Living After the Manner of Happiness

Each time I read 2 Nephi 5:271  I am intrigued by Nephi’s words we lived after the manner of happiness. These words are especially insightful when you consider the circumstances Nephi and his family found themselves in.  After reading this scripture again last month as part of my individual study, I decided to do some additional study on the topic of happiness and especially living after the manner of happiness. In light of the current global pandemic, the timing could not have been better!  

Is it possible today to live after the manner of happiness?  Absolutely!  Is there confusion and chaos all around us?  Yes!  But does that really have anything to do with our happiness?  

In a BYU-Idaho devotional a few years ago, Jeffrey R. Holland reminded us that the first thirty years of the Book of Mormon were quite the opposite of what would normally be described as happy.  He said, “The first 30 years of Book of Mormon history do not present a pleasant story.  After the abrupt necessity of abandoning their entire earthly fortune, leaving Jerusalem hastily on the eve of international conflict, crossing the Arabian peninsula in the most adverse of circumstances, building a boat without any prior experience in doing so, crossing an ocean with would-be fatal conflicts breaking out repeatedly and landing in a primitive, unknown new land with all the hardship such a settlement would entail, the hostility within the family of Lehi and Sariah became so intense that the two halves of their family split asunder, with one group fleeing yet farther into the wilderness, fearing for their lives lest they fall victim to the bloodthirsty quest of the other.  As they plunged into unsettled terrain to seek safety and fashion a life for themselves as best they could, the prophet-leader of this Nephite half of the family says they now tried to live ‘after the manner of happiness.’  In light of what they had just been through for thirty years and with what we know yet lay in store for them in the trials almost constantly ahead, such a comment seems almost painful.  How could any of this be described as anything remotely like ‘happiness’?”2

Although our own list of trials most likely won’t come anywhere close to Nephi’s, we all have experienced heartache, loss, betrayal and unexpected changes in our lives.  No one is exempt from times that would be difficult, if not impossible, to describe as happy.  But Elder Holland emphasized, “Nephi does not say they were happy, though it is evident they actually were.  What he says is, they ‘lived after the manner of happiness.’ … There is a wonderful key in that phrase that can unlock precious blessings for you. … Your best chance for being happy is to do the things that happy people do.  Live the way happy people live.  Walk the path that happy people walk.  And your chances to find joy in unexpected moments, to find peace in unexpected places, to find the help of angels when you didn’t even know they knew you existed, improves exponentially. … Above all else, ultimate happiness, true peace, and anything even remotely close to scriptural joy are found first, foremost, and forever in living the gospel of Jesus Christ.”2 

President Spencer W. Kimball similarly taught, “The treasure house of happiness is unlocked to those who live the gospel of Jesus Christ in its purity and simplicity. … The assurance of supreme happiness, the certainty of a successful life here and of exaltation and eternal life hereafter, come to those who plan to live their lives in complete harmony with the gospel of Jesus Christ—and then consistently follow the course they have set.”3

Richard G. Scott said, “Recognize that enduring happiness comes from what you are, not from what you have.”4

This surely was the case with Nephi and his people.  Earlier in Chapter 5, Nephi indicated that they “did observe to keep the judgments, and the statutes, and the commandments of the Lord in all things.”5    And even as they were trying to build their new life, they “did build a temple.”6  They knew that to live after the manner of happiness it was necessary put the Savior at the center of their lives!

Living that way filled their lives with hope.  

“Hope,” taught Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “has the power to fill our lives with happiness. … Hope is … the abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill His promise to us. It is confidence that if we live according to God’s laws and the words of His prophets now, we will receive desired blessings in the future. It is believing and expecting that our prayers will be answered. It is manifest in confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance.  In the language of the gospel, this hope is sure, unwavering, and active. … With hope comes joy and happiness. With hope, we can ‘have patience, and bear … [our] afflictions.’”7

I love the reminder that hope is active.  We have to do something!  With an active hope in Jesus Christ, no matter what is going on in our lives, we can live after the manner of happiness. 

Neal A. Maxwell taught about active hope when he said, “Those … who ‘plow in hope’ not only understand the law of the harvest but they also understand what growing seasons are all about.”8  This active hope propels us not only to act and sustains us if we are patience in our “growing seasons.”  We must plant hope in the Savior if we want to reap peace and happiness.  True happiness only comes because of Him.

Elder Maxwell continues, “The more we know of Jesus, the more we will love Him. The more we know of Jesus, the more we will trust Him. The more we know of Jesus, the more we will want to be like Him and to be with Him by becoming the manner of men and women that He wishes us to be, while living now ‘after the manner of happiness.’  Therefore, with the help of the Holy Ghost, we can glorify Christ by repenting and thereby accessing the blessings of the astonishing Atonement which He provided for us at such a stunning cost!  So, brothers and sisters, given what Jesus died for, are we willing to live with the challenges allotted to us?”8

Trials are a necessary part of this earthly life.   We knew that before we came here.  And we have a loving Heavenly Father who has never expected us to bear those trials alone.  We will never live after the manner of happiness if our lives are filled with despair.  Despair is the opposite of hope.  President Uchtdorf warned, “Doubt, despair and failure … can cause us to forfeit choice and precious blessings. The adversary uses despair to bind hearts and minds in suffocating darkness. Despair drains from us all that is vibrant and joyful and leaves behind the empty remnants of what life was meant to be. Despair kills ambition, advances sickness, pollutes the soul, and deadens the heart. Despair can seem like a staircase that leads only and forever downward.”7

Many are feeling such despair right now.  Oh, how we should follow President Uchtdorf’s advice to harness the infinite power of hope!  He reassures us that hope “is like the beam of sunlight rising up and above the horizon of our present circumstances. It pierces the darkness with a brilliant dawn. It encourages and inspires us to place our trust in the loving care of an eternal Heavenly Father, who has prepared a way for those who seek for eternal truth in a world of relativism, confusion, and of fear.”7

From the moment President Nelson addressed us as our new prophet, he has asked us to make our homes sanctuaries of faith, increase our ability to receive personal revelation, increase our temple worship, learn and live the gospel of Jesus Christ, and come to know the Savior better.  When we strive to do each of these, we truly are living after the manner of happiness!  This is active hope!

President Uchtdorf said, “The things we hope in sustain us during our daily walk. They uphold us through trials, temptations, and sorrow. Everyone has experienced discouragement and difficulty. Indeed, there are times when the darkness may seem unbearable. It is in these times that the divine principles of the restored gospel we hope in can uphold us and carry us until, once again, we walk in the light.  We hope in Jesus the Christ, in the goodness of God, in the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, in the knowledge that prayers are heard and answered.  Hope sustains us through despair. Hope teaches that there is reason to rejoice even when all seems dark around us.”7 

Although there is despair all around us, we have great reason to hope.  Nearly twenty years ago, Neal A. Maxwell said, “The world is ‘in commotion,’ but the kingdom is in forward motion as never before!”8  That perfectly describes what is happening now.  The world is in commotion!  For many the future is very uncertain.  But we can feel peace as we live after the manner of happiness by following the prophet of God.  He has told us, “Life is filled with detours and dead ends, trials and challenges of every kind. Each of us has likely had times when distress, anguish, and despair almost consumed us.  Yet we are here to have joy[.] … The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.  When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation … and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives. Joy comes from and because of Him. He is the source of all joy. … For Latter-day Saints, Jesus Christ is joy!”9

How blessed we are to be led by a living prophet!  The kingdom of God is indeed moving forward at an unprecedented pace.

A few days ago, President Nelson sent out a video to help us live after the manner of happiness during this strange and trying time.  He told us, “My dear friends, our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ know us, love us, and are watching over us. Of that we can be certain. These unique challenges will pass in due time. I remain optimistic for the future. I know the great and marvelous blessings that God has in store for those who love Him and serve Him. I see evidence of His hand in this holy work in so many ways. So, during these uncertain times, be comforted by this promise from the Savior. He said, ‘I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say.’ I promise you that joy is always within the reach of everyone who will hear Him and obey His laws. I love you. I pray for you. And I promise that you will receive comfort and peace as you continue to hear Him.”10

At a time when we are being constantly reminded to take care of ourselves physically and distance ourselves from unseen dangers, let’s not forget to take care of ourselves spiritually, always guarding against anything that can be spiritually harmful.

May we “live the way happy people live” and “walk the path that happy people walk” so that we can “find joy in unexpected moments, … peace in unexpected places, and … the help of angels.”2  I know that true happiness is found in living the gospel of Jesus Christ and walking the covenant path back to our heavenly home.


