Christlike virtues do not exist in a vacuum. We might talk about them in isolation; we might even work on them individually. But as we develop one virtue, others naturally grow.
Mormon emphasizes the interdependence of several virtues near the end of his sermon in the synagogue:
- “I judge that ye have faith in Christ because of your meekness” (Moroni 7:39).
- “How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope?” (Moroni 7:40).
- “If a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope” (Moroni 7:42).
- “He cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be meek, and lowly of heart” (Moroni 7:43).
- “If a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity” (Moroni 7:44).
All of this hearkens back to the opening of the sermon. After telling his listeners that he believes they have “obtained a sufficient hope” to “enter into the rest of the Lord,” he explains, “I judge these things of you because of your peaceable walk with the children of men” (Moroni 7:3-4). In other words, he believes that they have hope because he sees them treating one another with charity.
During the financial crisis of 2007-2008, I witnessed the relationship between some of these attributes firsthand. I spent a lot of time in New York City during the fourth quarter of 2008, working on a merger of two banks. I observed the fears of my colleagues, who worried about the impact of the crisis on the economy generally, and also on their own livelihoods and careers. I felt those fears as well. But I noticed something else: The people who were most successful at overcoming their fears, finding internal stability, and visualizing a brighter future, tended also to be kinder and more generous toward others. Fear often led to thoughtlessness, not intentionally, but simply because the individual was so preoccupied with their worries that they had no energy left to dedicate to others. Strangely enough, the way a person treated others was a pretty good indicator of how well they were handling the anxiety caused by the crisis.
All of which reminded me of Mormon’s sermon. As you develop faith, you have more hope. As you become more meek, you become more charitable. All four attributes strengthen one another. An increase in one is an increase in them all.
Today, I will remember the interdependence of Christlike attributes. I will remember that the confidence and optimism I gain from my faith in Jesus Christ and my hope for eternal life can free up my mind and heart to be more aware of the needs of others and to live more peaceably with them.