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Bless them that hate you

Do we have people like Alma the younger in our lives? 

People who delight in causing suffering or who persecute us for our faith? 

Melanie Sarao (Charlotte, North Carolina)

Ricks College, BYU-Hawaii

Central Florida Mission (Spanish speaking)

 Homeschools

I love reading the experience of Alma the younger. 

He was a rebellious young man who went against everything his father tried to teach him. Not only did he reject the teachings of the prophet but he persecuted those who did believe. You might say that Alma the younger was an enemy of Christ’s followers.

Do we have people like Alma the younger in our lives who delight in causing suffering or who persecute us for our faith? Sometimes we do. Often it is the loud voices calling from the great and spacious building. For me, it can be heart- wrenching when a friend, loved one or an esteemed associate turn on us because of our faith. It can be easy to have feelings of resentment grow into anger. The Lord doesn’t intend for us to strike back, however. On several occasions, the Lord taught us to love our enemies.

That does not mean that we shouldn’t stand up for ourselves, our families or our beliefs but it does mean that loving someone in their present state can lead them to feel the gentle invitation of the Lord to move forward and accept his eternal truths later. Acts of kindness are often remembered by the recipient years down the road.

How would Alma the younger have responded if his father had treated him with judgment and contempt instead of prayerful, loving patience? Most likely he would have grown even more angry and more resentful. Sadly, not all situations end up with a conversion. Often the command to love our enemies is more for the benefit of the offended than the offender.

President Spencer W. Kimball said “We pray for the frustrated, the disturbed, the sick, those in need, the sinful. We pray for that person we felt was an enemy, for we remember the beautiful and powerful counsel of our Lord: “But I say unto you which hear, love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.” (Luke 6:27–28.) Can anyone long have an enemy when he prays for persons around him about whom he may have hard feelings?”1

I have a relative who left the Church many years ago.

It still is a tender issue for me. This person didn’t just leave the Church however, they became an enemy to it. They became cruel and abrasive about my family’s membership in it. 

Sadly, we cannot share our children’s beautiful gospel events with this person because they choose to mock and ridicule our way of life. We all feel this loss most bitterly. As I pray for this relative, I find strength through the Savior Jesus Christ to be able to show more kindness, to be more understanding of their hurt, and to forgive more readily. The Savior teaches me that this person is also a beloved child of Heavenly Parents and that they will also be redeemed one day through the power and grace of the Lord, Jesus Christ. With that powerful source of love, I can feel more charity for that person. As we show love and kindness to those who try to injure, they will remember our actions when they need it most.

1. “Pray Always”, Spencer W. Kimball, October 1981 General Conference
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