  1.  2 Nephi 5:27

  2.  Living After the Manner of Happiness – Jeffrey R. Holland

  3.  Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball – Chapter 1

  4.  Making the Right Decisions – Richard G. Scott

  5.  2 Nephi 5:10

  6.  2 Nephi 5:16

  7.  The Infinite Power of Hope – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

  8.  Plow in Hope – Neal A. Maxwell

  9.  Joy and Spiritual Survival – Russell M. Nelson

10.  My Message of Hope and Love for You – Russell M. Nelson

Becoming More Christlike

President Russell M. Nelson recently issued a very personal invitation to the women of the Church to “study prayerfully section 25 of the Doctrine and Covenants and discover what the Holy Ghost will teach you. Your personal spiritual endeavor will bring you joy as you gain, understand, and use the power with which you have been endowed.  Part of this endeavor will require you to put aside many things of this world. Sometimes we speak almost casually about walking away from the world with its contention, pervasive temptations, and false philosophies. But truly doing so requires you to examine your life meticulously and regularly. As you do so, the Holy Ghost will prompt you about what is no longer needful, what is no longer worthy of your time and energy.”1

Reading this section while studying October’s doctrinal topic of becoming more Christlike was very enlightening.  I made a list of several words and phrases from it that perfectly define characteristics of the Savior or things I can do to become more like Him. That list includes being faithful; walking in the paths of virtue; not murmuring ; being a comfort with consoling words, in the spirit of meekness; expounding scriptures; spending more time learning the gospel; not being fearful; laying aside the things of this world, and seeking for the things of a better; being meek; and keeping the commandments continuously.  Acquiring and refining these Christlike attributes will bless me as I “put aside many things of this world”1 and pursue the “personal spiritual endeavor”1 that our prophet has asked us all to undertake. 

Keep those words and phrases in mind as we contemplate the admonition found in the Book of Mormon to “be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive. And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works.”2

Once again, the words higher and holier keep coming to my mind.  And it is undeniable that striving to become like the Savior is striving to live in a higher and holier way.  President Nelson reminds us that “Jesus … taught, ‘Be ye holy; for I am holy.’ His hope for us is crystal clear! He declared: ‘What manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.’ Thus, our adoration of Jesus is best expressed by our emulation of Jesus.  People have never failed to follow Jesus because his standards were imprecise or insufficiently high. Quite to the contrary. Some have disregarded his teachings because they were viewed as being too precise or impractically high! Yet such lofty standards, when earnestly pursued, produce great inner peace and incomparable joy.”3

The words even as I am may seem quite daunting.  However, we can be assured that if our actions and our reactions are aligned with the Savior’s, we will have great inner peace and incomparable joy.  In every situation, He is our perfect example.  President Nelson said, “As our great Exemplar, Jesus taught us how to live, to love, and to learn. He taught us how to pray, to forgive, and endure to the end. He taught us how to care about others more than we care about ourselves. He taught us about mercy and kindness—making real changes in our lives through His power. He taught us how to find peace of heart and mind.”4

Take a moment to think of the times in your life when you have sincerely tried to be even as the Savior is.  Especially during some difficult times in my life, being taught by His example has helped me to know how do things and given me strength to endure things I could never have done on my own.

The Christlike attributes each of us needs to work on will be different.  However, I would like to share five specific aspects of the Savior’s life President Nelson once suggested we all should strive to emulate.  They are love, ordinances, prayer, knowledge and enduring to the end.  As we discuss each of these, ponder on how developing or improving on these specific areas can help you live in a higher and holier way. 

Love – The expression of the Savior’s love includes “compassion, kindness, charity, devotion, forgiveness, mercy, justice, and more. … Another expression of our Savior’s love was his service. … All loving relationships are elevated in him. Love of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ provides the illumination, inspiration, and motivation to love others in a loftier way.”5   Last year the prophet taught, “With the Savior’s help, we can learn to love as He loved. It may require a change of heart—most certainly a softening of our hearts—as we are tutored by the Savior how to really take care of each other.”6  As we follow His example, we will love in a higher and holier way. 

Ordinances – “A second aspect of the Savior’s exemplary life was his emphasis upon sacred ordinances. During his mortal ministry he demonstrated the importance of the ordinances of salvation. He was baptized by John in the Jordan River. … Later the Lord instituted the ordinance of the sacrament and linked it to that of baptism. … During the Lord’s postmortal ministry, the higher ordinances of exaltation have been revealed. He has provided for these ordinances in his holy temples. … His focus on ordinances is a powerful part of his example to us. … Ordinances provide a focus for service of eternal worth.”5  Earlier this year, the prophet said, “The Savior invites all to follow Him into the waters of baptism and, in time, to make additional covenants with God in the temple and receive and be faithful to those further essential ordinances.”7  As we follow His example, we will partake of the sacrament and participate in the ordinances of the temple in a higher and holier way.

Prayer – “Jesus prayed to his Father in Heaven and also taught us how to pray. … The Savior’s example of prayer reminds us that personal prayer, family prayer, and prayerful pursuit of our assignment in the Church should become part of our lives. To know and to do the will of the Father provides great spiritual strength and confidence. To be on the Lord’s side is where we want to be.”5  President Nelson shares the Savior’s ultimate example, “Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world—He who ransomed us with His blood—is our Redeemer and our Exemplar. At the close of His mortal mission, He prayed that His will—as the Beloved Son—might be swallowed up in the will of the Father. In that crucial hour the Savior cried, ‘Father, … not as I will, but as thou wilt.’ So we should pray to God, ‘Thy will be done.’”8   As we follow His example, our time in prayer will be holier.

Knowledge – “A fourth aspect of the Lord’s example is the use of his divine knowledge. … Many non-Christians acknowledge that Jesus was a great teacher. Indeed, he was. But what truly distinguished his teaching? … He taught truths of eternal significance. Only he could have revealed our purpose in life. Only through him could we learn of our premortal existence and of our postmortal potential. … Knowledge ‘of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be’ allows us to act upon true principles and doctrine. That knowledge will lift our level of behavior.”5  Because the Savior taught us truths of eternal significance, and because we know we are children of God, our behavior should be higher and holier.

Endure to the End – “A fifth aspect of the Lord’s ministry … is his commitment to endure to the end. Never did he withdraw from his assignment. Though he experienced suffering beyond our comprehension, he was not a quitter. Through deepening trials he endured to the end of his assignment: to atone for the sins of all humankind. His final words as he hung from the cross were, ‘It is finished.’”5 Do we allow the Savior’s example to endure to strengthen our own commitment to endure to the end?  In the many ways we can follow His example to endure, this one President Nelson included resonated with me, “It means that we will never, no never, give up on a loved one who has strayed. And it means that we will always cherish our eternal family relationships, even through difficult days of disease, disability, or death.”5  Do we truly comprehend the eternal importance of the Savior’s enduring to the end?  President Nelson puts it into perspective. “What if Jesus had wavered in His commitment to do His Father’s will? His Atonement would not have been accomplished. The dead would not be resurrected. The blessings of immortality and eternal life would not be. But Jesus did endure. During His final hour, Jesus prayed to His Father, saying, ‘I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.’”9  Enduring to the end as the Savior did is our ultimate test of living and loving in a higher and holier way.

Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life.10  Because of His perfect example, we know what we need to do to return to live with our Heavenly Father again.  As we strive daily to pursue the incredible charge to become even as He is, a consistent and constant study of His life and teachings will be necessary.  President Nelson has taught, “Our busy lives force us to focus on things we do from day to day.  But the development of character comes only as we focus on who we really are. … When we feast upon the words of Christ, they … become an integral part of our nature.”11 

Some of my favorite words of Christ are found in Moroni 7, “Cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him. Wherefore, … pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons (and daughters) of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure.”12

Allowing the words of Christ to become an integral part of our nature will help us on our personal spiritual endeavor to become more like the Savior.  Our attitudes and actions will be higher and holier.  Then when He shall appear, we will recognize Him because we will be even as He is.


  1. Spiritual Treasures – Russell M. Nelson
  2. Alma 7:23-24
  3. Perfection Pending – Russell M. Nelson
  4. Jesus the Christ —Our Prince of Peace – Russell M. Nelson
  5. Gratitude for the Mission and Ministry of Jesus Christ – Russell M. Nelson
  6. Four Gifts That Jesus Offers to You – Russell M. Nelson
  7. “Come, Follow Me” – Russell M. Nelson
  8. Lessons From the Lord’s Prayer – Russell M. Nelson
  9. Endure and Be Lifted Up – Russell M. Nelson
  10. John 14:6
  11. Living By Scriptural Guidance– Russell M. Nelson
  12. Moroni 7:46-48

Becoming More Christlike

Becoming more Christlike is October’s doctrinal study.  When we are baptized, we promise to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ.  What exactly does that mean?   Perhaps the simple words from a Primary song teach us best.  “I’m trying to be like Jesus.  I’m following in His ways.  I’m trying to love as He did in all that I do and say.”1  The Savior is our perfect example!  Some of the characteristics He exemplified are obedience, patience, purity, diligence, humility, faith, hope, and charity.  Acquiring these characteristics throughout our lives will be challenging and ongoing.  Yet that is exactly what we have been instructed to do.  Remember what the Savior told the Nephites when He visited with them after His resurrection.  “What manner of men ought ye to be?  Verily I say unto you, even as I am.”2

We can never be like the Savior if we do not know who He is or how He lived.  This is something King Benjamin warned his people about.  He said, “For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?”3   To truly understand how to be even as the Savior is, a serious study of the His life is imperative.  We must learn as much about Him as we can, knowing how He interacted with others and especially how He interacted with His Father.  Only then can we really learn how to become more Christlike.  When He is in our thoughts daily and our love for Him effects our actions and interactions, as promised in the sacrament prayers, we will be able to have His Spirit with us always.  With that incredible gift, we will be able to develop Chrlistlike characteristics.

