Emily Belle Freeman



He Knew Who They Were

We took down Christmas yesterday.

We spent the morning packing up the celebration.

The tree is the hardest part.  It's too big for one person to put away alone.

So I enlisted some help from this guy.

I knew the sacrifice would require a gift of some sort, and I know him well enough to know what he would love.  Food of any sort goes a long way.  And a LOT of food is an even better incentive.

So I bribed him with a huge omelette for his time. One and a half pounds of omelette.

See that smile?

Sometimes if you are going to ask something of someone it helps if you know them well.  Really well.  Because if you can offer a reward for their effort, a reward that is meaningful to them, it makes the effort all the more worthwhile.

The Savior taught like this.

Remember the man at the pool of Bethesda?

"When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him Wilt thou be made whole?" (John 5:6)

He knew.

That the man had been a long time in that case.  That he longed to be made whole.

The Savior always knew the details of those whose life He was about to change.

I think of the man who was blind from birth.

The Savior spat on the ground and made clay, and anointed the eyes of the man and then told him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam."  (John 9:7)

Receiving the gift would require action on the part of the blind man.  Sacrifice.  It would require following the instruction of The Teacher.

Why did the man go wash?

Because he wanted to received the gift.  He wanted to see.  He wanted to be healed.

The same is true in our own life.

Why do we immerse ourselves in living water?

Is it just because it is on our list of things to do?  A requirement in our day?

Or is it because we too want to see...because we too want to partake of the healing power found therein?

Sometimes the sacrifice is made because of the longing for the gift.

If we want to teach after the example of the Savior we must come to understand this principle.

It is not enough to just explain the commandment, the law, the requirement.

We must know our student well enough to know why living that commandment would become a blessing in their life...and we need to remember to teach that promise along with the principle.

Sometimes we forget about the reward.

When the Savior taught, "He knew who they were and who they could become. He found unique ways to help them learn and grow—ways meant just for them. When they struggled, He did not give up on them but continued to love them and minister to them."  (Teaching the Gospel in the Savior's Way)

When we know who they are, and who they can become...when we really know them, then we can teach them principles that really will help them change for the better.  Truly knowing them will allow us to understand why helping them live a certain doctrine will bless their lives.

The boy who helped me take down the Christmas tree taught me this.

He moved in with us almost a year and a half ago.

He had been in jail.  He had been evicted from his home.  He was standing on the sidewalk with all of his belongings.  He had no where to go.

So Greg brought him home.

There were certain conditions.  Among others, he had to go to church and he had to pay his tithing.  After several months we began to see remarkable changes in this young man.

But he didn't.

One day he sat at the top of the stairs.  "I don't know why I am paying my tithing.  What is it supposed to do for me?"

I knew the answer...the proving...the windows of heaven...the blessings pouring.

But no one had taught him that.

He knew to pay the 10%.

He didn't know to watch for the promise that would follow.

I said to him, "Do you notice the blessings that are coming from paying your tithing?"

"I don't think so," He replied with his head bent low, eyes focused on the floor.

"Well,"  I said, "Do you have someplace to live?"

"Yes," he replied.

"Did you have that before you started paying your tithing?"

He shook his head no.

"Do you have a job?"

"Yes," he replied again.

"Did you have a job before you started paying your tithing?"

He shook his head no again.

"Do you have direction in your life?  Purpose?  Something to look forward to every day?"

"Ya," he said, finally lifting his eyes up off the floor.

"Did you have that before you started paying your tithing?"  I questioned.

"No." He replied.

"So," I said with a smile on my face, "Have you been blessed for paying your tithing in a way you have not been blessed before."

"Yes," he replied with a sheepish grin filling his face.

"Is it worth it?" I asked.

"Yes, it's worth it," he said, "It really is."

I realized in that moment how important it is to teach the promise with the principle.  We can't forget to teach the promise.  And we must know our student well enough to know why living the principle will be so important in their life.

Why the promise matters.

Because sometimes the sacrifice is made because of the longing for the gift.

The Savior understood this knowing.  Think of the woman at the well.  Peter walking on the water.  Nicodemus.  The Savior knew them well enough to know the lesson meant for them.  And the lessons always included a promise, "whosoever drinketh of  the water that I shall give him shall never thirst..." (John 4:14)   "Immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand and caught him..."(Matthew 14:31)  "He that doeth truth cometh to the light..."  (John 3:21)

A promise there within the lesson.

He did not give up.

He knew them.