Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Neal A. Maxwell on meekness in responding to criticism and scorn

Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926-2004) served as a Seventy from 1976-1981, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve until his death from cancer in 2004.
"Meekness will permit us to endure more graciously the cruel caricaturing and misrepresentation that accompanies discipleship—especially in the rugged last days of this dispensation. Remember the fingers of scorn in Lehi's vision which pointed and mocked at those who clung to the iron rod? (See 1 Ne. 8:26-33.) The mockers were not a small minority. And they were persistent and preoccupied in their scorn of the Saints. You will come to see that preoccupation.
"Meekness permits us to be prompted as to whether to speak out or, as Jesus once did, be silent. But even when the meek speak up, they do so without speaking down.
"I stress again that meekness does not mean we are bereft of boldness. A meek, imprisoned Joseph Smith displayed remarkable boldness in rebuking the grossness of the guards in Richmond jail:
"'Silence, ye fiends of the infernal pit! In the name of Jesus Christ I rebuke you, and command you to be still; I will not live another minute and hear such language. Cease such talk, or you or I die this instant!' (History of the Church, 3:208.)
"Isn't it interesting that, in a world wrongly impressed with machismo, we see more and more coarseness which is mistaken for manliness, more and more selfishness masquerading as individuality?"
- Neal A. Maxwell, "Meekness—A Dimension of True Discipleship," BYU fireside, 5 September 1982; see Ensign, Mar 1983, pp. 70-74
Click here to read the full talk

Elder Maxwell was truly a meek and humble man; he could speak from experience, and I loved him for it. He taught frequently and well about this critical, misunderstood principle. In this speech to an audience of youth at BYU (given just a few months before I graduated; I remember attending it!), he gives both caution and counsel about the times to come. He predicted increasing amounts of mocking and scorn to be directed at true believers of Christ; and points out that the meek will be open to inspiration to know how best to respond. There are great lessons in responding from both the Savior and Joseph Smith.

True meekness, in the Gospel sense, is a grand evidence of true discipleship; and is one of the noble qualities of the Savior that we should seek to develop and exemplify.

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