The Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ is the heart and core and center of revealed religion.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie Christ and the Creation

November 14, 2017

Humility, Mother Teresa

Comments Off on If You Are Humble Nothing Will Touch You

If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.

Mother Teresa

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November 6, 2017

General Authorities, General Conference, Humility, Maxwell, Meekness, Repentance

Comments Off on Pride prefers cheap repentance, paid for with shallow sorrow

In this rigorous process [of repentance], so much clearly depends upon meekness. Pride keeps repentance from even starting or continuing. Some fail because they are more concerned with the preservation of their public image than with having Christ’s image in their countenances! (Alma 5:14.) Pride prefers cheap repentance, paid for with shallow sorrow. Unsurprisingly, seekers after cheap repentance also search for superficial forgiveness instead of real reconciliation. Thus, real repentance goes far beyond simply saying, “I’m sorry.”

In the anguishing process of repentance, we may sometimes feel God has deserted us. The reality is that our behavior has isolated us from Him. Thus, while we are turning away from evil but have not yet turned fully to God, we are especially vulnerable. Yet we must not give up, but, instead, reach out to God’s awaiting arm of mercy, which is outstretched “all the day long.” (Jacob 5:47; Jacob 6:4; 2 Ne. 28:32; Morm. 5:11.) Unlike us, God has no restrictive office hours.

No part of walking by faith is more difficult than walking the road of repentance. However, with “faith unto repentance,” we can push roadblocks out of the way, moving forward to beg God for mercy. (Alma 34:16.) True contrition brings full capitulation. One simply surrenders, caring only about what God thinks, not what “they” think, while meekly offering, “O God, … make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee.” (Alma 22:18.) Giving away all our sins is the only way we can come to know God.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell
Repentance, General Conference, October, 1991

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November 5, 2017

Eyring, General Authorities, General Conference, Humility, King Benjamin

Comments Off on Eyring – Allowing the Atonement to Change Us into What We Must Be

King Benjamin, who understood as well as any mortal what it meant to be a man of strength and courage, makes it clear that to be like a child is not to be childish. It is to be like the Savior, who prayed to His Father for strength to be able to do His will and then did it. Our natures must be changed to become as a child to gain the strength we must have to be safe in the times of moral peril.

Here is King Benjamin’s stirring description of what that change to become like a child is and how it comes to us:

“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” 6

We are safe on the rock which is the Savior when we have yielded in faith in Him, have responded to the Holy Spirit’s direction to keep the commandments long enough and faithfully enough that the power of the Atonement has changed our hearts. When we have, by that experience, become as a child in our capacity to love and obey, we are on the sure foundation.

From King Benjamin we learn what we can do to take us to that safe place. But remember: the things we do are the means, not the end we seek. What we do allows the Atonement of Jesus Christ to change us into what we must be. Our faith in Jesus Christ brings us to repentance and to keeping His commandments. We obey and we resist temptation by following the promptings of the Holy Ghost. In time our natures will change. We will become as a little child, obedient to God and more loving. That change, if we do all we must to keep it, will qualify us to enjoy the gifts which come through the Holy Ghost. Then we will be safe on the only sure rock.

President Henry B. Eyring

As a Child,” Ensign, May 2006, 14–17

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November 2, 2017

General Authorities, General Conference, Gethsemane, Humility, Maxwell

Comments Off on Willing to Submit

Spiritual submissiveness is so much more than bended knee or bowed head. Alas, insofar as we “mind the things of the flesh” (Rom. 8:5), we simply cannot have the “mind of Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:16.)

Jesus laid down this sobering requirement: “Except ye … become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18:3.)

One of Jesus’ prophets delineated—with submissiveness thrice stipulated—how a disciple can become “as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” (Mosiah 3:19.)

. . . .

Later, in Gethsemane, the suffering Jesus began to be “sore amazed” (Mark 14:33), or, in the Greek, “awestruck” and “astonished.”

Imagine, Jehovah, the Creator of this and other worlds, “astonished”! Jesus knew cognitively what He must do, but not experientially. He had never personally known the exquisite and exacting process of an atonement before. Thus, when the agony came in its fulness, it was so much, much worse than even He with his unique intellect had ever imagined! No wonder an angel appeared to strengthen him! (See Luke 22:43.)

