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5 Quotes Plus Discussion-Promoting Questions
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In complete honesty, Elder Renlund’s talk didn’t seem remarkable to me the first time around. But now I adore this talk. I’ve also become conscious of how much it has moved me. For example, I softened towards people I was irritated with; I did and said kind things I didn’t intend to. I suppose we could say this piece of inspiration did its in-depth work on me, and the outcome surprised me. It is now my playbook for 2021. For sure, Elder Renlund demonstrated his divine calling as an apostle and the power of his mantle.
His complete talk can be found here. Unless you opt to spend a lot of time on a particular quote, try to pick around 2 questions per quote. Choose the questions which resonate the most with you and which you feel will make a meaningful discussion for your group of personalities. These highlights and questions fit right in with Lesson Template 1 or Template 2. You can also check out several other General Conference Talks with 5 Highlights.
All quotes by Dale G. Renlund and in blue.
Elder Renlund based his talk on a little-known verse from the Old Testament.
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?Micah 6:8 ~ Old Testament
Most likely, I would have read right past this verse and not realized its impact. This remarkable short verse manages to spell out our entire purpose on earth in a few words. Without a doubt, I’m grateful we have an apostle who expounds on it for us!
Quote #1 (do justly)
To be Christlike, a person does justly, behaving honorably with both God and other people. A just person is civil in words and action and recognizes that differences in outlook or belief do not preclude genuine kindness and friendship. Individuals who do justly “will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably” one with another.
To do justly…is to intentionally withdraw our hand from iniquity, walk in His statutes, and remain authentically faithful…
Oh man, Elder Renlund pierced my soul when he said “a just person” does not withdraw kindness or friendship because of differences. I had to make some immediate adjustments in my attitude towards a couple of situations in my life. His quote also reminds me of something my girlfriend once said, “the least of these thy brethren is whomever you personally think the least of. And how you treat them is the same as if you had done it to Christ.” Ouch!
justly: fairly, equitably, honestly, impartially, properly, lawfully
Possible discussion questions: Do you have a disagreement or difficulty with someone and you have withdrawn your kindness or scaled back on the friendship? How might the attribute of “do justly” help us have a better outcome with that person? How would you describe “justly” in your own words? (use word definition list above if needed). How does doing justly help us be more peaceful? What does the phrase authentically faithful mean to you?
Quote #2 (love mercy)
To be Christlike, a person loves mercy. People who love mercy are not judgmental; they manifest compassion for others, especially for those who are less fortunate; they are gracious, kind, and honorable. These individuals treat everyone with love and understanding, regardless of characteristics such as race, gender, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and tribal, clan, or national differences. These are superseded by Christlike love.
“Love mercy” goes beyond being kind…sometimes, we are kind because we know it is the right thing to do. But love mercy means we are hooked on it. That we enjoy it and seek ways to bestow it. For me, it’s a higher benchmark.
Here are some definitions of the word mercy: kindness, compassion, forgiveness, generosity, and good will
Possible discussion questions: We know we are to be merciful; what does “love mercy” mean to you? How can we get more compassion and understanding? (Do things to bring in the spirit and soften our hearts, pray for it, give service to someone). Has anyone ever shown you mercy? What happened and how did you feel? Have you ever forgiven someone that maybe didn’t deserve it or didn’t ask for it? What was the result? What kind of mood comes with “loving mercy”? (upbeat, light-hearted, happy)
Quote #3 (Dr. Cohen)
While this story is simple, it pricked my heart and I realized I had a few coarse spots that needed attention. See what happens to you as you read this story from Elder Renlund.
Always dealing honorably with others is part of loving mercy. Consider a conversation I overheard decades ago in the emergency department of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, in the United States. A patient, Mr. Jackson, was a courteous, pleasant man who was well known to the hospital staff. He had previously been hospitalized multiple times for the treatment of alcohol-related diseases. On this occasion, Mr. Jackson returned to the hospital for symptoms that would be diagnosed as inflammation of the pancreas caused by alcohol consumption.
Toward the end of his shift, Dr. Cohen, a hardworking and admired physician, evaluated Mr. Jackson and determined that hospitalization was warranted. Dr. Cohen assigned Dr. Jones, the physician next up in rotation, to admit Mr. Jackson and oversee his treatment.
Dr. Jones had attended a prestigious medical school and was just beginning her postgraduate studies. This grueling training was often associated with sleep deprivation, which likely contributed to Dr. Jones’s negative response. Confronted with her fifth admission of the night, she complained loudly to Dr. Cohen. She felt it was unfair that she would have to spend many hours caring for Mr. Jackson, because his predicament was, after all, self-inflicted.
Dr. Cohen’s emphatic response was spoken in almost a whisper. He said, “Dr. Jones, you became a physician to care for people and work to heal them. You didn’t become a physician to judge them. If you don’t understand the difference, you have no right to train at this institution.” Following this correction, Dr. Jones diligently cared for Mr. Jackson during the hospitalization.
Mr. Jackson has since died. Both Dr. Jones and Dr. Cohen have had stellar careers. But at a critical moment in her training, Dr. Jones needed to be reminded to do justly, to love mercy, and to care for Mr. Jackson without being judgmental.
Over the years, I have benefited from that reminder. Loving mercy means that we do not just love the mercy God extends to us; we delight that God extends the same mercy to others. And we follow His example. “All are alike unto God,” and we all need spiritual treatment to be helped and healed. The Lord has said, “Ye shall not esteem one flesh above another, or one man shall not think himself above another.”
Possible discussion: What stands out for you from this story and why?
Quote #4 (walk humbly)
To be Christlike, a person chooses God, walks humbly with Him, seeks to please Him, and keeps covenants with Him. Individuals who walk humbly with God remember what Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have done for them.
Am I doing enough? What else should I be doing? The action we take in response to these questions is central to our happiness in this life and in the eternities. The Savior does not want us to take salvation for granted. Even after we have made sacred covenants, there is a possibility that we may “fall from grace and depart from the living God.” So we should “take heed and pray always” to avoid falling “into temptation.”
“What else should I be doing”? or “what lack I yet”? One of the surest, fastest ways to experience what the Spirit and personal revelation feels like is to ask for guidance about self-improvement sincerely. Elder Renlund says such questions are central to our happiness, and I whole-heartedly agree. What I especially love is, the answers come gently and one at a time instead of the whole laundry list of the 10,000+ ways I fall short; instead it’s line upon line, precept upon precept. Counseling with God over small and simple things is a joyful, intimate connection. It boosts our confidence and our peace, as well.
Possible discussion questions: When is the last time you asked Heavenly Father a question like the ones Elder Renlund suggests? What kinds of things do we need to “take heed of” and pray about? How does prayer help with our temptations? What are some ways you can walk humbly with God?
Quote #5 (we can)
This is an excellent quote to wrap up with if there is time. And remember to add your own witness at the end of the lesson; it is valuable.
We can assess our own progress. We can know “that the course of life [that we are] pursuing is according to God’s will” when we do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. We assimilate the attributes of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ into our character, and we love one another.
Remember, you were called to lead this lesson for a reason. Have faith in what you feel drawn to teach. Thank you for taking the time to prepare yourself! Your ward is blessed when you encourage others to reach for higher levels of faith.