Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 6:11-13

11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.

12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.

13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

In these verses we get a little insight as to what was wrong with humanity at this point: they were filled with violence. Flesh had corrupted itself to the point of destroying itself! What a strange and horrifying phenomenon this is in humanity: that we reach the point of self destruction.

We do this on an individual basis, when we intentionally do the very things that we know will cause us harm, sometimes to the most extreme degree of taking our own life! We also destroy ourselves on a global basis, with the genocide of entire societies and the threat of mutually assured destruction.

These behaviors are the final and great insanity! What other form of life is there that intentionally destroys itself? In fact, as I’ve awoken to the state of my own soul, I’ve spent far less time praying to be saved from others, and far more praying to be saved from myself!

Leading to Water- Question

Doing this blog has been very helpful for me. I began it because I needed to have a more regular practice for studying the gospel, a place to preserve the things that I have learned, and the social motivation to be consistent.

I also hoped that this blog would be a positive resource for you, the reader. Ideally it would be a way to raise questions of your own and lead you to some important self-realizations. And I intend to keep this blog public in the hope that it can have some impact for good.

But at the same time, the greatest value in research comes when we conduct it ourselves, not when we merely read of it from others. And while I am grateful for many mentors who taught me many true things, the fullest conversion has always come when I relearn those same lessons on my own. It is good for us to share and to teach, but one of the most important lessons to convey is the need to find out for oneself.

With this study I would like to consider how we do this. Where is the line between supporting a friend in their first steps versus becoming their crutch? When is it better to not answer a question so that one can find things out themselves? How do we start relying on our own spiritual study instead of taking other’s beliefs as our own?

As always, I would be very curious to hear about your own experiences with this, too. Can you pick out the moment where you began to stand on your own, personal testimony? What was it that convinced you depending on someone else’s foundation wouldn’t cut it anymore? What was the difference between believing what another told you versus having learned it for yourself?

Dealing With Failure- Galatians 6:1

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

COMMENTARY

If a man be overtaken in a fault, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness
I spoke yesterday of how self-correction can be an act of love and protection, where I endeavor to preserve my delicate and spiritual nature from the more callous and worldly part of me. However I have also learned that rushing to the defense of the spiritual does not mean that I must become harsh with the flesh. When one shouts at oneself, one tends to shout at all of oneself, both the offender and the offended.
Yes, the flesh does need to be subdued and bridled. And yes, when I stand between it and the spirit, I must be firm and direct. But as this verse suggests, I can also have a spirit of meekness and compassion during that stance.
This might seem like a contradiction of terms, but it makes sense when I remember the times I have corrected my own children from a healthy, grounded state. A good parent will firmly enforce rules and boundaries to a child, but in the same moment will hold them, express love, and patiently explain the reasons for the rule.
Because in the end, my worldly, misbehaving self often feels like a small child himself. A young, naïve boy who is trying to get what he wants by misguided means. He is a manipulative boy, even a bully of a boy, but rather than be hated for it, he just needs someone to instruct and correct him. Firmly and directly, but also compassionately.

Dealing With Failure- Psalm 82:3-4, Matthew 18:10

Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.

Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

COMMENTARY

Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked
Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones
These verses have an obvious literal interpretation: to protect and defend the helpless and the young. But also, as I considered the topic of this study, I thought of a figurative interpretation for them also.
The fact is, when I do something that I know is wrong, something that causes harm to my heart, I have a sense like that of a child crying inside. There is a youthful and needy soul within me, delicate and sensitive, and it has to be protected.
Indeed, every wrong action is an act of self-harm in some way, for we are fundamentally composed of a divine spirit, that cannot help but be wounded at the presence of vice. Self-correction, therefore, ought to be considered an act of self-protecting love.

Dealing With Failure- Proverbs 3:5, 1 Corinthians 1:24, 1 Corinthians 2:5

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

COMMENTARY

Lean not unto thine own understanding
The weakness of God is stronger than men
Your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God
I have previously spoken of how I have sometimes been too hard on myself when I slip, and as I’ve considered that negative self-talk I have realized that it is a misguided attempt to control my behavior through fear. I am trying to force myself to be better via the tools of shame and embarrassment.
And this is me relying on my own strength, trying to control things according to my own power. In this effort I am utilizing the same forms of coercion that mankind has relied on through all of history to get what they want. Fear and shame are techniques that we continue to fall back on even though they are hugely ineffective. They are techniques that we use as a substitute for genuine power and confidence.
But as these verses suggest, there is a better way. There is another source of strength that each of us has access to, one that is greater than any mortal strength. So now the question is, how do we stop relying on our own power to improve ourselves, and utilize God’s instead?

