First the Kingdom of God”
True disciples do right things for right reasons.
True disciples follow the Savior's example of prayer.
True disciples treat others kindly and fairly.
True disciples serve God and do his will.
A study of this lesson will encourage us to become more dedicated disciples
of Jesus Christ.
Scripture references for study:
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 9 Handout (PDF
MATTHEW 6:1-4. Do not do your alms before men.
WHY DO YOU SUPPOSE THAT EVEN WHEN WE DO THE RIGHT THING, THE LORD REQUIRES
THAT WE DO IT FOR THE RIGHT REASONS?
The question: What is our motive? Love of praise or love of righteousness
and those whom we serve.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell asks: "Do we have both right
conduct and right reasons for that conduct? Are we so secure in our relationship
with the Lord that our goodness and attention to duty would continue even
if it were not seen of men? Would we fill our roles in the Church even
if there were no mortal taking of the roll?" (Notwithstanding
My Weakness, p117)
Robert L. Millet wrote: "Our prayers are
to God, not to men. Our yearnings for divine assistance are addressed to
the Man of Holiness, not to unholy and finite men and women. Too often,
as the Savior taught, those who trust 'in themselves that they [are] righteous'
do not enjoy the peace and ratifying seal of the Lord's acceptance upon
either their prayers or their performances (see Luke 18:9-14). The esteem
and approbation of the present world cannot bestow those silent but certain
honors that will come in the Savior's due time to the pure in heart."
(Eye Single To The Glory of God, p58)
HOW DO WE BALANCE THIS WITH THE LORD'S ADMONITION TO "LET YOUR LIGHT SO
SHINE BEFORE MEN, THAT THEY MAY SEE YOUR GOOD WORKS"? (see
Dietrich Bonhoeffer: "The first question
to ask is: From whom are we to hide the visibility of our discipleship?
Certainly not from other men, for we are told to let them see our light.
No. We are to hide it from ourselves. Our task is simply to keep on following,
looking only to our Leader who goes on before, taking no notice of ourselves
or of what we are doing. We must be unaware of our own righteousness, and
see it only insofar as we look unto Jesus; then it will seem not extraordinary,
but quite ordinary and natural." (quoted in Eye Single To The
Glory of God, p59)
WHAT ARE ALMS?
Bible Dictionary: Donations for the poor.
HOW SHOULD WE AND IN WHAT WAYS CAN WE HELP THE POOR AND THE NEEDY?
Bruce R. McConkie: "Almsgiving is the contribution
of free gifts to relieve the poor; the spirit that attends such a course
is of God and finds its highest manifestation in the organized charitable
enterprises of his earthly kingdom. Paul, for instance, in his day, carried
alms to the poor saints in Jerusalem (Acts 24:17), he having first assembled
the contributions from the saints in Macedonia and Achaia. (Acts 11:29;
Rom. 15:25-28.) In modern times the major portion of the almsgiving of
the saints is administered through the great church Welfare Plan."
(Mormon Doctrine, p30)
MATTHEW 6:5-8. Pray in secret, not before men.
These verses continue with the theme of motive: Why does one give alms
or say prayers and how do they do it?
Why do we say prayers? How sincere are we?
I am reminded of the story of a boy and his nightly prayers. Each night
he kneeled by his bed and said his prayers. Eventually he concluded that
he was too tired to kneel at night, so he decided to lie in bed to pray.
As time wore on he got tired of trying to figure out what to say, so he
wrote it on a card in order to read it. The boy got tired of holding the
card, so he taped it on the ceiling. Finally, he pointed at the card and
said "It's up there Lord."
WHAT IS THE LORD TEACHING US IN THESE VERSE?
Are you praying to be seen of men or out of habit or obligation?
Or are you praying because you love Heavenly Father, wish to express appreciation,
and share your heart with Him?
HOW LONG DO YOU PRAY EACH DAY? IN WHAT
MANNER DO YOU PRAY?
The Lord provided us with a key to demonstrate the sincerity of our prayers,
both to the Father and to ourselves.
"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your
heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their
trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (Matthew
MATTHEW 6:16-18. Fast as a sacrifice to the Lord,
not to be seen of men.
Fasting is a means of taking our prayers to a higher level.
