One of my favorite verses of scripture is Joseph Smith-History 1:28. In this verse Joseph Smith is recounting a time after the First Vision when he is experiencing severe persecution because he would not deny that he had seen a vision. There are many things that can be learned from this verse.
“…persecuted by those who ought to have been my friends…”
It won’t always be strangers who treat us cruelly or unfairly because of our beliefs. Sometimes it will be those who are closest to us. When we face persecution from friends or family members, how do we deal with it? Do we continue to reaffirm what we know to be true, or do we change who we are to make it easier to maintain the relationship?
“…and to have treated me kindly, and if they supposed me to be deluded to have endeavored in a proper and affectionate manner to have reclaimed me…”
There will be times in our lives, too, where we may be on the other side. We may have a friend or family member who we believe is doing something wrong. We may even describe them as deluded, out of their mind, crazy, or just plain ignorant to believe what they believe. In those circumstances, do we continue to treat them with the respect and affection we should, or do we resort to persecution like Joseph Smith experienced?
“…I was left to all kinds of temptations…I frequently fell into many foolish errors, and displayed the weakness of youth, and the foibles of human nature;…”
So often, we hold those in leadership positions to a higher standard of behavior. As a leader it is reasonable to expect them to set a good example, it is not reasonable to expect them to be infallible. They are subject to the same human experience that we all are.
“…I was guilty of levity, and sometimes associated with jovial company, etc., not consistent with that character which ought to be maintained by one who was called of God as I had been…”
This may be my favorite part of this verse. At first reading it may seem silly to even think of levity as something one should feel guilty of. There is no commandment I am aware of that strictly outlaws levity. But the seriousness of the sin is not what is important here. It is what is unspoken that I find most important. Joseph Smith felt that he had sinned. That feeling was probably a prompting from the Holy Ghost that he listened to and acted on. How many times have you been prompted by the Holy Ghost to not do something that you enjoy? How often have you listened to that prompting? Do we acknowledge that those promptings are from the Holy Ghost and act appropriately in response?
If you continue reading in further verses you learn that Joseph Smith went to the Lord to ask for forgiveness of his sins. This is a great example to all of us of how we should ask forgiveness even of those sins that may seem trivial or minor.
It is my hope that I can continue to be diligent in standing up for my beliefs, being a friend to those around me, supporting my leaders even with their weaknesses, and listening to the spirit to repent of those things that need to be repented of.