Dealing With Failure- Matthew 26:41

Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

COMMENTARY

The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
If you’re like me, then this verse alone can describe the majority of your self-disappointments. It isn’t a question of not knowing what is right , or not wanting to do what is right, or not striving to do what is right. It’s simply that while part of me yearns for what is right, another part would rather be lazy, or sensually satisfied, or just revert back to what it already knows.
And I feel it is important to understand and acknowledge both sides of this. When I went to addiction recovery, I already hated my sinful cravings and I didn’t need to be taught to just hate them more. What I did need was to appreciate that I was already fundamentally good in my core desires, and now needed to learn to master the flesh.
And this was why my recovery program stressed the importance of making–and keeping–daily commitments. Even little things that were entirely unrelated to the addiction, such as brushing my teeth for a full two minutes or being to work on time. Because little by little I had to teach myself how to follow through and just do the things I already wanted to do. At last my flesh wasn’t overrunning my naturally good soul.

Dealing With Failure- Luke 15:20, Isaiah 54:8

And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer.

COMMENTARY

He arose, and came to his father. And his father saw him, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him
There is a great myth in our society that we cannot love a person unless we also sweep all their misdeeds under the rug. It is believed that if we call a behavior wrong, then by extension we must hate all people that participate in that behavior.
The parable of the prodigal son shows a father that loves his son perfectly, is eager to forgive, and accepts his son’s return without question. But at the same time, he never condones the boy’s wayward behavior. He never claims that sin is not sin. He is able to both disapprove of the boy’s mistakes and also retain his love for him.

In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee
I believe a major reason for the myth that we cannot be opposed to sin but still love the sinner is because anger is so often coupled with hate. As small children anger quickly becomes associated with things like neglect, cruel criticisms, and even physical abuse.
But anger, in and of itself, is not hate. And while hate is never a correct response to failure, sometimes anger is. When we let ourselves down it is possible to be upset with our behavior and call ourselves out for it, while also still immersing ourselves in self-love and care.

Dealing With Failure- Proverbs 3:12, Doctrine and Covenants 121:43

For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;

COMMENTARY

For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth
Reproving betimes with sharpness
God is love. God is willing to forgive. God does not stop being a caring Father because of our mistakes, He still accepts the sinner, and seeks for the sheep that is lost.
But that does not mean that He does not correct us. Nor does it mean that He will just sweep our sins under the rug. When we do something wrong, it matters, and He expresses this in no uncertain terms.
This is a quality I’ve come to appreciate a great deal from Him. He does not beat around the bush, He does not speak in cryptic riddles. When I have done something that is offensive, He makes it known in clear and direct terms. When He corrects us it is extremely sharp. Not in the sense of harming, but in the sense of being very precise and direct.
I have realized that many times when I have been offended, and I try to express it, I tend to be very blunt. Not in the sense of being straightforward, but in the sense of being broad and imprecise. I try to hint at my feelings without actually being plain and vulnerable.
So, too, when I try to correct myself. I speak to myself in exaggerated, end-of-the-world terms, splashing criticism over a broad area, most of it landing far from the actual core of the problem. But I am learning from His example how to pause, collect myself, and then speak sharply (directly and precisely) to the heart of the matter.

Dealing With Failure- Matthew 18:21-22

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

COMMENTARY

Peter said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
Jesus saith unto him, not until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

Each of us must learn in life how to deal with those that disappoint and offend us. And while often we speak of that in terms of other people sinning against us, the truth is that the person who most often upsets us is our own self.
And in return, we usually are also our own worst critics, giving ourselves self-talk that is far crueler than what we would say to any other person. When we do something that lets us down, we mentally shake ourselves and ask when we’re finally going to get it right!
But I feel that Jesus’s counsel in this verse condemns withholding forgiveness from ourselves, as much as from another. And eventually, I started treating myself better after I felt God say to me: “Hey, don’t be so hard on Abe. I love that guy!”
We can forgive ourselves, be kind to ourselves, and still ask ourselves to grow and improve. In fact, our behavior is most likely to improve, when we set our expectations for ourselves with a heavy dose of self-love.