Jesus Christ taught by example that a grateful heart is a heart close to God. Before raising Lazarus from the dead, he “lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me” (John 11:41). Before feeding more than 4,000 people with seven loaves and a few small fishes, he first “gave thanks” to God (seeMatt. 15:36). While awaiting his crucifixion, Jesus took the cup at the last supper and again “gave thanks” to his Father, even though the drink represented the shedding of his own blood (see Matt. 26:27–28).
The Savior lamented ingratitude. When only one of the 10 cleansed lepers returned to give thanks, Jesus asked, “But where are the nine?” (Luke 17:17). To us in the last days, he has said, “In nothing doth man offend God … save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments” (D&C 59:21).
Just as a thankful heart compelled the leper to return, gratitude turns our own hearts toward the Savior. We grow when we acknowledge our dependence on him. We develop Christlike characteristics that offset tendencies toward pride, selfishness, and being unforgiving. By following the admonition to “thank the Lord thy God in all things” (D&C 59:7), we become aware of the ways that Heavenly Father influences us.
A young mother knelt beside her three-year-old and listened to his heartfelt bedtime prayer. As he gave thanks for his big brother, for snow, for clouds, and for pizza, she tried to remember the last time she had thanked the Lord for such things. She realized that, although she always thanked our Heavenly Father for health, family, and the gospel, she had forgotten to remember the plain, the ordinary, the simple blessings of her own life. When she began expressing daily gratitude for all these blessings, she saw the world with new eyes. She found that grief and hardship became easier to bear and that she was spiritually nourished (see Lisa Ray Turner, Ensign, July 1992, pages 51–52).
Elder Robert D. Hales counsels us, “Through expression of prayerful gratitude and thanksgiving, we show our dependence upon a higher source of wisdom and knowledge—God the Father and his Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (Ensign, May 1992, page 64).
“He who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious” (D&C 78:19). With such a promise, one of our prayerful requests could appropriately be, “more gratitude give me.”
What better example do we have of temperance than our Savior, Jesus Christ?
When our hearts are stirred to anger by disputation and contention, the Savior taught that we should “repent, and become as a little child.”8We should be reconciled with our brother and come to the Savior with full purpose of heart.9
When others are unkind, Jesus taught that “my kindness shall not depart from thee.”10
When we are confronted with affliction, He said: “Be patient in afflictions, revile not against those that revile. Govern your house in meekness, and be steadfast.”11
When we are oppressed, we can be comforted in knowing “he was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth.”12“Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.”13
When Jesus Christ, the greatest of all, suffered for us to the extent that He bled from every pore, He did not express anger or revile in suffering. With unsurpassed self-restraint, or temperance, His thoughts were not of Himself but of you and of me. And then, in humility and full of love, He said, “Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, "Blessed at Birth" (1940s)
Excerpts from this talk:
The Virtue of Kindness
Joseph B. Wirthlin
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Kindness is the essence of a celestial life. Kindness is how a Christlike person treats others.
...Kindness is the essence of greatness and the fundamental characteristic of the noblest men and women I have known. Kindness is a passport that opens doors and fashions friends. It softens hearts and molds relationships that can last lifetimes. ...Kindness is the essence of a celestial life. Kindness is how a Christlike person treats others. Kindness should permeate all of our words and actions at work, at school, at church, and especially in our homes.
...Jesus, our Savior, was the epitome of kindness and compassion. He healed the sick. He spent much of His time ministering to the one or many. He spoke compassionately to the Samaritan woman who was looked down upon by many. He instructed His disciples to allow the little children to come unto Him. He was kind to all who had sinned, condemning only the sin, not the sinner.
...I often wonder why some feel they must be critical of others. It gets in their blood, I suppose, and it becomes so natural they often don’t even think about it. They seem to criticize everyone—the way Sister Jones leads the music, the way Brother Smith teaches a lesson or plants his garden.
...Even when we think we are doing no harm by our critical remarks, consequences often follow. I am reminded of a boy who handed a donation envelope to his bishop and told him it was for him. The bishop, using this as a teaching moment, explained to the boy that he should mark on the donation slip whether it was for tithing, fast offerings, or for something else. The boy insisted the money was for the bishop himself. When the bishop asked why, the boy replied, “Because my father says you’re one of the poorest bishops we’ve ever had.”
...When we are filled with kindness, we are not judgmental. The Savior taught, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.”4He also taught that “with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”5
“But,” you ask, “what if people are rude?”
“If they are obnoxious?”
“But what if they offend? Surely I must do something then?”
The answer is the same. Be kind. Love them.
Why? In the scriptures Jude taught, “And of some have compassion, making a difference.”6
Who can tell what far-reaching impact we can have if we are only kind?
...My brothers and sisters, the gospel of Jesus Christtranscends mortality. Our work here is but a shadow of greater and unimaginable things to come.
...As our Heavenly Father loves us, we also should love His children.
...May we be models of kindness. May we ever live up to the words of the Savior: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”7Of these truths I bear witness in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.