The call of duty came to the boy Nephi when he was instructed by the Lord, through his father Lehi, to return to Jerusalem with his brothers to obtain the brass plates from Laban. Nephi’s brothers murmured, saying it was a hard thing which had been asked of them. What was Nephi’s response? Said he, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”
When that same call comes to you and to me, what will be our response? Will we murmur, as did Laman and Lemuel, and say, “This is a hard thing required of us”? Or will we, with Nephi, individually declare, “I will go. I will do”? Will we be willing to serve and to obey?
At times the wisdom of God appears as being foolish or just too difficult, but one of the greatest and most valuable lessons we can learn in mortality is that when God speaks and a man obeys, that man will always be right.
Thomas S. Monson, “Willing and Worthy to Serve,” General Conference, April 2012
. . . he who would learn to command well must, as men say, first of all learn to obey.
Aristotle, Politics, Book 7, XIV
Paul taught the Corinthians that while we “walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh.” The war we have is against “imaginations, and every thigh thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Commenting on this passage, Mathew Henry (1662-1714) wrote of the opposition that is made “against the gospel by the powers of sin and Satan in the hearts of men.”
Ignorance, prejudices, beloved lusts, are Satan’s strong-holds in the souls of some; vain imaginations, carnal reasonings, and high thoughts, or proud conceits, in others, exalt themselves against the knowledge of God, that is, by these ways the devil endeavours to keep men from faith and obedience to the gospel, and secures his possession of the hearts of men, as his own house or property. (Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible, 2 Cor. IX)
How do we gain power over these vain imaginations, these reasonings disconnected from the mind of God, this prideful conceit? Paul’s counsel to the Corinthians was to “[bring] into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). The Lord Himself said to Joseph Smith, “Look unto me in every thought” (Doctrine and Covenants 6:36). No wonder in partaking of the sacrament we covenant to always remember Him.
David O. McKay said, “That man is most truly great who is most Christlike. What you sincerely in your heart think of Christ will determine what you are, will largely determine what your acts will be. … By choosing him as our ideal, we create within ourselves a desire to be like him, to have fellowship with him” (Conference Report, Apr. 1951, 93, 98).
In October of 1997, Elder Neal A. Maxwell visited the campus of Brigham Young University–Idaho to speak in a devotional. During the day he was on the campus, we talked together about a variety of gospel topics in general and about the youth of the Church in particular. I remember Elder Maxwell making a statement that greatly impressed me. He said, “The youth of this generation have a greater capacity for obedience than any previous generation.”
He then indicated that his statement was based upon a truth taught by President George Q. Cannon: “God has reserved spirits for this dispensation who have the courage and determination to face the world, and all the powers of the evil one, visible and invisible, to proclaim the Gospel, and maintain the truth, and establish and build up the Zion of our God, fearless of all consequences. He has sent these spirits in this generation to lay the foundation of Zion never more to be overthrown, and to raise up a seed that will be righteous, and that will honor God, and honor him supremely, and be obedient to him under all circumstances.”
Elder David A. Bednar, “Things as They Really Are,” CES Fireside, May 3, 2009
We will end up either choosing Christ’s manner of living or His manner of suffering! It is either “suffer even as I” (D&C 19:16–17), or overcome “even as [He] … overcame” (Rev. 3:21). His beckoning command is to become “even as I am” (3 Ne. 27:27). The spiritually settled accept that invitation, and “through the atonement of Christ,” they become and overcome! (see Mosiah 3:18, 19).
Neal A. Maxwell, “‘Overcome … Even As I Also Overcame’,” Ensign, May 1987, 70
The great test of life is to see whether we will hearken to and obey God’s commands in the midst of the storms of life. It is not to endure storms, but to choose the right while they rage. And the tragedy of life is to fail in that test and so fail to qualify to return in glory to our heavenly home.
Henry B. Eyring, “Spiritual Preparedness: Start Early and Be Steady,” Ensign, Nov 2005, 37 (emphasis added)
The Apostle Paul taught that the Lord’s teachings and teachers were given that we may all attain “the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). This process requires far more than acquiring knowledge. It is not even enough for us to be convinced of the gospel; we must act and think so that we are converted by it. In contrast to the institutions of the world, which teach us to know something, the gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to become something.
Many Bible and modern scriptures speak of a final judgment at which all persons will be rewarded according to their deeds or works or the desires of their hearts. But other scriptures enlarge upon this by referring to our being judged by the condition we have achieved.
Dallin H. Oaks, “The Challenge to Become,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 32