Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 23:8-13

8 And he communed with them, saying, If it be your mind that I should bury my dead out of my sight; hear me, and entreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar,

9 That he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he hath, which is in the end of his field; for as much money as it is worth he shall give it me for a possession of a buryingplace amongst you.

10 And Ephron dwelt among the children of Heth: and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the audience of the children of Heth, even of all that went in at the gate of his city, saying,

11 Nay, my lord, hear me: the field give I thee, and the cave that is therein, I give it thee; in the presence of the sons of my people give I it thee: bury thy dead.

12 And Abraham bowed down himself before the people of the land.

13 And he spake unto Ephron in the audience of the people of the land, saying, But if thou wilt give it, I pray thee, hear me: I will give thee money for the field; take it of me, and I will bury my dead there.

The extreme good manners continue in this part of the story. The people of Heth have asked Abraham to name whatever plot of land he wants as a burying place for Sarah. He approached them meekly and at their mercy, but now they have encouraged him to speak his desire directly. So emboldened, Abraham names a cave that belongs to Ephron, and asks him to name what that place is worth and he will pay it. Continuing with the politeness, Ephron says Abraham may certainly have the cave, and he will even give it to him freely, no pay is necessary. Abraham, of course, refuses, and insists on paying whatever the fair price for the plot of land is. And Abraham is making the right choice here because of three reasons.

The first is that it will provide Abraham security. With an official payment his ownership of the land becomes sure. No one will be able to doubt that Abraham legally owns the cave, as there will be a clear transaction to prove his rightful purchase of it.

The second is that this is doing right by Ephron. This whole conversation has been public, polite, and formal, and Ephron could possibly feel compelled to offer up his land for free, even if he didn’t really want to. But Abraham won’t let Ephron be taken advantage of that way. He will give the man what he is due.

The third reason is that this is doing right by Sarah. She is Abraham’s beloved wife, and he should be willing to sacrifice his personal possessions for her. He wouldn’t insult her memory by giving her a resting place that he obtained cheaply. This is him showing that she is worth it.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 18:1-8

1 And the Lord appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;

2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,

3 And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:

4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree:

5 And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said.

6 And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth.

7 And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it.

8 And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.

I decided to include all eight above verses because I wanted to stress how Abraham went above and beyond when caring for the Lord and His companions. He ran to meet the Lord and His companions where they were, he bowed before them, he offered food, he had their feet washed, he went beyond the promised “morsel of bread” to fresh cakes, veal, milk, and butter, and he gave them this sudden feast under the pleasant shade of a tree, standing attentively by while they ate.

Is there any question how Abraham views his relation to the Lord? Is there any doubt of the immense respect that he has to Him? Abraham reveres the Lord. He knows that he is God’s servant, and he insists upon serving Him to the utmost of his capabilities. And as I read this passage I am swept with a feeling of “I wish I were a servant like that.”

Discussing Spiritual Differences- Daniel 1:8-10

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.
And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king.

COMMENTARY

Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs
Yesterday I spoke of how Daniel’s moral beliefs were at odds with the prince of the eunuchs’ fears. The two men were at an impasse, but notice from this verse that the relationship between them was not hostile. Daniel had already established a positive relationship with those whom he wished to have respect his culture. Read again the prince’s rejection and you will see that it is not motivated by malice, only by a fear of self-destruction.
In fact all of the exchanges in this story seem to be laced with a certain tenderness, both from Daniel and from his caretakers. All that follows in the tale is only able to occur because it is founded on the love between Daniel and these men.
Surely this is a lesson to all of us when discussing differences in our beliefs. These matters will go far more smoothly if we are able to first establish a mutual respect between us. And if we want respect for our different beliefs, first we need to establish a respect for one another’s person. Love for one another is the foundation of equality.

Respect in Our Differences- Personal Example

I disagree with you, but that’s okay. Is this something that we can respectfully look one another in the eye and say? So often in this world to disagree with another is to hate them. To hold a different opinion is a an irredeemable crime, it makes one a mortal enemy.