The cumulative weight of all mortal sins—past, present, and future—pressed upon that perfect, sinless, and sensitive Soul! All our infirmities and sicknesses were somehow, too, a part of the awful arithmetic of the Atonement. (See Alma 7:11–12; Isa. 53:3–5; Matt. 8:17.) The anguished Jesus not only pled with the Father that the hour and cup might pass from Him, but with this relevant citation. “And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me.” (Mark 14:35–36.)

. . . .

Even so, Jesus maintained this sublime submissiveness, as He had in Gethsemane: “Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matt. 26:39.)

While bearing our sins, our infirmities, our sicknesses, and bringing to pass the Atonement (see Alma 7:11–12), Jesus became the perfect Shepherd, making these lines of Paul’s especially relevant and reassuring: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Rom. 8:35.)

 

Elder Neal A. Maxwell
Willing to Submit, Ensign, May, 1985

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November 1, 2017

C.S. Lewis, Humility

Comments Off on Work Becomes Spiritual When It Is Offered to God

I reject at once an idea which lingers in the mind of some modern people that cultural activities are in their own right spiritual and meritorious – as though scholars and poets were intrinsically more pleasing to God than scavengers and bootblacks. . . .

The work of a Beethoven and the work of a charwoman become spiritual on precisely the same condition, that of being offered to God, of being done humbly ‘as to the Lord.’ This does not, of course, mean that it is for anyone a mere toss-up whether he should sweep rooms or compose symphonies. A mole must dig to the glory of God and a cock must crow. We are members of one body, but differentiated members, each with his own vocation.

C.S. Lewis
Weight of Glory, page 55

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October 21, 2017

General Authorities, Humility, Maxwell, Pride, Tests

Comments Off on Eight Traps of Mortality

I should like to suggest some traps into which we can fall, if we are not careful, as we try to meet the challenges that life delivers at our doorsteps. The first temptation that we must resist, brothers and sisters, is the Jonah response, in which we sometimes think we can escape the calls that come to us, that we can somehow run away from the realities that will press in upon us. Jonah, you recall, had been called to go to Nineveh. He didn’t want to go to that urban center that was so big. We are told it took the people hours to walk across that city. He tried to find a ship going to Tarshish. He “paid the fare thereof,” hoping to leave the presence of the Lord. You and I will one day know, if we do not know now, there is no way we can escape from God’s love, because it is infinite. However many times in our lives we might rather go to a Tarshish than a Nineveh, he will insist that we go to Nineveh, and we must pay “the fare thereof.” . . .

second trap into which we can fall is the naïveté that grows out of our not realizing that the adversary will press particularly in the areas of our vulnerabilities. It ought not to surprise us that this will be so. The things that we would most like to avoid, therefore, will often be the things that confront us most directly and most sharply. Some of you may recall that the British military planners who built the fortress of Singapore, which was supposed to be invincible, fixed the guns of Singapore so that they would fire only seaward. The Japanese very cleverly came from behind on land. Churchill and others were stunned that this citadel and fortress had fallen so quietly and so simply. Some of us have guns that fire only in one direction. We are vulnerable, and our vulnerabilities will be probed by the vicissitudes of life. One of the great advantages of life in the Church (in which the gospel is at the center) is that we can overcome these vulnerabilities; otherwise, we shall be taken by surprise and swiftly.

A third trap into which we can fall, if we are not careful, is to fail to notice that at the center of many of our challenges is pride, is ego. In most emotional escalations with which I am familiar, if one goes to the very center of them, there is ego asserting itself relentlessly. The only cure for rampant ego is humility, and this is why circumstances often bring to us a kind of compelled or forced humility–so that we may recover our equilibrium. Humility can help us to dampen our pride. Ironically, for those of us who most need to serve to develop our capacity to love, our very egos often make us unapproachable so far as others are concerned. We, therefore, are underused and we wonder why. And this is typical of the trials that we impose upon ourselves.

fourth trap into which we can fall is that we may at times assume that the plan of salvation requires merely that we endure and survive when, in fact, as is always the case with the gospel of Jesus Christ, it is required of us, not only that we endure, but also that we endure well, that we exhibit “grace under pressure.” This is necessary, not only so that our own passage through the trial can be a growth experience, but also because (more than we know) there are always people watching to see if we can cope, who therefore may resolve to venture forth and to cope themselves. Every time we navigate safely on the strait and narrow way, there are other ships that are lost which can find their way because of our steady light.

