Giving “diligent heed” with hearts that are open

Alma, chapter 12, verses 9-11 make it clear that our knowledge and understanding of God’s word and His mysteries will be commensurate with the “heed and diligence” we give to Him and His word:

And therefore, he that will harden his heart,

the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word;

and he that will not harden his heart,

to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.

And they that will harden their hearts,

to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.

In the 84th section of the Doctrine and Covenants,verses 43-44, the Lord gives us “a commandment to beware concerning yourselves, to give diligent heed (there are Alma’s words – heed and diligence) to the words of eternal life. For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.” Alma’s statement above makes it clear that diligent heed to God’s word is what allows us to understand His mysteries, and that that understanding is dependent upon an open and a humble heart.

In 1 Nephi 16:28 we learn that the Liahona “. . . did work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we did give unto them.”

When the Savior visited the Nephites, he prayed with them. The scriptures record that His words were so great they could neither be written or spoken by man. But the hearts of the people “were open and they did understand in their hearts the words which he prayed (3 Nephi 19:33). Knowing the mysteries of God will likely be the same for each of us. We will know more than we can tell.

As the apostle Paul wrote, the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolisness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor 2:14).

Elder Neal A. Maxwell wrote:

“Even the gospel glimpses are difficult to convey. Brigham Young said, ‘I cannot talk all my feelings, I cannot tell you what I feel and what I see in the Spirit.’ This inability to articulate concerns not only the grand and sacred things but also the simple joys of faith: ‘I cannot say the smallest part which I feel’ (Alma 26:16). Thus it is not only that our eyes and ears have not yet experienced what lies ahead; even if they had, the tongue could not fully express our feelings in the face of such sublime and reassuring things! President Brigham Young’s words remind us of Jacob’s: ‘If I could take away the veil, and let you see how things really are, you would then know just as well as I know, and I know them just as well as any man on the face of the earth need to.’” (That Ye May Believe, p. 200)

Elder Bednar said this about the mysteries of God:

As we ask in faith, we can receive revelation upon revelation and knowledge upon knowledge and come to know the mysteries and peaceable things – that bring joy and eternal life (see D&C 42:61). The mysteries are those matters that can only be known and understood by the power of the Holy Ghost (see Harold B. Lee, Ye Are the Light of the World [1974], 211). David A. Bednar, “Pray Always,” October General Conference, 2008.

Craving praise, bending our character

[Our] craving for praise and popularity too often controls actions, and as [people] succumb they find themselves bending their character when they think they are only taking a bow.

N. Eldon Tanner, Ensign, Nov. 1975, p. 76

Materialism's quartet and quintet

Readjusting our desires to give highest priority to the things of eternity is not easy. We are all tempted to desire that worldly quartet of property, prominence, pride, and power. We might desire these, but we should not fix them as our highest priorities.

Those whose highest desire is to acquire possessions fall into the trap of materialism. They fail to heed the warning “Seek not after riches nor the vain things of this world” (Alma 39:14; see also Jacob 2:18).
Dallin H. Oaks, “Desire,” April 2011 General Conference

For true believers, the tugs and pulls of the world—including its pleasures, power, praise, money, and preeminence—have always been there. Now, however, many once-helpful support systems are bent or broken. Furthermore, the harmful things of the world are marketed by pervasive technology and hyped by a media barrage, potentially reaching almost every home and hamlet. All this when many are already tuned out of spiritual things, saying, “I am rich, … increased with goods, and have need of nothing “ (Revelation 3:17).
Neal A. Maxwell, “The Tugs and Pulls of the World,” October 2000 General Conference

Humility: thinking less about ourselves

Some suppose that humility is about beating ourselves up. Humility does not mean convincing ourselves that we are worthless, meaningless, or of little value. Nor does it mean denying or withholding the talents God has given us. We don’t discover humility by thinking less of ourselves; we discover humility by thinking less about ourselves. It comes as we go about our work with an attitude of serving God and our fellowman.

Humility directs our attention and love toward others and to Heavenly Father’s purposes. Pride does the opposite. Pride draws its energy and strength from the deep wells of selfishness. The moment we stop obsessing with ourselves and lose ourselves in service, our pride diminishes and begins to die.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Pride and the Priesthood”, Ensign, Nov. 2010, 55–58

The danger of the trendy and the popular

…as a covenant people, our behavioral loyalties are to be with the Lord, not with the Caesars of this world….

If we are meek and have the gift of the Holy Ghost, we will not be subject to the manipulation of our appetites by the trendy….

Given our contemporary context, no wonder President Thomas S. Monson recently cautioned Church members not to put “popularity over principle.”

If becoming popular requires participating in the follies and the fashions of the world, it is too big a price to pay for fleeting approval.
Neal A. Maxwell, “Popularity and Principle,” Ensign, Mar 1995, 12

We do not serve our Savior well if we fear man more than God. He rebuked some leaders in His restored Church for seeking the praise of the world and for having their minds on the things of the earth more than on the things of the Lord (see D&C 30:2; 58:39). Those chastisements remind us that we are called to establish the Lord’s standards, not to follow the world’s. Elder John A. Widtsoe declared, “We cannot walk as other men, or talk as other men, or do as other men, for we have a different destiny, obligation, and responsibility placed upon us, and we must fit ourselves [to it].” That reality has current application to every trendy action, including immodest dress. As a wise friend observed, “You can’t be a life saver if you look like all the other swimmers on the beach.”

Those who are caught up in trying to save their lives by seeking the praise of the world are actually rejecting the Savior’s teaching that the only way to save our eternal life is to love one another and lose our lives in service.

C. S. Lewis explained this teaching of the Savior: “The moment you have a self at all, there is a possibility of putting yourself first—wanting to be the centre—wanting to be God, in fact. That was the sin of Satan: and that was the sin he taught the human race. Some people think the fall of man had something to do with sex, but that is a mistake. . . . What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come . . . the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “Unselfish Service,” April General Conference, 2009

Quotes on pride: reading by the lamp of our own conceit

The following quotes are from President Ezra Taft Benson’s classic talk on pride, “Cleansing the Inner Vessel,” Ensign, May 1986, 4:

“Essentially, pride is a “my will” rather than “thy will” approach to life. The opposite of pride is humbleness, meekness, submissiveness (see Alma 13:28), or teachableness.”

“Pride does not look up to God and care about what is right. It looks sideways to man and argues who is right. Pride is manifest in the spirit of contention.”
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