“Who Is My Neighbour?”
Lesson 14 – Matthew 18; Luke 10
Imagine that we’ve invited a parent of a young child (three to five years old) to bring their child to our Gospel Doctrine class, introduce him or her to us, and then briefly describe some of the child’s most admirable qualities. After the parent was finished, you would most likely note that the parent had described many of the childlike qualities that Jesus would want us, as adults, to have. This lesson discusses the importance of developing desirable childlike qualities and treating all people with humility and kindness.
Matthew 18:1; Mark 9:33-34 As this scripture points out, the disciples were concerned about who would be the greatest in the Lord’s kingdom. That’s an error that one of us might make unless we learn to set aside such concerns.
Matt. 18:2-4; Mark 9:35 Jesus gave his counsel to those who desire to achieve true greatness in his kingdom, but due to our carnal natures, it is sometimes difficult to follow this counsel. Compare the Savior’s counsel with what the world teaches about how to achieve greatness.
Mosiah 3:19 To become as little children means that although children are not perfect, they have many qualities that we must develop to inherit the kingdom of heaven. These qualities include humility, meekness, and a willingness to believe. Think about what you have learned from children that helps you become more Christlike. Then consider ways in which you can become more childlike and more submissive to the will of our Father in Heaven.
Matt. 18:6 To “offend one of these little ones” means to cause to stumble. Some of the ways people cause children to stumble include being a poor example to them, criticizing them unkindly, failing to teach them, and abusing them.
Matt. 18:6 teaches us how seriously the Lord regards offenses against “little ones”.
In condemnation of offending little ones, Elder M. Russell Ballard stated: “We hear disturbing reports of parents or guardians who are so far removed from the Spirit of Christ that they abuse children. Whether this abuse is physical, verbal, or the less evident but equally severe emotional abuse, it is an abomination and a serious offense to God” (Ensign, May 1991, 80).
Matt. 18:14 Being childlike ourselves can help us care for children. Consider carefully what you can do to carry out God’s will that “[not] one of these little ones should perish”.
Mark 10:13 Jesus’ disciples responded with rebukes when the little children were brought to him, drawing a response from the Messiah…
Mark 10:14-15 In seeing his disciples’ attitude and behavior, Jesus was “much displeased” and told them to let the children come to him unimpeded.
Mark 10:16 Jesus blessed the children and demonstrated his great love for them. Here, we see how compassionate he is toward the innocent and helpless. For us, this is an obvious example that we should follow at all times.
Matt. 18:15 provides the Lord’s insightful teaching about what we should do if we have been offended by another. This is the best way to resolve disputes—privately and quietly, without rancor, so that the offender and offended can be reconciled without pressure from others.
Matt. 18:22 Jesus responded when Peter asked how often he should forgive, using a very high number to teach that we should always forgive others. Is it sometimes difficult to forgive? Certainly! But then, consider carefully how you have been blessed as you have forgiven others or been forgiven by them.
Matt. 18:23-35 To further emphasize the importance of forgiving others, Jesus gave this parable of the unmerciful servant. In verse 35, the king represents Heavenly Father, and the servants represent us.
Matt. 18:24-27 We are like the king’s servant in our debt to the Lord because we too are unable to pay the debt on our own. To be forgiven of our “debt”, we must plead for mercy and comply with the Lord’s conditions to achieve complete forgiveness.
Matt. 18:33 We learn from the king’s example in forgiving others that it is always incumbent upon us to forgive just as we have been forgiven by our merciful Master.
Matt. 18:34-35 The danger of not forgiving others is that we may be treated by our own standards at the judgment day if we are not merciful and forgiving.
Other important verses in Matt. 18 include…
Matt. 18:8-9 and Mark 9:43-48 (see also Matt. 5:29-30). Consider the meaning of these verses. (See Matt. 18:9, footnote 9a) The Joseph Smith Translation identifies these offending elements as people who lead us astray. It is better to end our association with people than to allow them to lead us into sin. (See also Joseph Smith Translation, Mark 9:40-48.)
Matt. 18:11-JST records Jesus as saying that little children do not need repentance (footnote 11c) and Moroni 8:11-12 teaches why this is so.
Moroni 8:12; D&C 29:46-47 Little children are “alive in Christ”.
Matt. 18:4; Mosiah 3:19; Moroni 8:10 To become “alive in Christ”, we must humble ourselves, yield to the Holy Spirit, become repentant, submissive, humble, meek, patient, and full of love, and completely submissive to the will of our Father.
Matt. 18:11-14 We are counseled to apply the parable of the lost sheep in our lives and consider how we, or someone we know, has been blessed by someone else who followed the principle of this parable.
Luke 10:25-28 Note how Jesus responded to the lawyer who asked what he should do to inherit eternal life. The commandments to love God and our neighbors encompass all of the gospel, so it is essential that we obey these two commandments more fully to merit salvation.
Luke 10:29-37 Jesus responded with the parable of the Good Samaritan when the lawyer asked, “Who is my neighbor?” This parable teaches us who our neighbors are.
President Howard W. Hunter said: “We need to remember that though we make our friends, God has made our neighbors—everywhere. Love should have no boundary; we should have no narrow loyalties” (Ensign, Nov. 1986, 35).
Luke 10:31-32 The priest and Levite passed on the other side when they saw the man who had been robbed and wounded. People need help today, so what excuses might we give when we do not help others in need? (See Mosiah 4:16-19 for one example.)
Luke 10:33-35 We are familiar with how the good Samaritan helped the man who had been robbed and wounded. He demonstrated many characteristics of a good neighbor. Take a moment to consider how you have been blessed by “good Samaritans” in your life.
Mosiah 4:26 teaches us how we can be “good Samaritans” by giving to the needy, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and ministering to them temporally and spiritually.
Matt. 19:1-12 (see also Mark 10:1-12) describes a situation in which the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus by asking him about the lawfulness of divorce. Divorce was a much-discussed issue among Jewish scholars and leaders, and the Pharisees hoped that Jesus’ answer to their question would allow them to stir up anger among the Jews.
Matt. 19:4-6 Jesus’ responded to the Pharisees that divorce was not ordained of God.
Matt. 19:7-8 Moses allowed divorce among the Israelites because of their hardness of hearts.
In ancient Israel, a man could put away, or divorce, his wife for insignificant reasons. Jesus taught that in a perfect world, such as the celestial kingdom, divorce does not exist. Because the earth is not yet perfect, divorce is allowed but should not happen except for the most serious reasons.
Matt. 19:9 indicates that a man who put away his wife for a frivolous reason was still married to her in the eyes of God, and he thus committed adultery if he married another woman. (See James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. , 473-75, 484; see also Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, 4 vols. [1979-81], 2:138-39.)
Humility, forgiveness, and charity play important roles in a successful marriage. Striving to be Christlike helps us in marriage and other relationships.
It is vitally important that we follow the Savior’s example by humbling ourselves, forgiving others, and showing charity for one another.
These lessons are posted on the Internet at http://www.neumanninstitute.org