One of the things I often pray for is to become more Christlike.  One day I realized the need to be a little more specific in that.  So, now some days I pray for more patience.  Other times it is to be more humble. Often I pray to have deeper charity.  David A. Bednar’s conference talk on meekness really hit home to me!  I had never thought to pray for that!  I have noticed that when I pray for meekness, I seem to have more patience, more humility and more charity, even without specifically praying for them.  Surely that is becasuse, as Elder Bednar reminded us, meekness is “the foundation from which all spiritual capacities and gifts arise.”4  And for that reason I have chosen his talk as our focus, although there are many talks from April’s conference that teach us about other divine characteristics of Jesus Christ and which are equally worth our study.

Sometimes people think of meekness as weakness.  It is definitely not!  Elder Bednar defined it like this, “Meekness is strong, not weak; active, not passive; courageous, not timid; restrained, not excessive; modest, not self-aggrandizing; and gracious, not brash.  A meek person is not easily provoked, pretentious, or overbearing and readily acknowledges the accomplishments of others. … Meekness is the principal protection from the prideful blindness that often arises from prominence, position, power, wealth, and adulation.”4

Elder Bednar taught that meekness is “a vital aspect of the Savior’s divine nature that each of us should strive to emulate.”4  To help us to learn more about and better understand meekness, he shared three examples.  First he noted the similarities between the rich young man in the New Testament and Amulek in the Book of Mormon.  While the young man the Savior interacted with had kept the commandments, he could not give up his worldly possessions and continue following the Savior.  On the other hand, after being instructed by an angel, Amulek was “spiritually awakened” and gave up his wealth, his family, and his friends to follow the Savior for the rest of his life.

The second example was Pahoran’s response to a letter he received from Moroni.  To put it mildly, it was a harsh letter!  Moroni wasn’t receiving the support he needed for his army and was accusing Pahoran of not only neglecting their needs but also of being a traitor.  Elder Bednar said, “Pahoran easily might have resented Moroni and his inaccurate allegations, but he did not. He responded compassionately and described a rebellion against the government about which Moroni was not aware.”4  Pahoran’s response to Moroni was, “I do not joy in your great afflictions, yea, it grieves my soul. … In your epistle you have censured me, but it matterth not; I am not angry, but do rejoice in the greatness of your heart.”5   

The last example was President Nelson’s and President Eyring’s response to President Monson’s request given during the April 2017 General Conference.  He implored the members of the Church to prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon every day.  Immediately these two apostles of God heeded the counsel of the prophet.  The following general conference, each shared the life-changing experience this had been.  

Elder Bednar said, “I am not suggesting that the spiritually strong responses of Amulek, Pahoran, President Nelson, and President Eyring are explained by only one Christlike quality. Certainly, many interrelated attributes and experiences led to the spiritual maturity reflected in the lives of these four noble servants. But the Savior and His prophets have highlighted an essential quality that all of us need to more fully understand and strive to incorporate into our lives. … Meekness is a defining attribute of the Redeemer and is distinguished by righteous responsiveness, willing submissiveness, and strong self-restraint. This quality helps us to understand more completely the respective reactions of Amulek, Pahoran, President Nelson, and President Eyring.”4

Imagine how our lives will be blessed when we, in meekness, righteously and rapidly respond to the prophet of God, when we willingly submit to God’s will, and when we, with perspective and strong self-restraint, act rather than react. 

So how can we develop this vitally important divine attribute?  Elder Bednar taught, “Meekness is an attribute developed through desire, the righteous exercise of moral agency, and striving always to retain a remission of our sins.  It is also a spiritual gift for which we appropriately can seek. … As we come unto and follow the Savior, we increasingly and incrementally are enabled to become more like Him.  We are empowered by the Spirit with disciplined self-restraint and a settled and calm demeanor.  Thus, meek is what we become as disciples of the Master and not just something we do.”4

Because Jesus Christ is the perfect example of meekness, we know that our greatest learning comes from Him.  His Atonement is the greatest evidence of willingly submitting to His Father’s will.  Think about the events from Gethsemane to Golgotha.  He showed us perfectly what it means to righteously and rapidly respond, to willingly submit and to be blessed with perspective and strong self-restraint to act rather than react.

This is the most supreme act of love that this world has even known.  It can and will bless us every day if we choose to let it.  We need the power of His Atonement to help us change and become more like Him. “Meekness,” Elder Bednar said, “can be received and developed in our lives because of and through the Savior’s Atonement.”4  Without meekness we will never be able to develop the Chrlistlike attribute of charity.

I think some of the most beautiful scriptures are found in Moroni 7:44-48.  Charity and other divine characteristics of Christ are listed in these scriptures and their relationship to each other explained. Verse 48 is my favorite!  “Pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure.”6  I love the words “when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”  Only if we know what meekness and charity look like and feel like will we recognize the Savior.  Only if we are meek and full of charity will we be like Him.

To my favorite scripture, I add one of my favorite hymns.  When I need of a gentle reminder of how I am supposed to be and who I am supposed to become, those scriptures and this hymn help me keep the proper perspective on the things that matter most.

More holiness give me,
More strivings within,
More patience in suff’ring,
More sorrow for sin,
More faith in my Savior,
More sense of his care,
More joy in his service,
More purpose in prayer.

More gratitude give me,
More trust in the Lord,
More pride in his glory,
More hope in his word,
More tears for his sorrows,
More pain at his grief,
More meekness in trial,
More praise for relief.

More purity give me,
More strength to o’ercome,
More freedom from earth-stains,
More longing for home.
More fit for the kingdom,
More used would I be,
More blessed and holy—
More, Savior, like thee.7

I love my Savior!  I am so grateful for His perfect example.  I know from personal experience that following His example of meekness will bring a settled peace in our lives that can come in no other way. Knowing how He lived and responded to the challenges in His life will help us as we try to figure out our own challenges.  There is nothing we go through in this life that He cannot help us with.  He has showed us how we should live and how we should love.  “What manner of men ought ye to be?  Verily I say unto you, even as I am.”2 

Russell M. Nelson once said, “If you really want to be like the Lord … you will remember that your adoration of Jesus is best shown by your emulation of Him.”8  Our challenge is to love Him enough to become more like Him.


1.  I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus – Children’s Songbook

2.  3 Nephi 27:27

3.  Mosiah 5:13

4.  Meek and Lowly of Heart – David A. Bednar

5.  Alma 61:9

6.  Moroni 7:48

7.  More Holiness Give Me – Hymn 131

8.  Endure and Be Lifted Up – Russell M. Nelson

increase our faith

Move Forward With Faith

This year’s study of the life and teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley has been so wonderful and uplifting! The underlying message in each chapter has been faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Chapter 25, Move Forward with Faith, is the perfect conclusion to this year’s study. Those words were the motto of his exemplary life. Jeffrey R. Holland once wrote, “’Things will work out’ may well be President Hinckley’s most repeated assurance to family, friends, and associates. ‘Keep trying,’ he will say. ‘Be believing. Be happy. Don’t get discouraged. Things will work out.’”1

Optimism and faith were instilled in President Hinckley as a young boy. When he left to go on his mission, his father handed him a card which read, “Be not afraid, only believe.” Those words were a great inspiration to him not only on his mission but throughout his entire life. He reminds us, “If there is any one thing that you and I need, … it is faith—the kind of faith that moves us to get one our knees and plead with the Lord for guidance, and then, having a measure of divine confidence, get on our feet and go to work. … Such faith is, when all is said and done, our only genuine and lasting hope.”

That kind of faith is what fueled his ever-optimistic attitude, something that endeared him to us all! Russell M. Nelson described it like this, “President Hinckley was unfailingly optimistic, an outgrowth of his complete faith in the Lord.”2

Along with optimism, President Hinckley’s unwavering faith gave him confidence – divine confidence that with the Lord’s help he could do whatever was asked of him. While he was on his mission, a few of the local newspapers reviewed the reprint of a book that was critical of the Church’s history. His mission president asked him to meet with the publisher and protest it. Although he felt inadequate for the job, he agreed to go. He first said a prayer and then walked to the publisher’s. President Hinckley shared what happened, “I found the office of the president and presented my card to the receptionist. She took it and went into the inner office and soon returned to say that the president was too busy to see me. I replied that I had come five thousand miles [8,000 kilometers] and that I would wait. During the next hour she made two or three trips to his office; then finally he invited me in. I shall never forget the picture when I entered. He was smoking a long cigar with a look that seemed to say, ‘Don’t bother me.’ I held in my hand the reviews. I do not recall what I said after that. Another power seemed to be speaking through me. At first he was defensive and even belligerent. Then he began to soften. He concluded by promising to do something. Within an hour word went out to every book dealer in England to return the books to the publisher. At great expense he printed and tipped in the front of each volume a statement to the effect that the book was not to be considered as history, but only as fiction, and that no offense was intended against the respected Mormon people. Years later he granted another favor of substantial worth to the Church, and each year until the time of his death I received a Christmas card from him.”

