Saturday, January 20, 2018

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland on living with kindness and gratitude instead of envy

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (born December 3, 1940) served as Church Commissioner of Education from 1976-1980, as the president of BYU from 1980-1989, as a Seventy from 1989-1994, and as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1994.
"Brothers and sisters, there are going to be times in our lives when someone else gets an unexpected blessing or receives some special recognition. May I plead with us not to be hurt—and certainly not to feel envious—when good fortune comes to another person? We are not diminished when someone else is added upon. We are not in a race against each other to see who is the wealthiest or the most talented or the most beautiful or even the most blessed. The race we are really in is the race against sin, and surely envy is one of the most universal of those.
"Furthermore, envy is a mistake that just keeps on giving. Obviously we suffer a little when some misfortune befalls us, but envy requires us to suffer all good fortune that befalls everyone we know! What a bright prospect that is—downing another quart of pickle juice every time anyone around you has a happy moment! To say nothing of the chagrin in the end, when we find that God really is both just and merciful, giving to all who stand with Him 'all that he hath' (Luke 12:44), as the scripture says. So lesson number one from the Lord’s vineyard: coveting, pouting, or tearing others down does not elevate your standing, nor does demeaning someone else improve your self-image. So be kind, and be grateful that God is kind. It is a happy way to live."
- Jeffrey R. Holland, "The Laborers in the Vineyard," General Conference, April 2012
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

How do we think about those around us? How to we treat them? How to we feel, deep inside, when others are successful or have an opportunity we wish to have? Those are challenging situations. Sometimes we feel unjustly treated, by man or by God; and we wonder why we are denied the blessings that seem to come to others.

Elder Holland warns us of the temptation towards envy; certainly it comes from the adversary. We can't do ourselves any good when we allow those emotions to control our thoughts and behavior.

Learning to truly feel joy when others are blessed or successful is a great key to happiness. And the ultimate truth Elder Holland reminds us of is that ultimately, we will realize that "God really is both just and merciful, giving to all who stand with Him 'all that he hath.'" Having that faith and that hope makes all the difference as we struggle through this life.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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