These verses continue the theme of motive: Do we do these things for righteousness
sake or are we hypocrites?
Serving God Or Mammon
MATTHEW 6:19-21. Lay up treasures in heaven.
WHAT EVENTUALLY HAPPENS TO OUR EARTHLY TREASURES?
One of our earthly treasures may be a car. Consider the resources we put
into a car. We either save up for or make payments for several years. We
then continue to spend resources on licensing, insurance, and repairs.
What eventually happens to the car? Over time, it usually ends up in a
junkyard. This treasure which we have poured thousands, possibly tens of
thousands of dollars, and hundreds of hours of work ends up in the junkyard.
"A wealthy man died. 'How much property did he
leave?' someone inquired. The wise response: 'He left all of it'."
(quoted in Pure In Heart, p80)
HOW DO WE LAY UP TREASURES IN HEAVEN?
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "While yet on earth
men may lay up treasures in heaven. These treasures, earned here and now
in mortality, are in effect deposited to our eternal bank account in heaven
where eventually they will be reinherited again in immortality. Treasures
in heaven are the character, perfections, and attributes which men acquire
by obedience to law. Thus, those who gain such attributes of godliness
as knowledge, faith, justice, judgment, mercy, and truth, will find these
same attributes restored to them again in immortality. (Alma 41:13-15.)
'Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will
rise with us in the resurrection.' (D. & C. 130:18.) The greatest treasure
it is possible to inherit in heaven consists in gaining the continuation
of the family unit in the highest heaven of the celestial world."
(Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:239)
The Lord is teaching us to set proper priorities. We should treasure that
which will last into the eternities, not that which has no eternal value.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "We can be conscientious
but still be confused about our priorities. How we spend our time is at
least as good a measure of us as how we spend our money. An inventory of
how we spend our disposable time will tell us where our treasure is."
(Notwithstanding My Weakness, p116-p117)
"The light of the body is the eye: if therefore
thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine
eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the
light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!"
If we have set the proper priorities and have our lives focused on the
teachings of the Master, we will be filled with light and knowledge. If
our priorities become corrupted, then we will lose the light of truth.
"No man can serve two masters: for either he will
hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and
despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." (Matthew
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU?
DOES THIS MEAN THAT WE SHOULD NOT SEEK THE THINGS OF THE WORLD?
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his
righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew
"Wherefore, seek not the things of this world
but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God, and to establish his
righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."
(JST Matthew 6:38)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "Sacrifice is the crowning
test of the gospel. Men are tried and tested in this mortal probation to
see if they will put first in their lives the things of the kingdom of
God. (Matt. 6:33.) To gain eternal life, they must be willing, if called
upon, to sacrifice all things for the gospel. 'If thou wilt be perfect,'
Jesus said to the rich young man, 'go and sell that thou hast, and give
to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow
me'." (Mormon Doctrine, p663)
"Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for
your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your
body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body
than raiment?" (Matthew 6:25)
According to Elder McConkie, in these verses, the Lord is speaking to the
Twelve and not the congregation as a whole.
- Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "From the beginning men
have been commanded to labor in seed time and harvest and to lay up store
against times of winter and famine.... This is a temporal world, and men
who dwell thereon are appointed to deal with temporal concerns. The gospel
law requires men to care for their own needs and those of their families."
(Mortal Messiah, 2:155-156)
- This admonition of the Master also seems to apply to those who are called
to serve on a full-time mission.
MATTHEW 7:1-2. Judge not.
MATTHEW 7:3-5. Cast the beam out of your own
Joseph Smith Translation: "Judge not unrighteously,
that ye be not judged; but judge righteous judgment."
HOW DOES THE JOSEPH SMITH TRANSLATION CHANGE THE MEANING OF THIS VERSE?
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "This is not a prohibition
against sitting in judgment either on one's fellowmen or upon principles
of right and wrong, for the saints are commanded to do these very things.
The sense and meaning of our Lord's utterance is, 'Condemn not, that ye
be not condemned.' It is, 'Judge wisely and righteously, so that ye may
be judged in like manner'." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary,
WHY IS IT SO DIFFICULT TO JUDGE OTHER PEOPLE CORRECTLY?
WHAT HARM CAN COME FROM JUDGING IMPROPERLY?