Absolutely I feel that we should evangelize for what we believe in, and should try to share what truths we have gained with those that are receptive to them. But some people will not wish to share in them, and the test is whether we can accept that graciously.

Without a doubt, each of us know people who we feel are unequivocally in the wrong. Or at the very least, are more wrong than us! Can we maintain that they are wrong, but also still a worthy person?

I have a friend who is an atheist. We spoke about religion a few times, and I am pleased to say it was always respectful from both sides. Each of us was genuinely curious to just understand one another better without judgment. In the end, my friend still thinks that I am naïve, and I think that he is cynical. We therefore see fundamental flaws in one another. I think that he is wrong, he thinks that I am wrong… And yet we still think that one another is a good friend.

Would it be nice if my friend became a believer? Of course. I honestly feel it would be a source of great joy to him. But for now it is not necessary for him to agree with me, only that he and I do the disagreeing respectfully.

Respect in Our Differences- Ephesians 4:5, Proverbs 21:2

One Lord, one faith, one baptism

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts

COMMENTARY

One Lord, one faith, one baptism
Our different religions agree on many things. Universally we find teachings of being kind to one another, of caring for our souls, of seeking out principles of truth. Eventually, though, there is always a difference. If there wasn’t, we would all be the same religion.
In my case I am a Christian, and what distinctly sets my faith apart is that I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and the only means by which we may return to God’s presence.
But of course, even umbrella faiths like Christianity are even further subdivided. So more specifically, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and one element that sets my faith further apart is that I believe my spirit was premortally created by God, with the intention that I postmortally become a divinity like Him.
And so when I read in Ephesians that there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, this is what I believe it to be referring to.

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts
But of course, I know that a Catholic would disagree with me. As well as a Protestant and Methodist and Jew and Muslim and Hindu and Atheist. As convinced as I feel of what the “one truth” is, I accept that others are so convinced of their “one truth,” too.
I will even concede that I am fallible. I will admit that my beliefs were originally taken on authority, handed down to me by family and culture, and therefore subject to strong bias. A few of those beliefs I am still taking on authority, because I have not yet developed a personal conviction of them.
So yes, there are shortcomings in my belief, but fallibility and bias are inherent in everyone else’s belief as well. Yet each of us do still believe that we believe rightly. I do so, because of the spiritual awakenings I have had as a result of following this path. I have had moments of God confirming many of these truths to me. Certain commandments and teachings I feel very strongly connected to. I am certain that I am God’s son and that He loves me. I am certain I have a Savior who knows my personal pain, and lifts me to a better state. I am certain that the Bible and the Book of Mormon contain the word of God.
If you don’t believe what I believe, I certainly understand why not, and I do not blame you for it. I surely disagree with some of your beliefs, too, but do so without any hostility. I maintain deepest respect for all sincerely-held beliefs.

Respect in Our Differences- Question

When one encounters a life-changing good, one wants to share it with others. My desire to write this very blog was a result of a spiritual awakening that began for me a couple of years ago. Advocating for one’s beliefs, though, eventually one will come face-to-face with differing opinions.

Some of those opinions one can reject outright. They are self-defeating ideologies, ones that are based upon logical fallacies. But some of them are very sincere, and held by individuals who have had spiritual awakenings just as profound as your own. In a moment such as this, you must decide whether you are going to respect the similarities, or be repulsed by the differences. In my experience, respect is the far more gratifying path.

This world seems to struggle with that notion, though. Saying that I respect someone that I disagree with, is construed as meaning that I wholeheartedly agree with them. We have lost the ability to have different opinions, and still think the world of one another.

With this study I would like to examine how we can maintain our convictions, while also showing respect to others. I will also consider why it is important to hold to our differences, and not just try to blend every belief system into one. Along the way we will examine how Jesus treated those of different faiths, such as the people of Samaria.

In the meantime, I would love to hear about your own experiences reconciling spiritual differences with friends and family. Have you ever found it a struggle to not get emotionally involved in the differences? What has helped you to be able to focus on the good in everyone? Has it ever challenged you to meet a member of a different faith who adhered to your own commandments better than you do?