President Nelson said that President Hinckley could confidently speak about the gospel with everyone, be they experienced journalists or world leaders. He said, “I witnessed how he softened the heart of Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the Soviet Union, who initially resisted an invitation to meet with President Hinckley in his office. Instead, Mr. Gorbachev wanted President Hinckley to come to Gorbachev’s hotel room. But when they met at Church headquarters, President Hinckley pointed out the beautiful Circassian walnut paneling in the First Presidency’s council room. When President Hinckley told Mr. Gorbachev where that wood was from, Mr. Gorbachev was amazed! That wood had come from the very region of his birthplace in Russia! His mood warmed immediately.”2

Through word and deed, President Hinckley taught, “If you do your best, it will all work out. Put your trust in God, and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us. … There is no obstacle too great, no challenge too difficult, if we have faith.”

Perhaps because his own life had been so richly blessed by his faith, President Hinckley said, “Of all our needs, I think the greatest is an increase in faith.” For part of one general conference talk, he took from the scripture in Luke which reads, “Lord, increase our faith” and offered a prayer for us all that our Father in Heaven would help us to increase our faith in very specific areas. Imagine how much richer our lives would be if we would petition our Heavenly Father for ourselves and our families in such a way! His prayer included:

“Increase our faith to bridge the chasms of uncertainty and doubt.

“Increase our faith to rise above the feeble detractors of this Thy great and holy work.

“Grant us faith to look beyond the problems of the moment to the miracles of the future.

“Give us faith to pay our tithes and offerings.

“Give us faith to do what is right and let the consequence follow.

“Grant us faith when storms of adversity beat us down and drive us to the ground.

“When we walk in the valley of the shadow of death, give us faith to smile through our tears, knowing that it is all part of the eternal plan of a loving Father, … and that through the atonement of the Son of God all share rise from the grave.

“Give us faith to pursue the work of redemption of the dead.

“Grant us faith to follow counsel in the little things that can mean so very much.

“Increase our faith in one another, and in ourselves, and in our capacity to do good and great things.

“Increase our faith in Thee, and in Thy Beloved Son.”

In the next few days, we all will be thinking about the things can improve upon in the coming year. This year as we make our New Year’s Resolutions, let the one we put at the top of our list be to increase our faith!


1. President Gordon B. Hinckley: Stalwart and Brave He Stands – Jeffrey R. Holland

2. Prophets, Leadership and Divine Law – Russell M. Nelson

Fellowship With Those Who Are Not of Our Faith

We are all familiar with the parable of the good Samaritan. As a man was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho, he was robbed and left for dead. Seeing him, a priest crossed the road and passed on the other side, so as not to encounter the man. A Levite also passed by, offering no help. But when the Samaritan saw him, “he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.” Jesus then posed this question, “Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among thieves?” The answer, of course, was the one who showed compassion. To which the Savior said, “Go, and do thou likewise.”1 

Of this parable, M. Russell Ballard says, “I am impressed with its power and its simplicity. But have you ever wondered why the Savior chose to make the hero of this story a Samaritan? There was considerable antipathy between the Jews and the Samaritans at the time of Christ. Under normal circumstances, these two groups avoided association with each other. It would still be a good, instructive parable if the man who fell among thieves had been rescued by a brother Jew. His deliberate use of Jews and Samaritans clearly teaches that we are all neighbors and that we should love, esteem, respect, and serve one another despite our deepest differences—including religious, political, and cultural differences.”2

What a great reminder this parable is as we study Chapter 20, Fellowship With Those Who are Not of Our Faith. In the lesson, Gordon B. Hinckley teaches, “We must never forget that we live in a world of great diversity. The people of the earth are all our Father’s children and are of many and varied religious persuasions. We must cultivate tolerance and appreciation and respect one another. …We must never adopt a holier-than-thou attitude. We must not be self-righteous. We must be magnanimous and open and friendly. We can keep our faith. We can practice our religion. We can cherish our method of worship without being offensive to others. I take this occasion to plead for a spirit of tolerance and neighborliness, of friendship and love toward those of other faiths.”

When my children were swimming competitively, I had the pleasure to become acquainted with a wonderful woman. Although our children swam for different teams, we would see each regularly. Through the years, we would often sit together and talk. We became good friends. During one of the meets, she shared with me how her son was being ridiculed and teased incessantly by the “Mormon” boys on his team. I was sad to learn that their mothers had also excluded my friend and treated her poorly. Even more unfortunate was the fact that this seemed to be a common experience for them.  I told my friend that I, too, was a Mormon. And I explained that that kind of behavior was not what our religion taught. In fact, it was completely contrary to what we believe. Although she has moved to another state, we have remained friends. I have often hoped she is having better interactions with members of the Church there than when she lived here.

Unfortunately, that was not my only experience having to explain that excluding others is not what we are taught. I have a friend whose son invited several boys from school to his birthday party. Only one came. When her son saw his best friend at school the Monday after the party, he asked him why he hadn’t come. His friend told him that his mother wouldn’t let him because he wasn’t a Mormon.  My friend’s son was devastated! My friend did not know how to explain that kind of thinking to her son. And understandably so! I told her that from the pulpit of general conference we have been taught NOT to do that and expressed my embarrassment, shame and sadness that her family had to deal with that kind of mistreatment from members of my church! Gratefully my friend has had some very positive experiences with members of the Church, particularly when she was younger and lived in another state. But that doesn’t diminish the hurt that is being caused by careless members now.

Elder Ballard specifically addressed both of these situations when he said, “Occasionally I hear of members offending those of other faiths by overlooking them and leaving them out. This can occur especially in communities where our members are the majority. I have heard about narrow-minded parents who tell children that they cannot play with a particular child in the neighborhood simply because his or her family does not belong to our Church. This kind of behavior is not in keeping with the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. I cannot comprehend why any member of our Church would allow these kinds of things to happen. I have been a member of this Church my entire life. I have been a full-time missionary, twice a bishop, a mission president, a Seventy, and now an Apostle. I have never taught—nor have I ever heard taught—a doctrine of exclusion. I have never heard the members of this Church urged to be anything but loving, kind, tolerant, and benevolent to our friends and neighbors of other faiths.”2

Similar counsel has been given by many of our prophets and apostles. I list just a few.

“Too often non-Mormons here in Utah have been offended and alienated by some of our members who will not allow their children to be friends with children of other faiths.  Surely we can teach our children values and standards of behavior without having them distance themselves or show disrespect to any who are different.”  Dallin H. Oaks3  

“We must teach our children to be tolerant and friendly toward those not of our faith. … [W]e can teach our children effectively enough that we need not fear that they will lose their faith while being friendly and considerate with those who do not subscribe to the doctrine of this Church.” Gordon B. Hinckley4

“Many good and honest people of different faiths or of no faith at all are on the Lord’s side in seeking the betterment of their fellowmen and exerting a positive influence on society. … Be grateful for the good that people do everywhere, whether to serve society generally or in behalf of the Church. Always be tolerant and considerate of the views and beliefs of others, recognizing each one as a son or daughter of God.” Joseph B. Wirthlin5 

“We must guard against bigotry that raises its ugly voice toward those who hold different opinions. Bigotry manifests itself, in part, in unwillingness to grant equal freedom of expression. Everyone, including people of religion, has the right to express his or her opinions in the public square. But no one has a license to be hateful toward others as those opinions are expressed. Church history gives ample evidence of our members being treated with hatred and bigotry. How ironically sad it would be if we were to treat others as we have been treated. … Jesus Christ set the example for us to follow—to show respect to all and hatred toward none. As His disciples, let us fully mirror His love and love one another so openly and completely that no one feels abandoned, alone, or hopeless.”  Dale G. Renlund6

“Turn to the Savior to understand how to live a Christlike life while also showing fairness and love to others who do not share your beliefs. … [A]s you … reach out to others in a spirit of fairness, you will feel an increase in the Savior’s love for you and for all of Heavenly Father’s children. Your example of respect and fairness will open doors and create meaningful friendships that you will cherish throughout your life.”  Ronald A. Rasband7 

“I admonish you to be … good neighbors, reaching out to those of other faiths as well as to our own. May we be tolerant of, as well as kind and loving to, those who do not share our beliefs and our standards. The Savior brought to this earth a message of love and goodwill to all men and women. May we ever follow His example.”  Thomas S. Monson8

Speaking to the Parliament of the World’s Religions, Russell M. Nelson said, “Members of our church often join with other like-minded citizens, regardless of religious persuasion, in support of worthy causes and humanitarian projects. This can be done without losing independent identity and strength. … [W]e should be models of tolerance of others whose sacred beliefs may differ from our own. We recognize that if one religion is persecuted, all are attacked.” He also shared with them a statement the First Presidency made several years earlier, “Our message is one of special love and concern for the eternal welfare of all men and women, regardless of religious belief, race, or nationality, knowing that we are truly brothers and sisters because we are the sons and daughters of the same eternal Father.”9

I love that sweet reminder! We are all sons and daughters of the same eternal Father!  

We remember that the Savior taught that “by their fruits ye shall know them.”10 Some only know of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because of its response when a great need arises. The Church is exceptional in tending to the needs of all of God’s children. Recently we have seen that outpouring of love and support for those who have been so severely affected by the hurricanes, other natural disasters and tragedies. Surely the Church’s humanitarian efforts are some of its most recognized “fruits.”  

What if I am the only Latter-day Saint someone knows. What do my “fruits” say about me? Are tolerance and kindness, love and acceptance some of those fruits? While it is true we cannot do anything about other people’s actions and reactions, we have complete control over our own. 

