Recently in our morning scripture study I was reading with the kids about the people of King Limhi. They had been slow to hear and obey the word of God and as a result, when they began pleading with God to help lighten their burdens, God was slow to hear their prayers:
And now the Lord was slow to hear their cry because of their iniquities.... (Mosiah 21:15)I reflected on how the scriptures say that the degree to which we are merciful to others, God will be merciful to us.
14 For, if ye forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you;15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (3 Nephi 13)Jesus also said:
1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.I thought about my relationship with my children. (Although this post focuses on the parent-child relationship, the concepts apply to all our relationships with others.) What if I feel impatient when they keep asking me questions or if I feel frustrated when they talk to me non-stop? What if I am distracted and I don't even hear them talking to me? What if I am harsh or unkind to them in my discipline? Our behavior towards others is often based on how we judge them. For example, if a child is going on about something we find boring, we may ask them to be quiet or tell them we are too busy to listen to them. If we treat our children as boring, irritating, or needy, for example, how will God judge us? The way we deal with others will be reflected in God's attitude and behavior towards us. We may legitimately have more important things to do than listen patiently to our children, but think about how God feels about us. Somehow, despite being God of the universe He listens to our cries and answers our prayers.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. (Matthew 7)
My kids regularly wake up several times in the night and they often come and wake me. One particular night I had been woken several times by my daughter and I couldn't fall back to sleep, despite being so tired. I knew the next day was going to be difficult. Then, my daughter came into my room yet again and I was really upset. I yelled at her to go back to bed. The Lord then rebuked me, asking me if He had every yelled at me when I come to Him over and over again. I knew my behavior towards my daughter was not Christlike and I needed to repent. I apologized to her and I determined to be longsuffering when they wake me. Ever since that experience, my aim is to remember how God treats me and reflect that in how I behave towards my children. If I continued my impatient behavior towards my children when they need me in the middle of the night, can I expect that God would be quick to answer my prayers at all hours of the day and night? I know how I desire God to treat me and so I know I need to mirror that behavior towards my children.
As I interacted with my children in various ways, I have tried to reflect on how God deals with me. At times He rebukes me when I have sinned, but somehow I am able to feel so loved by Him simultaneously. I want my children to feel loved as I discipline and teach them. Is your love for your children reflected in the manner in which you discipline them? God never tries to control me. He teaches me truth and does not rescue me from the consequences of my rebellion. In raising children it is easy to slip into a routine of trying to control our children's behavior. Does your discipline aim at teaching your children truth and consequences, rather than controlling them? God is so patient and longsuffering with me. He is slow to anger and quick to forgive. Are we patient and slow to anger with our children? I know I need to treat my children in the way God has treated me, else I cannot expect to receive this treatment from the Lord. Remember, "with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." (Matthew 7:2)
God loves us. His love is unconditional. However, every blessing we receive is based on law (Doctrine and Covenants 82:10). Manifestations from God (such as greater or more frequent revelations and quicker answers to prayers) are based (in part) on the degree to which you have become like Him. If you desire greater interactions with God, you need to become more like Him. Study His characteristics. Learn about His attributes. (Of course, having an incorrect or limited understanding of His characteristics impedes our progression.) It will be evident that everything He does stems from love. Be willing to critically examine your behavior and your heart. Seek to know the Lord's perspective on the way you treat others. Be open to being corrected. Then, begin to align your thoughts, desires, and actions with those of the Lord's. As you incorporate His attributes into your life and treat others as He treats you, you will become more like Him. Over time, you will become love too. At some point, when you have become pure and more like Him, Jesus will manifest Himself to you.
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. (Moroni 7:48)