President Spencer W. Kimball: "It is most evident
that all of the many prejudiced ones fail to catch the spirit of the gospel
and the teachings of the Christ as they hiss and spurn and scoff and criticize."
(Faith Precedes the Miracle, p299)
President David O. McKay: "The context of that
scripture plainly indicates that the sin the Savior is condemning is the
disposition to look unfavorably on the character and actions of others,
which leads almost invariably to the pronouncing of rash, unjust, judgments
upon them. Very often these judgments are formed on insufficient evidence
and after superficial observations, and people who form them and express
them in the presence of children put poison into those children's minds.
Parents who speak at the table against the bishopric, against a teacher,
stake president, or any other officer of the Church are, unwittingly, perhaps,
but most assuredly, lessening in their children's minds the respect and
confidence in Church authorities." (Gospel Ideals, p415)
Mote = speck, chip, or splinter.
Beam = The Greek word refers to a wooden beam used in constructing houses.
WHAT DOES THIS VERSE MEAN TO YOU?
President Spencer W. Kimball: "The Redeemer's
principle of not judging is not a single-action program—it is a day-to-day
requirement of life. He tells us to clean up our own errors first—to remove
the beam-size faults. Then, and not till then, is one justified in turning
his attention to the eccentricities or weaknesses of another."
(The Miracle of Forgiveness, p268-269)
I have had the opportunity in my place of employment of dealing with employee/employer
relations. Employees often came to me with complaints about how they are
being treated unfairly and of being taken advantage. In the majority of
these situations, if the employee took an honest look at his own behavior
and work habits and then made a concerted effort to improve, I believe
these situations would resolve themselves.
We probably should print these verses on a card and put them in our wallet
as a reminder that we need to clean our own house first.
Seek To Know The Truth
MATTHEW 7:6-8. Cast not pearls before swine.
Ask and it shall be given.
JST: "Go ye into the world, saying unto all, Repent,
for the kingdom of heaven has come nigh unto you.
And the mysteries of the kingdom ye shall keep within yourselves; for it is not
meet to give that which is holy unto the dogs; neither cast ye your pearls unto
swine, lest they trample them under their feet. For the world cannot
receive that which ye, yourselves, are not able to bear; wherefore ye shall
not give your pearls unto them lest they turn again and rend you.
Say unto them, Ask of God; ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall
find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and unto him that knocketh,
it shall be opened."
WHAT PRINCIPLES ARE TAUGHT HERE?
Teach the basics - faith, repentance, baptism.
Do not teach the mysteries to unbelievers.
- WHAT ARE THE MYSTERIES?
- Elder McConkie: "Any gospel truth, however easy
and simple, that is not understood, or that is beyond the present spiritual
capacity of a given person to understand, is to him a mystery. Faith, repentance,
and baptism are mysteries to the unbelieving Gentiles. But the mysteries
of the kingdom, of which Jesus here speaks, are quite another thing. This
phrase has a special meaning; it refers to the deep and hidden things of
the gospel--to the calculus, as it were, which can only be comprehended
after the student has become proficient in arithmetic, algebra, and geometry;
it refers to the temple ordinances; to the gifts of the Spirit; to those
things which can be known only by the power of the Holy Ghost. The saints
are to keep the deep and more mysterious doctrines to themselves and not
offer to the world more than people are able to bear." (Mortal
- I learned this principle first hand while teaching during
my mission. As I gained experience as a missionary, I came to find that
we could not discuss the plan of salvation, and have the beauty of it understood,
until our investigators had begun the effort of praying, studying the Book
of Mormon, and attempting to live the Word of Wisdom.
HOW DOES ONE LEARN OF THE MYSTERIES?
Ask and seek.
"And now Alma began to expound these things unto
him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless
they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according
to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men,
according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.
And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser
portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the
greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of
God until he know them in full." (Alma 12:9-10)
MATTHEW 7:9-11. The Father will give to them
MATTHEW 7:12. The Golden Rule.
Notice the placement of this verse following the teaching on acquiring
knowledge of the Lord. The Lord says, "Therefore."
It appears that learning of the mysteries may be contingent upon how
we treat and serve our fellow men.