As stated in one of the Articles of Faith, “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”11 President Hinckley reminded us of that when he said, “How very important that is—that while we believe in worshipping God according to our doctrine, we do not become arrogant or self-righteous or prideful but that we extend to others the privilege of worshipping according to their desires.”  

One of my favorite scriptures is, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”12 As we offer love and friendship to all, we are letting our light shine. When we are “a little more tolerant, a little more kind, a little more outreaching to lift and help and sustain those among us,” we are letting our light shine. The Savior’s command to let our light shine is not exclusive to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! We would be wise to recognize the shining light of all good people.

While he was the prophet, President Hinckley was interviewed by Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes on national television. During the interview, he was asked how he viewed non-Mormons. His answer, “With love and respect. I have many non-Mormon friends. I respect them. I have the greatest of admiration for them. … To anybody who is not of this Church, I say we recognize all of the virtues and the good that you have. Bring it with you and see if we might add to it.” Can each of us say the same? I surely hope we can!  May we emulate his example to treat all with love and respect. May we heed his prophetic counsel to “be less prone to stoop to those things which clearly are unbecoming us. We are children of God and we love Him.  Act that way a little more.” Isn’t that really the message of parable of the Good Samaritan? Let us take every opportunity to “go, and do thou likewise.”


  1.  Luke 10:25-37

  2.  Doctrine of Inclusion – M. Russell Ballard

  3.  Loving Others and Living With Differences – Dallin H. Oaks

  4.  Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley – Chapter 20

  5.  The Lord’s Side – Joseph B. Wirthlin

  6.  Our Good Shepherd – Dale G. Renlund

  7.  Religious Freedom and Fairness For All – Ronald A. Rasband

  8.  Until We Meet Again – Thomas S. Monson

  9.  Combatting Spiritual Drift—Our Global Pandemic – Russell M. Nelson

10.  Matthew 7:20

11.  The Articles of Faith 1:11

12.  Matthew 5:16

forgets himself

Losing Ourselves in the Service of Others

The Savior’s life was filled with loving, serving and teaching. During these times, two simple words were an often-repeated request from Him, “follow Me.” But following Him is far from simple. To truly follow Him requires us to look outside of ourselves. It requires us to lose ourselves in the service of others.

Gordon B. Hinckley is an incredible example of someone who truly followed the Savior. At the beginning of Chapter 14, Losing Ourselves in the Service of Others, President Hinckley shares an experience that changed his life. As a young elder, he wrote to his father expressing his discouragement. His father’s response was, “Forget yourself and go to work.” Earlier that morning his scripture study had included the scripture found in Mark 8 which reads, “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.”1 He said, “Those words of the Master, followed by my father’s letter with his counsel to forget myself and go to work, went into my very being. With my father’s letter in hand, I went into our bedroom in the house at 15 Wadham Road, where we lived, and got on my knees and made a pledge with the Lord. I covenanted that I would try to forget myself and lose myself in His service. That July day in 1933 was my day of decision. A new light came into my life and a new joy into my heart.”

So what does Mark 8:35 mean to each of us personally? How can we lose our lives for the Savior’ sake and for His gospel? It is by forgetting ourselves and going to work! It is by following Him. Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “To follow Christ is to become more like Him. It is to learn from His character. As spirit children of our Heavenly Father, we do have the potential to incorporate Christlike attributes into our life and character.”2 May I suggest that it is through Christlike service that we demonstrate Christlike characteristics and make a place in our lives for those characteristics to take root and grow. It is only then, with a Christlike character, we are able to look outside of our own needs and serve others around us. David A. Bednar explains, “Perhaps the greatest indicator of character is the capacity to recognize and appropriately respond to other people who are experiencing the very challenge or adversity that is most immediately and forcefully pressing upon us. Character is revealed, for example, in the power to discern the suffering of other people when we ourselves are suffering. … Thus, character is demonstrated by looking and reaching outward when the natural and instinctive response is to be self-absorbed and turn inward.”3 Elder Bednar shares a powerful example of someone losing herself in the service of others, reaching outward when it would have been instinctive, and very understandable, to turn inward. A faithful single mother, serving as the Relief Society president in his ward, lost her only child in a car accident. “On the day of her daughter’s funeral, this Relief Society president from my home ward received a phone call from an irritated sister in our ward. The complaining sister had a cold and did not feel well, and she basically chewed out the Relief Society president for not being thoughtful or compassionate enough to arrange for meals to be delivered to her home. Just hours before the funeral of her only child, this remarkable Relief Society president prepared and delivered a meal to the murmuring sister.”3

This woman knew the meaning of losing one’s self in the service of others! She had clearly learned the importance of turning her life over to the Savior and to His gospel. Do we understand that He can do that for us too? At the beginning of Chapter 8 in Mark, we read about Jesus twice feeding the multitudes with just a few loaves and fishes. What a great reminder that when we give our all in His service, He will add to it and make it enough! And even more!

I love this quote of President Hinckley’s, “He who forgets himself in the service of others grows and blossoms in this life and in eternity.” To me this means that when we put our own interests and worries aside and serve others as the Savior would, we change and become a different, better person. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have tremendous opportunities to serve. How seriously do we take our callings, no matter what that calling is? If we merely go through the motions, we will never grow and blossom into what our Heavenly Father wants us to become. Nor will we bless others as He wishes them to be blessed. As we render Christlike service, President Hinckley challenges us to, “Get lost in the best cause in the world—the cause of the Lord. The work of the quorums, and of the auxiliary organizations, temple work, welfare service work, missionary work. You will bless your own life as you bless the lives of others. There is no other work in all the world so fraught with happiness as is this work. That happiness is peculiar. It comes of serving others. It is real. It is unique. It is wonderful.”

And it is also miraculous. Neil L. Andersen shared an exchange he had with President Monson while they were traveling on a train in Switzerland. He said, “I asked [President Monson] about his heavy responsibilities. His response strengthened my faith. ‘In the First Presidency, we do everything we can to move this work forward. But this is the Lord’s work, and He directs it. He is at the helm. We marvel as we watch Him open doors we cannot open and perform miracles we can scarcely imagine.'” Elder Andersen then reminded us all, “Seeing and believing the Lord’s miracles in establishing His kingdom on earth can help us see and believe that the Lord’s hand is at work in our own lives as well.”4

Are those miracles reserved for the prophets and apostles? I don’t think so. I believe when we serve our Heavenly Father He will bless us, and those we serve, in miraculous ways. When I think about my own life and the different callings I have had, I can see the Lord’s hand in bringing the right people, at the right time, into my life. And miraculous things have happened! I encourage you to think about your own experiences serving in the Church. I am confident that you will see miracles in your lives as well. Why? Because Heavenly Father knows and loves us individually. He knows not only where, but when and why, we need to serve. We need to show our love to Him by trusting Him.

President Hinckley reminds us, “Serve wherever you are called to serve. Do what you are asked to do. Every position you hold will add to your capacity. This … will require your unselfish devotion, your unyielding loyalty and faith. You will serve in many capacities before your lives are complete. Some of them may seem small, but there is no small or unimportant calling in this Church. Every calling is important. Every calling is necessary to the advancement of the work. Never demean a responsibility in the Church. … The Church may call upon you to make sacrifice. It may call upon you to give of the very best that you have to offer. There will be no cost in this, because you will discover that it will become an investment that will pay you dividends for as long as you live. The Church is the great reservoir of eternal truth. Embrace it and hold fast to it.” Often great sacrifices are required as we lose ourselves in service to others and for the Savior and His gospel. However, willing sacrifices bring great blessings.

Recently Henry B. Eyring taught, “When we walk the path of priesthood service, the Savior Jesus Christ goes with us, for it is His path, His way. His light goes before us, and His angels are round about us.”5 I believe that is true for any Christlike service we render. For when we are in His service, the Savior has promised, “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”6

President Hinckley gives us this challenge, which I pray we will take seriously, “May the real meaning of the gospel distill into our hearts that we may realize that our lives, given us by God our Father, are to be used in the service of others. If we will give such service, our days will be filled with joy and gladness. More important, they will be consecrated to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and to the blessing of all whose lives we touch.”

President Hinckley consecrated his life to the Lord. He touched countless lives, both in and out of the Church. He was such a great blessing to the Church! It is impossible to know the far-reaching influence of his life! He was an apostle for almost 20 years before being called as a counselor to President Spencer W. Kimball. He subsequently served as a counselor for both President Benson and President Hunter. He became the prophet on March 12, 1995. As prophet, he issued “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” He announced a plan to build smaller temples and the creation of the Perpetual Education Fund. During his nearly 13 years as the prophet, he traveled over a million miles. And from June of 1983 until October of 2006, he dedicated or rededicated 92 temples.

For nearly three-quarters of a century, Gordon B. Hinckley was true to the pledge he made to the Lord on that July day in 1933 to forget himself and go to work! My hope is that we will follow his example and be found truly following the Savior.


