I have referenced this scripture many times in my posts and, as I continue my personal journey, the depth and consequence of the phrase “inasmuch as you strip yourselves from jealousies and fears, and humble yourselves before me” grow increasingly prominent. Perhaps the significance is unique to me and my journey – perhaps because I am more burdened by jealousies and fears and pride than most. I don’t think so. I suspect instead that these conditions are specified as requirements for receiving the Second Comforter because they afflict us all, standing ominously between us and the blessings of the veil.
What does it mean to strip ourselves of jealousies and fears and to humble ourselves before God? Why is this principle so important? How does one go about it? Obviously, the answer varies from person to person, but I offer the following thoughts that might apply to one degree or another to each of us:
1) A dictionary definition of jealousy is: resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage, etc., or against another’s success or advantage itself. Such feelings obviously contradict Christ’s multiple admonitions that we become one with each other, with Him and through Him with the Father. (John 17:21-23, D&C 35:2, 3 Nephi 19:23)
2) Jealousy implies dissatisfaction with who we are or what we have, which, in turn, implies a lack of gratitude. If we have trust in our Heavenly Father’s plan for us; if we have truly submitted ourselves to His will, there is no room for such dissatisfaction or ingratitude. In addition, jealousy over any kind of “possessions” clearly indicates that we have our heart set upon earthly riches (3 Nephi 13:19-21) rather than the treasures of eternity.
3) Both jealousy and fear suggest a selfish world view. Rather than being focused on loving our neighbor, we are focused upon our own needs and desires. The Savior’s commandment to consider the lilies (Matthew 6:28-30) is more consistent with becoming the type of person who can meet the Savior.
4) 1 John 4:18 says:
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
I have learned recently that, at least for me, I can only receive as much love (from the Savior) as I am willing to give. The Beatles song “The End” on the classic album “Abbey Road” said, “And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make.” Pride and jealousy clearly prevent us from receiving the fullness of the Savior’s love. We cannot abide His appearance if we cannot abide His love, for His presence is His love.
5) John 16:33 says:
If we believe Christ and if we believe His promises, we have no need for fear in our lives. In fact, we should give no place for fear in our lives.
6) D&C 121:45 says:
Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
Jealousy, fear and pride leave no room for charity. If we have not charity, we are “as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal”. (1 Corinthians 13:1) I would point out, too, that the usage of the word “distil” implies that the conditions exist whereby the doctrine will just “appear” or become part of us, like water condensing out of the air, where it is unrecognizable as water, onto the morning grass, where it causes the grass itself to shimmer and shine in the light of the morning sun. I am reminded of the experience of the Brother of Jared when he exhibited such faith that he could not be withheld from the veil (Ether 3:6-20).
7) We are told numerous times in the scriptures to beware of pride (D&C 25:14, D&C 23:1, D&C 38:39), and one of the most important conference talks ever was delivered in 1989 by President Ezra Taft Benson and was entitled, “Beware of Pride”. I bear a personal testimony of the insidiousness of pride in breeding contention with our neighbor, and especially between us and the Lord. The spirit cannot reside where pride is manifest.
The image of Christ that we derive from the scriptures, the image that Alma encourages us to receive in our countenance (Alma 5:14, 19) is that of one who has truly stripped himself of jealousies and fears. He ministered tirelessly to “multitudes”, healing, blessing and casting out spirits among the masses, sacrificing daily his privacy and personal comfort. He ultimately sacrificed His life on their (our) behalf, all the while exhibiting neither fear nor jealousy nor pride. His faith in and dedication to His Father’s will was perfect. Do we truly feel within our hearts that we can stand with confidence before Him unless we rid ourselves of jealousies and fears? Based upon my own experience, which includes an acute awareness of my own inadequacies, I submit that this can only be done through a constant state of sincere repentance enabled through that very atonement that he wrought through His perfect sacrifice.
As I progress through life in my own constant state of repentance, analyzing my behavior and choices in the light of the Holy Ghost, I am consistently made aware of the influence of jealousy, fear and pride in my life. Any time I detect contention in my heart, I am able to quickly trace it to these sources, which hold an inverse correlation to faith, trust, gratitude and charity. If I lack peace, I can be sure I have recently indulged in these destructive emotions.
Friends, this scripture is worded this way for a very important reason. It represents a “principle with promise” (D&C 89:3) which is much more difficult to follow than the more familiar Word of Wisdom, but which also promises an even greater blessing in that it prepares us to receive a personal interview with the Savior Himself. I testify that as we strip ourselves of our jealousies and fears, and humble ourselves before the Lord, the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ will become manifest in our lives; the magnificent blessings of the temple will be revealed, and the doctrine of the priesthood will ultimately distil upon our souls “as the dews from heaven”.