Throwback Thursday: Elder Bednar on How to Increase Love

david a bednar - cropped

This week, the throwback isn’t all that much of a “throw”, as it comes from a talk David A. Bednar gave in April of this year. We Believe in Being Chaste was the title of his message and he spends quite a bit of time explaining why Latter-day Saints do believe in being chaste. There are many lines worth quoting (and in fact the whole thing is worth reading), but today I’ll just share this little statement:

Love increases through righteous restraint and decreases through impulsive indulgence.

And there you have it. Short and sweet. If Elder Bednar was going for a concise and memorable statement (say 140 characters or so), I say he deserves high marks. The character count on this particular line comes in at a healthy 85 – plenty of breathing room to add all kinds of relevant hashtags. It’s brief, yet powerful. Catchy, but not cliché. Perfect for our Twitterized world.

But it’s even more perfect for how we should govern our lives. I’d venture a guess that we all have learned from experience that our ability to feel real, genuine love is enhanced when we deliberately discipline our lives. Likewise, we diminish our ability when we abandon that discipline. An impulsive indulgence could be as subtle as a mouse click, which leads to a pornographic website or image. Or lingering on an indecent TV show while channel surfing. But righteous restraint looks and acts like Joseph of old, who fled from a tempting situation and “got him out” (Gen. 39:12).

So here’s to righteous restraint and to rejuvenating repentance. Let’s always remember there’s a way back and a way up, if for whatever reason, we’ve stumbled in our efforts to righteously restrain all our passions.

Photo credit: lds.org

Throwback Thursday: Elder Hales on Responding to Accusers

elder-hales-in-an-interview-paast-bioLately, I’ve been impressed by the sermons of Robert D. Hales. From an address entitled Christian Courage in October 2008, he taught the importance of being Christlike in our conversations with others:

This is especially important in our interactions with members of other Christian denominations. Surely our Heavenly Father is saddened—and the devil laughs—when we contentiously debate doctrinal differences with our Christian neighbors.

I imagine the same is true when we engage in contentious debates with fellow Latter-day Saints or anyone else for that matter. After all, regardless of the subject matter or the parties involved, the spirit of contention has only one source.

I’ve had more than a few conversations with others who have been critical or dismissive of my beliefs. These interactions have made me think about how I could best respond, and often, I want to do and be better. Here are some additional takeaways from Elder Hales, all direct quotes:

  • Remember that Jesus Himself was despised and rejected by the world.
  • The Savior responded differently in every situation.
  • When we do not retaliate—when we turn the other cheek and resist feelings of anger—we too stand with the Savior.
  • “The world hath hated [my disciples],” Jesus said, “because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:14).
  • True disciples of Christ see opportunity in the midst of opposition.
  • As true disciples seek guidance from the Spirit, they receive inspiration tailored to each encounter.
  • And in every encounter, true disciples respond in ways that invite the Spirit of the Lord.
  • As true disciples, our primary concern must be others’ welfare, not personal vindication.
  • Without guile, true disciples avoid being unduly judgmental of others’ views.
  • As the Savior demonstrated with Herod, sometimes true disciples must show Christian courage by saying nothing at all.
  • We do not feel we are better than they are. Rather, we desire with our love to show them a better way—the way of Jesus Christ.
  • …to “love [our] enemies, bless them that curse [us], do good to them that hate [us], and pray for them which despitefully use [us], and persecute [us]” (Matthew 5:44) takes faith, strength, and, most of all, Christian courage.

Photo credit: lds.org

 

Throwback Thursday: Elder Holland on Faith

I’ve been listening to a number of talks from Apostle Jeffrey Holland lately. His most recent General Conference talk on depression and mental illness was excellent, which you can find here. The other day, however, I randomly listened to two of his talks given ten years apart and found a repeating theme:

From this talk in April 2003 on teaching children:

In matters of religion a skeptical mind is not a higher manifestation of virtue than is a believing heart…

And from this talk in April 2013 on the importance of faith:

Sometimes we act as if an honest declaration of doubt is a higher manifestation of moral courage than is an honest declaration of faith. It is not!

To be clear, he doesn’t say one should not have doubts, or not ask honest questions. Asking questions is paramount to discovering answers and receiving revelation. But his ultimate message is: don’t forfeit the faith you’ve already developed, even if it seems small. And don’t forget how often Jesus urged his followers to simply “believe.”

After all, in the eyes of God, Thomas’ doubts were not deemed superior to others’ choice to believe. Perhaps that’s the lesson Elder Holland is trying to teach us.