fifth trap, and a major one, is the trap of self-pity. One man has said that “hell is being frozen in self-pity.” Indeed, at times when we think our lot is hard or when we feel our selves misunderstood, it will be so easy for us to indulge ourselves in feeling some self-pity. A contrasting episode comes to us out of ancient Greece: Several hundred Spartans were holding the pass at Thermopylae, that narrow pass, and the Persians came in overwhelming numbers and urged the Spartans to surrender. Hoping to intimidate them further, the Persians sent emissaries to the Spartans, saying they had so many archers in their army they could darken the sky with their arrows. The Spartans said, “So much the better. We shall fight in the shade.”

sixth trap into which we can fall quite easily, brothers and sisters, is the trap in which we sense that something special is happening in our lives but are not able to sort it out with sufficient precision and clarity that we can articulate it to someone else. That is so often true of the gospel. Its truths are too powerful for us to manage on occasion. Let me give you this simple illustration of how we can know something and yet not be able to communicate it fully without the help of the Spirit. If I were to bring one of you into this hall and if, instead of all of you, it were filled with fifteen thousand mothers and if I were to say to you, “Somewhere in that audience is your mother; find her,” you could do it, and I suspect it wouldn’t take you very many minutes. But if I said to you, “Wait outside. There are fifteen thousand mothers in there and one of them is your mother. Now, you describe her to me with sufficient precision and clarity so that I can go find her,” you couldn’t do it. You would still know what she looked like, but tongue could not transmit what you knew. It is that way often with the gospel. That is why we are so in need of the Spirit–so that knowledge can arc like electricity from point to point, aided and impelled by the Spirit–aid without which we are simply not articulate enough to speak of all the things which we know.

seventh trap, brothers and sisters, is that some of us neglect to develop multiple forces of satisfaction. When one of the wells upon which we draw dries up through death, loss or status, disaffection, or physical ailment, we then find ourselves very thirsty because, instead of having multiple sources of satisfaction in our lives, we have become too dependent upon this or upon that. How important it is to the symmetry of our souls that we interact with all the gospel principles and with all the Church programs, so that we do not become so highly specialized that, if we are deprived of one source of satisfaction, indeed we are in difficulty. It is possible to be incarcerated within the prison of one principle. We are less vulnerable if our involvements with the kingdom are across the board. We are less vulnerable if we care deeply about many principles–not simply a few.

An eighth trap to be avoided, brothers and sisters, is the tendency we have–rather humanly, rather understandably–to get ourselves caught in peering through the prism of the present and then distorting our perspective about things. Time is of this world; it is not of eternity. We can, if we are not careful, feel the pressures of time and see things in a distorted way. How important it is that we see things as much as possible through the lens of the gospel with its eternal perspectives. . . .

Now, brothers and sisters, may I prepare to close with these thoughts: The Church is fully Christ-centered. The Church is also Christ-powered, and it is also designed to help its members become more Christlike. Since the gospel of Jesus Christ focuses on the truths that deal with everlasting things and not on obsolescent realities, it is very important for us, brothers and sisters, to recognize that the truths in which we traffic as members of the kingdom pertain to eternity as well as to this life.

I am surprised (I would be amused if the cost were not so great) that people think they can remove the foundations of our social structure–things like work, chastity, and family and then wonder why other things crumble. You can’t remove the foundation of a building while standing inside and not be hit with falling plaster. We are now in the interesting position in the kingdom of trying to warn about what is happening in the world and, at the same time, of keeping ourselves personally secure. We must be Christ-centered individually. We must have his and God’s power to do our work, and we must take seriously the challenge of becoming more Christlike. You’re soon going to go out into a world full of marshmallow men. Like the act of putting a finger into a marshmallow, there is no core in these men, there is no center, and when one removes his finger, the marshmallow resumes its former shape. We are in a world of people who want to yield to everything–to every fad and to every fashion. It is incredibly important that we be committed to the core–committed to those things that matter, about which our Father in heaven has leveled with us through his Son, Jesus Christ, and his prophets.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell

But for a Small Moment

Later a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Maxwell was an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles when this fireside address was given at Brigham Young University on 1 September 1974

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September 30, 2017

Alma, General Authorities, Humility, Kimball, Repentance

Comments Off on Repentance is not repetition of sin. It is not laughing at sin. It is not justification for sin.

Sometimes it is easier to define what something is by telling what it is not.

Repentance is not repetition of sin. It is not laughing at sin. It is not justification for sin. Repentance is not the hardening of the spiritual arteries. It is not the minimizing of the seriousness of the error. Repentance is not retirement from activity. It is not the closeting of sin to corrode and overburden the sinner.

