President Young observed that real faith requires faith in the Savior’s character, in His Atonement, and in the plan of salvation (in Journal of Discourses, 13:56). The Savior’s character necessarily underwrote His remarkable Atonement. Without His sublime character there could have been no sublime Atonement! His character is such that He went forth “suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind” (Alma 7:11), yet He gave temptations “no heed” (D&C 20:22).
C. S. Lewis has said that only those who resist temptation really understand the power of temptation. Because Jesus resisted it perfectly, He understood temptation perfectly; hence He can help us. (See Mere Christianity , 124–25.) The fact that He was dismissive of temptation and gave it “no heed” reveals His marvelous character, which we are to emulate (see 3 Ne. 12:48; 3 Ne. 27:27).
Jesus Christ, who by far suffered the most, has the most compassion—for all of us who suffer so much less. Moreover, He who suffered the most has no self-pity! Even as He endured the enormous suffering associated with the Atonement, He reached out to others in their much lesser suffering. Consider how, in Gethsemane, Jesus, who had just bled at every pore, nevertheless restored an assailant’s severed ear which, given Jesus’ own agony, He might not have noticed! (see Luke 22:50–51).
Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “Enduring Well,” Liahona, Apr 1999, 10
Yet another passage from Neal A. Maxwell’s incredible talk at the 2002 Womens Conference:
“So profound and comprehensive is Christ’s love that even during His infinite suffering, He still noticed and nurtured finite sufferers who endured so much less anguish than He had to bear. For instance, He noticed and restored an assailant’s severed ear in the Garden of Gethsemane. On the cross, He directed John to take care of His mother, Mary. He comforted a thief on a nearby cross.
“In contrast, when you and I let ourselves get stuck in the ooze of our own self-pity, we fail to notice the needs of others. With a little more effort, we can become a little more noticing and a little more nurturing. Let us reflect on our circles of love. Are they increasing in size, or are they static? What is the quality of our caring for those within those circles? Do we avoid lazy stereotyping? It’s so easy to deal with people as functions and stereotypes instead of as individuals. Are we lovingly patient with others who are also striving to develop? Or do we, judgmentally and impatiently, constantly pull up the daisies to see how their roots are doing?”
This last line is a lot like C. S. Lewis’ comment about eggs.
“[God] has infinite attention to spare for each one of us. He does not have to deal with us in the mass. You are as much alone with Him as if you were the only being He had ever created. When Christ died, He died for you individually just as much as if you had been the only man [or woman] in the world”
C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity , 131
“Take care. It is so easy to break eggs without making omelettes.”
C. S. Lewis in “Letters to Malcolm”
Here are three quotes about giving ourselves to God, and receiving in return His blessings.
“If you give anything for the building up of the Kingdom of God, give the best you have. What is the best thing you have to devote to the Kingdom of God? It is the talents God has given you. … Let us devote every qualification we are in possession of to the building up of God’s kingdom, and you will accomplish the whole of it.”
Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, 445.
“Yes, men and women who turn their lives over to God will find out that he can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace. Whoever will lose his life to God will find he has eternal life….
“Give God your best, and his best will come back to you.”
Ezra Taft Benson, “Jesus Christ–Gifts and Expectations,” BYU Devotional, 10 December 1974
“Christ says, ‘Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there. I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop I, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked – the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.'”
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 167.
C. S. Lewis wrote about the cumulative effect our choices have upon us, “the mark which the action leaves on that tiny central self which no one sees in this life but which each of us will have to endure–or enjoy-for ever.” The end result of those choices is worth our constant consideration:
every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.
C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book III, Chapter 4: Morality and Psychoanalysis.
Taking on the nature of Christ is a truly difficult task. Perhaps no better description of this is found in scripture than in Mosiah 3:19. C. S. Lewis also acknowledged this challenge when he wrote:
“…The real problem with the Christian life comes….the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.”
“We can only do it for moments at first. But from those moments the new sort of life will be spreading through our system: because now we are letting Him work at the right part of us. It is the difference between paint, which is merely laid on the surface, and a dye or stain which soaks right through….When he said, ‘Be perfect,’ He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treatment.” (Mere Christianity, pp. 168-69.)
If not careful, we can become overwhelmed by Christ’s invitation to be perfect. Of our need to guard against such, Elder Neal A. Maxwell wrote: