Feature Stories

Love lessons from the Savior’s parables, part 2: Our job is to love, not judge

Colorful fish swimming in the sea.
The kingdom of heaven is more inviting, more colorful, more remarkable, and more effective because “fishes of every kind” belong to it.
Illustration by Maki Yamaguchi

Editor's note: This excerpt is part two of a three-part series featured in this month's LDS Living magazine.

Throughout His mortal ministry, Jesus Christ instructed His followers how to love the way He loves, not only by His example but in many of His parables. Over the next few weeks, we'll look at three parables to explore the simple yet radical lessons He taught about how we can learn to “love well.” Read part one and part three.

The Gospel Net

The parable of the gospel net expands our understanding of loving others.

This story appears in Matthew 13 near the end of several parables Jesus related about the kingdom of heaven. With the earlier parables, the Savior seems to illustrate that the audience’s expectations for how, when, and who will be saved were misinformed and misleading. Then, in verses 47–50, Jesus likened the kingdom to a fishing net that catches all who accept His gospel.

In the parable, disciples of His gospel are fishes “of every kind.” At a time in history when the Jews anticipated that only those who identified as the house of Israel would be saved in the kingdom of heaven, this parable provoked them to think bigger and broader.

Like the parable of the good Samaritan, which illuminates that all nations are our neighbors, this parable begs us to see the whole world as potential harvest in the gospel net.

There are no boundaries for our love. In fact, the kingdom of heaven appears to be more inviting, more colorful, more remarkable, and more effective because fishes “of every kind” belong to it.

Imagining that net filled to near capacity, we are struck by the beauty and strength inherent in the variety of gifts and talents within.

An important lesson of love from the parable, therefore, is that when we learn to love and invite a variety of individuals into our lives, we become more effective and capable of attracting still more into the gospel net.

As a counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, Sister Sharon Eubank stressed our need to increase our love and unity amid differences within the Church. In her October 2020 general conference talk, she cited Joseph Smith when he addressed the newly organized Relief Society:

“When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what pow’r it has over my mind. ...

“ ... The nearer we get to our heavenly Father, the more are we dispos’d to look with compassion on perishing souls—[we feel that we want] to take them upon our shoulders and cast their sins behind our back. [My talk is intended for] all this Society—if you would have God have mercy on you, have mercy on one another.”

The Prophet Joseph’s counsel leads to another lesson from the parable about seeing everyone’s divine potential. After the net is full, it is brought to shore, and angels gather the good fish into vessels while setting aside the wicked ones.

Interestingly, all the fish were once in the gospel net. The parable identifies that this gathering and separation event occurs “at the end of the world” (Matthew 13:48–49).

Today is not the end of the world, and we are not the angels who will judge. The operative instruction implied is for us to wait and see.

We live in a time when every “fish” could become a good fish before the end comes. We can’t judge which ones will and which ones won’t. Our job is to love, to care, to teach, to listen, to appreciate, and to serve.

People change. Often for the better. Especially when they feel loved.

And perhaps in an unanticipated way, through our association with such a variety of God’s children, we may be the ones who are saved from temptation and become good “fish.”

In a world where increasing numbers of people feel isolated and unseen, the parables of Jesus teach us to forget ourselves and see many who will warm to our compassion, assistance, and non-judgmental friendship. Together, we can learn to love as He loves us.

Read part one about the parable of the good Samaritan and part three about the parable of the two debtors.

Read more in the LDS Living May/June 2024 magazine

Love offers us precious moments of reprieve and joy that spur us to keep going on our walk back to our loving eternal home. And that is why the LDS Living staff is so excited about the theme for this issue: Love Well.

Our hope is that something in this issue inspires you to make space in your life for love: space to recognize it, offer it, and—perhaps most importantly—receive it. Plus, find excerpts from our best recent podcast episodes, comments from our readers, a recipe, fun facts, and more! Available at Deseret Book and deseretbook.com.

Our bi-monthly LDS Living print magazines are included with Deseret Book Platinum Rewards memberships. We also have a stand-alone subscription available. Manage your subscription here.

▶You may also like: Love lessons from the Savior’s parables, part 1: Let go of preconceived ideas

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