Test Failed

Old Man Cane

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How do You Treat People in Need?

"A group of religion instructors [were] taking a summer course on the life of the Savior and focusing particularly on the parables.

"When the final exam time came, . . . the students arrived at the classroom to find a note that the exam would be given in another building across campus.  Moreover, the note said, it must be finished within the two-hour time period that was starting almost at that moment.

"The students hurried across campus.  On the way they passed a little girl crying over a flat tire on her new bike.  An old man hobbled painfully toward the library with a cane in one hand, spilling books from a stack he was trying to manage with the other.  On a bench by the union building sat a shabbily dressed, bearded man [in obvious distress].

"Rushing into the other classroom, the students were met by the professor, who announced they had all flunked the final exam.

"The only true test of whether they understood the Savior's life and teaching, he said, was how they treated people in need.

"Their weeks of study at the feet of a capable professor had taught them a great deal of what Christ had said and done."

In their haste to finish the technicalities of the course, however, they failed to recognize the application represented by the three scenes that had been deliberately staged.  They learned the letter but not the spirit.  Their neglect of the little girl and the two men showed that the profound message of the course had not entered into their inward parts. 

President James E. Faust shared this story in April 1998 General Conference--he took it from the Church News