- HAVE YOU FOUND THIS PRINCIPLE TO BE TRUE IN YOUR OWN LIFE?
HOW DOES FOLLOWING THE GOLDEN RULE MAKE US BETTER DISCIPLES OF JESUS CHRIST?
Elder Marvin J. Ashton described a meeting in which a group of Church members
considered the question "How can you tell if someone is converted to Jesus
"For forty-five minutes
those in attendance made numerous suggestions in response to this question,
and the leader carefully wrote down each answer on a large chalkboard.
All of the comments were thoughtful and appropriate. But after a time,
this great teacher erased everything he had written. Then acknowledging
that all of the comments had been worthwhile and appreciated, he taught
a vital principle: 'The best and most clear indicator that we are progressing
spiritually and coming unto Christ is the way we treat other people.'
"The way we treat
the members of our families, our friends, those with whom we work each
day is as important as are some of the more noticeable gospel principles
we sometimes emphasize." (Ensign, May 1992, p20)
MATTHEW 7:13-14. Enter at the strait gate.
JST reads: "Repent, therefore, and enter ye in
at the strait gate."
WHAT IS THE GATE?
Baptism - see D&C 22.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "Enter in at the strait
gate of baptism; find yourself on the strait and narrow path leading to
the celestial kingdom. Enter in a the strait gate of celestial marriage;
find yourself on the strait and narrow path leading to eternal life in
the highest heaven of the celestial world. The broad gate is always open,
and all the influences of the world urge and entice men to enter and go
downward to darkness; the narrow gate is open only to those who desire
righteousness and who see the Lord and his goodness." (Mortal
HOW DO WE STAY ON THIS STRAIT AND NARROW PATH?
Recall these words from Lehi's dream: "Whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it,
they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts
of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction"
(1 Nephi 15:24).
Prophets, Good Works, & Salvation
MATTHEW 7:15-20. Beware of false prophets.
WHAT EVIDENCE IS THERE THAT THERE ARE FALSE PROPHETS AMONGST US?
HOW CAN WE DETECT FALSE PROPHETS?
Joseph Smith: "When a man goes about prophesying,
and commands men to obey his teachings, he must either be a true or false
prophet. False prophets always arise to oppose the true prophets and they
will prophesy so very near the truth that they will deceive almost the
very chosen ones." (TPJS, p365)
MATTHEW 7:21-23. They who are saved are they
who do the will of the Father.
There are no shortcuts. The path to salvation is requires doing the will
of the Father.
MATTHEW 7:24-27. Build a proper foundation.
WHAT IS A PROPER FOUNDATION?
The gospel of Jesus Christ.
"And now, my sons, remember, remember that it
is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye
must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty
winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his
mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag
you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon
which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if
men build they cannot fall." (Helaman 5:12)
"And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these
sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them
as one having authority, and not as the scribes." (Matthew 7:28-29)
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
In the sixth chapter of Matthew, the Lord is teaching us to set proper
priorities and to keep our focus with an "eye single to the glory of
God." Our goal should not be to impress men or attain riches, but to
seek for eternal treasures. In the process, we will be well rewarded, "...and
all these things shall be added unto you."
In the seventh chapter we receive instructions about obtaining true
knowledge and requirements for salvation. The Master concludes by saying that
if we heed these teachings, we will have built our eternal destiny upon a firm
and sure foundation.
The Sermon on the Mount provides more real instruction on how to live one's
life than all the books ever written. At home, I have several shelves
full of books on success, positive thinking, and suggestions for living
a better life. And yet, the Savior said it best in his great sermon as contained
in three chapters of Matthew.
Record your thoughts on the principles taught by the Savior in this great
sermon. In what areas can you improve?
Resources Used In This Lesson
An Eye Single To The Glory of God: Reflections on the Cost of Discipleship
by Robert L. Millet.
Doctrinal New Testament Commentary by Bruce R. McConkie.
Faith Precedes the Miracle by Spencer W. Kimball.
Gospel Ideals by David O. McKay.
Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie.
Notwithstanding My Weakness by Neal A. Maxwell.
Pure In Heart by Dallin H. Oaks.
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding
The Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer W. Kimball.
The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, Volume
#, by Bruce R. McConkie.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
22 January 2015