What do James and Joseph Smith have in common?
This week we learn about the teachings of James, the apostle and half-brother of Jesus Christ. As a disciple and one of the closest people to Jesus, James gives us an up-close-and-personal witness as to how our lives should be expressions of our faith. In fact, the entire epistle of James seems to teach us how to live consistent with our professed faith.
But what kind of family life did James have in order to be able to teach others how to live a Christlike life? Surely he saw love, kindness, patience, and charity modeled by his mother, father, and siblings in the home. And undoubtedly, scriptures and prayer were a part of their family life.
The scriptures and prayer were also a part of the prophet Joseph Smith’s family life. Thousands of years after James wrote his epistle, young Joseph Smith was reading in his family bible and came across James 1:5. Joseph Smith recorded that when he read James 1:5, “never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again” (Joseph Smith—History 1:12).
It might be interesting to think about what kind of family environment shaped both James and Joseph. Their two families, although separated by thousands of years, clearly had home environments where spirituality was nurtured and scriptures were read.
Likewise, “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” teaches us how spirituality can be nurtured in our homes:
Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God … Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.
Of this, Elder Joseph B. Worthlin promised:
If you will make your home a house of prayer and fasting, faith, learning and glory, and order, it can become a house of God. If you build your homes on the foundation rock of our Redeemer and the gospel, they can be sanctuaries where your families can be sheltered from the raging storms of life.(Spiritually Strong Homes and Families, April 1993).