. . . .

Remorse and deep sorrow then are preliminary to repentance.

There must not be rationalization to cover and hide. Alma, the great authority on this subject, we quote again:

“… Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sins, by denying the justice of God; but do let the justice of God, and his mercy, and his long-suffering have full sway in your heart; and let it bring you down to the dust in humility.” (Alma 42:30. Italics added.)

This is important: do let yourself be troubled; let the tears flow; let your heart be chastened. Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sin. Let the justice of God have full sway in your heart so that it will bring you to the dust in humility.

. . . .

Rationalizing is the enemy to repentance. Someone has said, “Rationalizing is the bringing of ideals down to the level of one’s conduct while repentance is the bringing of one’s conduct up to the level of his ideals.”

. . . .

Sin has size and dimensions. There are greater and lesser ones. Someone has said, “Conscience is a celestial spark that God has put into every man for the purpose of saving his soul.” It awakens the soul to consciousness of sin; it stimulates him to want to do better, to make adjustments, and to accept the sin in its full weight and size, to be willing to face facts and meet issues and pay penalties.

President Spencer W. Kimball
What Is True Repentance?“, New Era, May 1974, 4

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When spiritually aligned, a poise can come, even when we do not know “the meaning of all things” (1 Ne. 11:17). Such contented assurance produces not arrogance but quiet acceptance, which is its own form of being “anxiously engaged” but without all the bells and whistles (D&C 58:27; see also D&C 58:28).

However, this spiritual contentment rests on our accepting the Atonement of Jesus, because we “have come to a knowledge of the goodness of God, and his matchless power, and his wisdom, and his patience, and his long-suffering towards the children of men; and also, the atonement which has been prepared from the foundation of the world” (Mosiah 4:6).

Elder Neal A. Maxwell

Content with the Things Allotted unto Us,” Ensign, May 2000, 72

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September 20, 2017

Faith, General Authorities, General Conference, Humility, Scott

Comments Off on A righteous life produces an inner power and strength that can be resistant to the influence of sin and transgression

Material things do not of themselves produce happiness and satisfaction and the joy of attainment on earth. Nor do they lead us to exaltation. It is nobility of character, that fabric of inner strength and conviction woven from countless righteous decisions, that gives life its direction. A consistent, righteous life produces an inner power and strength that can be permanently resistant to the eroding influence of sin and transgression. Your faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to His commandments will strengthen your character. Your character is a measure of what you are becoming. It is the evidence of how well you are using your time on earth in this period of mortal probation.

An axiom we all understand is that you get what you pay for. That is true for spiritual matters as well. You get what you pay for in obedience, in faith in Jesus Christ, in diligent application of the truths you learn. What you get is the molding of character, the growth in capacity, and the successful completion of your mortal purpose to be proven and to have joy.

You cannot be passive in life, or in time the natural man will undermine your efforts to live worthily. You become what you do and what you think about. Lack of character leads one under pressure to satisfy appetite or seek personal gain. You cannot successfully bolster a weak character with the cloak of pretense.

. . . .

Humility is that quality that permits us to be taught from on high through the Spirit or to be taught from sources whose origin was inspiration from the Lord, such as the scriptures and the comments of the prophets. Humility is the precious fertile soil of righteous character. In it the seeds of personal growth germinate. When cultivated through the exercise of faith, pruned by repentance, and fortified by obedience and good works, such seeds produce the cherished fruit of spiritual direction. Divine inspiration and power then result—inspiration to know the will of the Lord, power to provide the ability to accomplish that inspired will.

Elder Richard G. Scott
The Transforming Power of Faith and Character

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August 30, 2017

Christofferson, General Authorities, General Conference, Humility, Obedience

Comments Off on The Gospel Cannot be Written in Your Heart Unless Your Heart is Open

The gospel cannot be written in your heart unless your heart is open. . . .

As a first step, you must lay aside any feeling of pride that is so common in the world today. By this I mean the attitude that rejects the authority of God to rule in our lives. . . .

Further, for the gospel to be written in your heart, you need to know what it is and grow to understand it more fully. That means you will study it. . . .

You must not only open your heart to a knowledge of the gospel and the love of God, you must practice the gospel law. You cannot fully understand or appreciate it unless you personally apply it in your life.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson

When Thou Art Converted,” Ensign, May 2004, 11

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