I remember with special clarity the moment I accepted Christianity. I was in my 30s and I was reading the Bible all the way through for the first time. And I came to this passage:
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (NIV version Matthew 6:1-4).
For various reasons, this is what I needed to read at that time. Over the next few days, I read and re-read the Sermon on the Mount, and it just seemed true to me in ways unlike anything else I had ever read. And imagine my surprise when I finally read the Book of Mormon that the Savior also rehearsed the Sermon on the Mount to the people in the Americas.
I now, almost two decades later, have a printed out copy of the Sermon on the Mount on my desk that I read all the time. I find it comforting and encouraging.
But I also am constantly reminded how often our modern-day culture seems to directly contradict the advice in the Sermon on the Mount. The tone of forgiveness, gentle discussion, sincerity and lack of guile seems to be the exact opposite of the behavior of so many people today. This especially applies to our outrage culture, which I find linked at the hip to the evil of virtue signaling.