Sunday, November 27, 2016

Elder Neal A. Maxwell on the blessing of true friends

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.
"Remember that there are wheat and chaff in every life. A wise lady once said that what we hope our friends will do is to separate the wheat from the chaff and, with a breath of kindness, blow the chaff away. I am grateful now, as I have been over the years, for friends who have had strong lungs....
"Sometimes, in the mutual climb along the straight and narrow path, brothers and sisters, we need friends to shout warnings to us or to give us instructions, but we also need those moments when warm whispers can help us to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Good friends can give us the gifts of approval and acceptance and of perspective. How many of us have rendered that specific service for someone this month? How long has it been since you have been the recipient of such a gift? Perhaps too long in both instances. 'Deserved specific praise' is the ingredient of fellowship, of commending Christians."
- Neal A. Maxwell, "Insights from My Life," BYU Devotional October 26, 1976; see also New Era, April 1978
Click here to read or listen to the full address

Elder Maxwell speaks of some of the blessings of sincere friendship. The first is the ability friends have to overlook our faults and shortcomings, seeing the good in us:

The other blessing of a true friend is that they will walk with us, giving us warnings, instructions, and encouragement on the journey. It's impossible to understate the value of "the gifts of approval and acceptance and of perspective."

Then Elder Maxwell asks the pointed questions: are we giving that kind of friendship? Are we receiving it? He suspects not enough of that is happening, and we are missing some of the blessings of fellowship. We should seek to be "commending Christians." Perhaps as we make more efforts to offer that kind of sincere friendship, we'll receive more in return.

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