1. Mark 8:35

2. Christlike Attributes – The Wind Beneath Our Wings – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

3. The Character of Christ – David A. Bednar

4. Thy Kingdom Come – Neil L. Andersen

5. Walk With Me – Henry B. Eyring

6. Doctrine & Covenants 84:88

Home – The Basis For a Righteous Life

Gordon B. Hinckley said, “The more surely you rear your children in the ways of the gospel of Jesus Christ, with love and high expectation, the more likely that there will be peace in their lives.” Chapter 11, Home – The Basis for a Righteous Life, is a loving reminder that teaching and rearing our children in the principles of the gospel is our God-given responsibility. As I studied this lesson, the word peace caught my attention. It truly is in teaching and living the gospel of Jesus Christ that our children will have the greatest chance of finding peace and stability in an ever-changing, commotion-filled world.  Consider these things President Hinckley taught about gospel living and peace:

  • I know of no other practice that will have so salutary an effect upon your lives as will the practice of kneeling together in prayer. … Your daily conversations with him will bring peace into your hearts and a joy into your lives that can come from no other source.
  • [The Lord] expects us to have family home evening—one night a week to gather our children together and teach them the gospel. Isaiah said, “And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord.” That is the commandment: “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord.” And the blessing: “And great,” he said, “shall be the peace of thy children.” (Isa. 54:13)1
  • I urge our people everywhere to read the scriptures more. … May the Lord bless each of us to feast upon his holy word and to draw from it that strength, that peace, that knowledge “which passeth all understanding” (Philip. 4:7), as he has promised.2
  • So lead your sons and daughters, so guide and direct them from the time they are very small, so teach them in the ways of the Lord, that peace will be their companion throughout life.

Russell M. Nelson has said, “No other work transcends that of righteous, intentional parenting!”3 I love the clarity he gives to us that our parenting must be intentional. It takes conscious effort! If we are not careful, other things occupy our time and energy without our even being aware. We’ve been warned often about that.

“When things of the world crowd in, all too often the wrong things take highest priority. Then it is easy to forget the fundamental purpose of life. Satan has a powerful tool to use against good people. It is distraction. He would have good people fill life with ‘good things’ so there is no room for the essential ones. Have you unconsciously been caught in that trap?” Richard G. Scott4

“It is of particular importance in our day, when Satan is raging in the hearts of men in so many new and subtle ways, that our choices and decisions be made carefully, consistent with the goals and objectives by which we profess to live. We need unequivocal commitment to the commandments and strict adherence to sacred covenants. … It is heartbreaking when we profess belief in these goals yet neglect the everyday conduct required to achieve them.” Quentin L. Cook5

“Sad to say, we even wear our busyness as a badge of honor, as though being busy, by itself, was an accomplishment or sign of a superior life. … If we fail to give our best personal self and undivided time to those who are truly important to us, one day we will regret it.” Dieter F. Uchtdorf6

“Sometimes we feel that the busier we are, the more important we are—as though our busyness defines our worth. Brothers and sisters, we can spend a lifetime whirling about at a feverish pace, checking off list after list of things that in the end really don’t matter. That we do a lot may not be so important. That we focus the energy of our minds, our hearts, and our souls on those things of eternal significance—that is essential.” Joseph B. Wirthlin7

“If he could have his way, Satan … would have us become involved in a million and one things in this life—probably none of which are very important in the long run—to keep us from concentrating on the things that are really important, particularly the reality that we are God’s children. He would like us to forget about home and family values. He’d like to keep us so busy with comparatively insignificant things that we don’t have time to make the effort to understand where we came from, whose children we are, and how glorious our ultimate homecoming can be!” Marvin J. Ashton8

We must never forget that both we and our children are children of God! President Hinckley gives us some very wise counsel, “You need heaven’s help in raising heaven’s child—your child, who is also the child of his or her Heavenly Father.” Intentional parenting includes making our family a priority by inviting heaven’s help as we strive to live the gospel together.

Spencer W. Kimball cautioned, “When we kneel in family prayer, our children at our side on their knees are learning habits that will stay with them all through their lives. If we do not take time for prayers, what we are actually saying to our children is, ‘Well, it isn’t very important, anyway. We won’t worry about it. If we can do it conveniently, we will have our prayer, but if the school bell rings and the bus is coming and employment is calling—well, prayer isn’t very important and we will do it when it is convenient.’ Unless planned for, it never seems to be convenient. No mother would carelessly send her little children forth to school on a wintry morning without warm clothes to protect against the snow and rain and cold. But there are numerous fathers and mothers who send their children to school without the protective covering available to them through prayer—a protection against exposure to unknown hazards, evil people, and base temptations. In the past, having family prayer once a day may have been all right. But in the future it will not be enough if we are going to save our families.” (Italics added)9

James E. Faust quoted that last sentence in his general conference talk nearly thirty years ago and then added, “I wonder if having casual and infrequent family home evening will be enough in the future to fortify our children with sufficient moral strength. In the future, infrequent family scripture study may be inadequate to arm our children with the virtue necessary to withstand the moral decay of the environment in which they will live. Where in the world will the children learn chastity, integrity, honesty, and basic human decency if not at home?”10

Surely the “in the future” President Faust spoke of was today! Oh how I wish I could go back to when my children were young and do a better job! And I am sure I am not alone! In fact, I find great comfort in Russell M. Nelson’s words, “Years ago the First Presidency stressed the importance of quality family time. They wrote: ‘We call upon parents to devote their best efforts to the teaching and rearing of their children in gospel principles which will keep them close to the Church. The home is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place or fulfill its essential functions in carrying forward this God-given responsibility. We counsel parents and children to give highest priority to family prayer, family home evening, gospel study and instruction, and wholesome family activities. However worthy and appropriate other demands or activities may be, they must not be permitted to displace the divinely-appointed duties that only parents and families can adequately perform.’ When I ponder this counsel, I almost wish I were a young father once again.”3

So, we do our best and pray for heaven’s help. Still, one of the great heartaches for parents is when children, young and sometimes not so young, seem to abandon what they have been taught. President Hinckley encourages, “Once in a while, notwithstanding all the things you try to do, there is a rebellious child. But keep at it. Do not ever give up. You have never lost as long as you try. Keep at it.”

Jeffrey R. Holland, in his ever-loving, always-encouraging way, teaches, “Some children will make choices that break their parents’ hearts. Moms and dads can do everything right and yet have children who stray. Moral agency still obtains. But even in such painful hours it will be comforting for you to know that your children knew of your abiding faith in Christ, in His true Church, in the keys of the priesthood and in those who hold them. It will be comforting then for you to know that if your children choose to leave the straight and narrow way, they leave it very conscious that their parents were firmly in it. Furthermore, they will be much more likely to return to that path when they come to themselves and recall the loving example and gentle teachings you offered them there. Live the gospel as conspicuously as you can. Keep the covenants your children know you have made. Give priesthood blessings. And bear your testimony! Don’t just assume your children will somehow get the drift of your beliefs on their own. Keep loving and keep testifying. Keep praying. Those prayers will be heard and answered in the most unexpected hour. God will send aid to no one more readily than He will send it to a child—and to the parent of a child.”11

We know that Satan seeks to destroy peace—especially in the family. Prophets and apostles have warned us for many years about these attacks and how we can guard against them. In 1995, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued The Family – A Proclamation to the World. President Hinckley read that proclamation as part of his talk to the women of the Church. He said, “With so much of sophistry that is passed off as truth, with so much of deception concerning standards and values, with so much of allurement and enticement to take on the slow stain of the world, we have felt to warn and forewarn. In furtherance of this we of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles now issue a proclamation to the Church and to the world as a declaration and reaffirmation of standards, doctrines, and practices relative to the family which the prophets, seers, and revelators of this church have repeatedly stated throughout its history.” He then read the family proclamation.  He continued, “We commend to all a careful, thoughtful, and prayerful reading of this proclamation. The strength of any nation is rooted within the walls of its homes. We urge our people everywhere to strengthen their families in conformity with these time-honored values.”12

May we accept President Hinckley’s challenge to prayerfully, carefully and thoughtfully read and study the family proclamation and conform our lives to the values taught in this prophetic proclamation. As we do, we will feel heaven’s help as we are doing the heavenly work of raising God’s children.


  1.  Family Home Evening – Gordon B. Hinckley

  2.  Feasting Upon The Scriptures – Gordon B. Hinckley

  3.  The Sabbath is a Delight – Russell M. Nelson

  4.  First Things First – Richard G. Scott

  5.  Choose Wisely – Quentin L. Cook

  6.  Of Regrets and Resolutions – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

  7.  Follow Me – Joseph B. Wirthlin

  8.  A Yearning For Home – Marvin J. Ashton

  9.  Prayer, The Passport to Spiritual Power – Spencer W. Kimball

10.  The Greatest Challenge in the World—Good Parenting – James E. Faust

11.  A Prayer for the Children – Jeffrey R. Holland

12.  Stand Strong Against the Wiles of the World – Gordon B. Hinckley

Cultivate an Attitude of Happiness & a Spirit of Optimism

In Chapter 3, Cultivating an Attitude of Happiness and a Spirit of Optimism, Gordon B. Hinckley uses two examples to emphasize the importance of learning to have a positive outlook on life.  The first one comes from the scriptures.  The year after Moses had led the children of Israel into the wilderness, he sent one representative from each of the twelve tribes to go into the land of Canaan and then report back on their living conditions.  Caleb and Joshua reported that they found the land to be fruitful, even bringing back some of “the firstripe grapes” as evidence.  The other ten, President Hinckley said, “were victims of their own doubts and fears.”  Their report was negative, acknowledging that the Canaanites were stronger than they were.  In comparing themselves, they became “victims of their own timidity.” Sadly, “the people were more willing to believe the ten doubters than to believe Caleb and Joshua.  Then it was that the Lord declared that the children of Israel should wander in the wilderness forty years until the generation of those who had walked with doubt and fear should pass away.”  The ten doubters died in the wilderness, but Caleb and Joshua were privileged to enter the promised land.

I believe the message President Hinckley wants us to get from this example is that if we are not careful we will miss out on blessings because of doubt and fear.  The Lord will always bless us when our lives are filled with faith and optimism.

The second example comes from a newspaper article which was written by Jenkins Lloyd Jones.  He wrote:

“Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he has been robbed.

“Most putts don’t drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. …

“Life is like an old-time rail journey—delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed.

“The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”

President Hinckley continued, “The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride; and really, isn’t it a wonderful ride? Enjoy it! Laugh about it! Sing about it!”

What a wonderful approach to life!  If we look for the positive, we will surely find it.  It may be a little difficult at times, but there is always something to be grateful for!  Having a grateful heart will bless not only our own life but also the lives of those around us.

President Hinckley warned, “There is a terrible ailment of pessimism in the land.  It’s almost endemic. We’re constantly fed a steady and sour diet of character assassination, faultfinding, evil speaking of one another.” Although he said that 23 years ago, it unfortunately still applies today.  He issued a plea then that we would be wise to accept now.  “I come with a plea that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight.  I’m suggesting that we accentuate the positive.  I’m asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still our voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment virtue and effort, that we speak of one another’s virtues more than we speak of one another’s faults, that optimism replace pessimism.  Let our faith replace our fears.  Cultivate an attitude of happiness. Cultivate a spirit of optimism.  Cultivate a spirit of thanksgiving for the blessing of life and for the marvelous gifts and privileges each of us enjoy.”

The word “cultivate” left a great impression on me.  One of the definitions of cultivate is “to improve or develop by careful attention, training, or study: devote time and thought to.”  Careful attention to our attitude will help us recognize if we are getting caught in the trap of pessimism.  And consciously thinking about and being thankful for our blessings will help us be more grateful.   It will definitely take time, patience and effort to cultivate happiness and optimism, but it will be worth it! 

So how do we cultivate happiness and optimism?  While there are many ways, these three are a great place to start!

Believe in Yourself  – “There is a sad tendency among many of us to belittle ourselves.  Most of us have some feelings of inferiority.  The important thing is not to talk to yourself about it.  The important thing is to make the best of all that we have.  Don’t waste your time feeling sorry for yourself.  Don’t belittle yourself.  Never forget that you are a child of God. You have a divine birthright.  Something of the very nature of God is within you.  … There is no greater truth in all the world than that.  Believe in yourself. Believe in your capacity to do great and good things.  Believe that no mountain is so high that you cannot climb it.  Believe that no storm is so great that you cannot weather it.  You are a child of God, of infinite capacity. Stand a little taller, rise a little higher, be a little better.”  Gordon B. Hinckley

Testimony – “A testimony provides us with a reason for hope and gladness.  It helps us cultivate a spirit of optimism and happiness.”  Dieter F. Uchtdorf1 

“A strong testimony gives peace, comfort, and assurance. It generates the conviction that as the teachings of the Savior are consistently obeyed, life will be beautiful, the future secure, and there will be capacity to overcome the challenges that cross our path.  As you fortify your own personal testimony, you will have power to make correct choices so that you can stand unwaveringly against the pressures of an increasingly vicious world. Your personal security and happiness depend upon the strength of your testimony, for it will guide your actions in times of trial or uncertainty.” Richard G. Scott2

Holy Ghost – “The Holy Ghost blesses us with optimism and wisdom at times of challenge that we simply cannot muster on our own.”  Sheri Dew3  

“The Holy Ghost loves us and wants us to be happy.  Since He knows the challenges we will face, He can guide us and teach us all things we must do to return and live with our Heavenly Father once again. During times of trouble or despair or simply when we need to know that God is near, the Holy Ghost can lift our spirits, give us hope, and teach us ‘the peaceable things of the kingdom,’  helping us feel ‘the peace of God, which passeth all understanding.’”  Craig C. Christensen4 

Knowing I am a daughter of God, my testimony and the Holy Ghost have been sources of happiness and optimism in my life many times.  Without question, the time I felt it most was when my daughter passed away.  My testimony truly sustained me.  It provided me with hope and gladness.  I found great peace, comfort and optimism knowing that because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ I will be with my daughter again.  The Holy Ghost spoke peace to my heart and blessed me with optimism and wisdom which cannot be explained.  Knowing I had a loving Heavenly Father who knew me and knew how I felt made such an incredible difference!  Of course there was grief, but there was no despair or discouragement. 

Life can often be challenging.  Sometimes it is downright difficult!  We all have trials we are expected to endure.  We shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves when we are trying to deal with them.  The problem isn’t our trials.  The problem is when we don’t try to rise above them.  It is important to remember that despair and discouragement are the opposite of hope and optimism.   Howard W. Hunter taught that “despair, doom and discouragement are not an acceptable view of life for a Latter-day Saint.  … There have always been some difficulties in mortal life and there always will be.  But knowing what we know, and living as we are supposed to live, there really is no place, no excuse, for pessimism and despair.  …  I hope you won’t believe … that things have never been worse than they are for you personally, or that they will never get better.  I reassure you that things have been worse and they will always get better. They always do – especially when we live and love the gospel of Jesus Christ and give it a chance to flourish in our lives.” 

Dieter F. Uchtdorf reminds, “The adversary uses despair to bind hearts and minds in suffocating darkness.  Despair drains from us all that is vibrant and joyful and leaves behind the empty remnants of what life was meant to be.  Despair kills ambition, advances sickness, pollutes the soul, and deadens the heart.  Despair can seem like a staircase that leads only and forever downward.  

“Hope, on the other hand, is like the beam of sunlight rising up and above the horizon of our present circumstances.  It pierces the darkness with a brilliant dawn.

“Hope is not knowledge, but rather the abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill His promise to us.  It is confidence that if we live according to God’s laws and the words of His prophets now, we will receive desired blessings in the future.  It is believing and expecting that our prayers will be answered.  It is manifest in confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance.  With hope comes joy and happiness.  With hope, we can have patience, and bear our afflictions.”6 

Life is wonderful!  We have so much to be thankful for.  The blessings of the gospel give us many reasons to be happy and optimistic.

May we accept President Hinckley’s challenge “to square your lives with the teachings of the gospel, to live as an example of what the gospel of Jesus Christ will do in bringing happiness to an individual.  Be happy!  Let that happiness shine through your faces and speak through your testimonies.  In all of living have much of fun and laughter.  Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.”


1.  The Power of a Personal Testimony – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

2.  The Power of a Strong Testimony – Richard G. Scott

3.  We Are Not Alone – Sheri Dew

4.  An Unspeakable Gift from God – Craig C. Christensen

5.  An Anchor to the Souls of Men – Howard W. Hunter

6.  The Infinite Power of Hope – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Teaching the Gospel

President David O. McKay once said, “There is one responsibility which no man can evade and that responsibility is personal influence.”     At the beginning of Chapter 22, Teaching the Gospel, there is a story from the life of Howard W. Hunter which emphasizes this point perfectly.  This is what he shared in April 1972 general conference:

“It was on a summer day early in the morning. I was standing near the window. The curtains obstructed me from two little creatures out on the lawn. One was a large bird and the other a little bird, obviously just out of the nest. I saw the larger bird hop out on the lawn, then thump his feet and cock his head. He drew a big fat worm out of the lawn and came hopping back. The little bird opened its bill wide, but the big bird swallowed the worm.

“Then I saw the big bird fly up into a tree. He pecked at the bark for a little while and came back with a big bug in his mouth. The little bird opened his beak wide, but the big bird swallowed the bug. There was squawking in protest.

“The big bird flew away, and I didn’t see it again, but I watched the little bird. After a while, the little bird hopped out on the lawn, thumped its feet, cocked its head, and pulled a big worm out of the lawn.”

While President Hunter’s remarks were directed at teachers, as is much of the lesson, what this story reminds us is that our examples can have a powerful effect on those who watch us.  I had another thought as well.  For anyone who has flown on an airplane, we are all familiar with the instructions we receive just before takeoff.  We are instructed that if there is a loss of air pressure, an oxygen mask will automatically deploy which will, if secured properly, supply us with the needed oxygen.  If we are travelling with young children, we are instructed to secure our own mask before helping them.  Unless we are spiritually secure, we will not be able to help others.  Only when we are spiritually strong can we be the righteous examples our Heavenly Father wants and needs us to be.

With that perspective in mind, instead of discussing what President Hunter wants students to learn from their teachers, let’s turn the table and make it personal.  There were several specifics President Hunter talked about – developing confidence in the scriptures, having the Spirit, seeking Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, experiencing a change of heart.  Let’s consider them in question form.  For me, this is when the lesson changed. 

  • Do I have confidence in the strength and truths of the scriptures?
  • Do I have confidence that Heavenly Father is really speaking to me through the scriptures?
  • Do I have confidence that I can turn to the scriptures and find answers to my problems and my prayers?
  • Am I doing everything possible to feel the sweet, reassuring presence of the Spirit of the Lord?
  • Am I learning gospel truths and having spiritual experiences?
  • Am I pointed toward God the Father and His Only Begotten Son?
  • Am I pointed toward the leadership of the true Church?
  • Is my testimony strong enough to carry me through when I have to stand alone?
  • Have I experienced a mighty change of heart?

That is quite a list!  Interestingly, my personal study the other day included Alma 5.  There is a very similar list found there!  Some pretty soul-searching questions are asked, starting in verse 14.  Then in verse 35 the Savior gives us an invitation to “come unto me and bring forth works of righteousness.”1 Isn’t that really what President Hunter is asking of us?   He taught, “It is so needful for us to set the proper example, to be diligent and vigilant in our own lives.  Example carries with it an influence much more forceful than precept. He who would persuade others to do right should do right himself.”

In October 2015 LDS General Conference Russell M. Nelson reminded us of something President Spencer W. Kimball said in 1979, “Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world … will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of the Church are seen as distinct and different—in happy ways—from the women of the world.”2  President Nelson then said, “The day that President Kimball foresaw is today.  You are the women he foresaw!”  He then gave us quite an impressive list of things that will be needed from the women of the Church:

“We need women who know how to make important things happen by their faith and who are courageous defenders of morality and families in a sin-sick world. We need women who are devoted to shepherding God’s children along the covenant path toward exaltation; women who know how to receive personal revelation, who understand the power and peace of the temple endowment; women who know how to call upon the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen children and families; women who teach fearlessly.

“We need women who have a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and who will use that understanding to teach and help raise a sin-resistant generation.  We need women who can detect deception in all of its forms. We need women who know how to access the power that God makes available to covenant keepers and who express their beliefs with confidence and charity. We need women who have the courage and vision of our Mother Eve.

“Nothing is more crucial to your eternal life than your own conversion. It is converted, covenant-keeping women whose righteous lives will increasingly stand out in a deteriorating world and who will thus be seen as different and distinct in the happiest of ways.”3  

Let’s go back to the questions above.  As we honestly answer these questions and consider where we can improve, we can become the women President Nelson reminds us are needed today.   The cause of righteousness is moving forward, with or without us.  I don’t know why we wouldn’t do everything possible to be part of that great cause!  Ours is the great privilege to teach the gospel, sometimes with our words and always with our actions.

In the lesson, President Hunter pleads with us to “labor unceasingly in righteousness and holiness before the Lord.”  When prophets and apostles plead with us, we should do all in our power to listen and heed.   We are always blessed when we do!  So I conclude with a tender pleading and powerful promise from Russell M. Nelson:

“So today I plead with my sisters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to step forward! Take your rightful and needful place in your home, in your community, and in the kingdom of God—more than you ever have before. I plead with you to fulfill President Kimball’s prophecy. And I promise you in the name of Jesus Christ that as you do so, the Holy Ghost will magnify your influence in an unprecedented way!”3


1.  Alma Chapter 5 – Book of Mormon

2.  The Role of Righteous Women – Spencer W. Kimball

3.  A Plea to My Sisters – Russell M. Nelson

Walking the Savior’s Path of Charity

In Chapter 20, Walking the Savior’s Path of Charity, Howard W. Hunter said, “The Savior has commanded us to love one another as he has loved us; to clothe ourselves ‘with the bond of charity.’  We are called upon to purify our inner feelings, to change our hearts, to make our outward actions and appearances conform to what we say we believe and feel inside.”

In Moroni 7:45 we read, “And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”  I especially love the pleadings and promises that follow in verses 46 and 47.  “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail— But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.”

In the lesson, President Hunter suggests that the Lord has a way of measuring the purity of our commitment and dedication much like a goldsmith, in ancient times, had a way of measuring the purity of gold.  A goldsmith used a touchstone which, when rubbed across gold, produced a mark that could be matched to a color chart to quickly and quite accurately determine the quality of the gold.  President Hunter said that one of the ways the Lord will measure our devotion to Him is by how well we love and serve our fellowmen.  He then uses the account of the young lawyer’s interaction with the Savior to teach us an incredibly valuable lesson. 

The young lawyer asks the Savior what he needs to do to inherit eternal life.  The Savior answered this question with a question of His own, “What is written in the law? how readest thou?”  This young man had been taught well.  He knew all the right answers to give.  He said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.”  “Thou has answered right:” said the Savior, “this do, and thou shalt live.”  But the young man’s questioning of “Who is my neighbor?” reveals something about his heart.  And the Savior’s answer reveals what is expected of us if we want to be His true disciples.  It was in response to that question that the Savior taught the parable of the good Samaritan.  President Hunter said, “We all ought to be eternally grateful for that question, for in the Savior’s reply came one of his richest and most appreciated parables, one that each of us has read and heard over and over again.” 

I love Marion D. Hanks’ insight on this parable.  “Out of this powerful story known to all of you—this story of a traveler from Jerusalem to Jericho who was set upon, robbed, wounded, and left at the wayside by thieves—comes a basis for understanding who is the neighbor we are commanded to love and what our own status is as a neighbor to those in need.  You will remember that involved in the story were a priest (church leader or teacher) and a Levite (one of the tribe assigned to temple service). Both of them ‘passed by on the other side,’ neither stopping to help. Both were preoccupied or too busy with important assignments. Or both were too unimpressed, perhaps, with the ‘weightier matters’ of which Christ spoke. Christ joined mercy with just judgment and faith as the ‘weightier matters’ with which we should be concerned, and in this parable he defined mercy for us as the care and concern shown by the Samaritan who did not pass by on the other side but stopped to give immediate and sustained assistance.  Jesus then said to the questioner and to us, ‘Go, and do thou likewise.” Loving neighbor, mercy, giving, service, caring, sacrifice—all are brought together in one compelling, understandable, and personally applicable example.”1   

Do we ever find ourselves too busy with important assignments that we are either overwhelmed or blind to the needs of others?  The ones who should have seen the great need did not.  It was the one who could have easily been justified in ignoring the injured man who tended to his every need. 

As I was thinking about the parable of the good Samaritan and President Hunter’s analogy of the touchstone, the scripture from 1 Samuel 16:7 came to mind – “The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”  The touchstone the Lord uses measures the purity of our hearts.   We have often heard of a very generous and charitable person described as one who has a heart of gold.  Oh how we ought to work on having a heart of gold – a heart full of love, tenderness, compassion and charity!  President Hunter said, “The touchstone of compassion is a measure of our discipleship; it is a measure of our love for God and for one another.” 

Sometimes our outward actions accurately reflect our inward devotion, as was the case of the Samaritan.  Sometimes they do not, as in the case of the young lawyer.  We live in a world where things aren’t always as they appear.  If we are not careful, we can be fooled.  A beautiful stone can be made to look like a real diamond.  Some people are very lonely while appearing to have many “friends” on social media.  One can even go through the motions of praying, reading scriptures and attending church without truly being converted.  If we are not careful, we can even fool ourselves into thinking we are doing better than we are.  Even in a world so easily deceived, the Lord’s touchstone will always accurately reflect the purity of our heart.  The purity of our heart is imperative!

Another great lesson we learn from the parable of the good Samaritan is that we will all, at one time or another, have hard times.  Whether we are the one who is being loved and cared for or the one giving the love and tender care, we need to have a heart full of charity.  Christlike love is best learned by studying and living the gospel of Jesus Christ.  President Hunter gives this wise counsel:   “The world in which we live needs the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It provides the only way the world will ever know peace. We need to be kinder with one another, more gentle and forgiving. We need to be slower to anger and more prompt to help. We need to extend the hand of friendship and resist the hand of retribution. In short, we need to love one another with the pure love of Christ, with genuine charity and compassion and, if necessary, shared suffering, for that is the way God loves us.  We need to walk more resolutely and more charitably the path that Jesus has shown.”

The greatest hope we have in this life comes in and through the Savior, Jesus Christ.  Jeffrey R. Holland  so powerfully reminds us, “Life has its share of some fear and some failure. Sometimes things fall short, don’t quite measure up. Sometimes in both personal and public life, we are seemingly left without strength to go on. Sometimes people fail us, or economies and circumstance fail us, and life with its hardship and heartache can leave us feeling very alone.  But when such difficult moments come to us, I testify that there is one thing which will never, ever fail us. One thing alone will stand the test of all time, of all tribulation, all trouble, and all transgression. One thing only never faileth—and that is the pure love of Christ. Only the pure love of Christ will see us through. It is Christ’s love which suffereth long, and is kind. It is Christ’s love which is not puffed up nor easily provoked. Only his pure love enables him—and us—to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things.  His pure love never fails us. Not now. Not ever. Not ever.”2 

Is it any wonder that some of the last words in the Book of Mormon teach us about that pure love? May we heed Moroni’s plea to cleave unto charity and “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure.”3


1.  The Great Commandments – Marion D. Hanks

2.  He Loved Them Unto the End – Jeffrey R. Holland

3.  Moroni 7:45-48