Today, I’m thinking about obedience.
Many people feel that the commandments are burdensome and that they limit freedom and personal growth. But the Savior taught that true freedom comes only from following Him: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31–32). God gives commandments for our benefit. They are loving instructions for our happiness and for our physical and spiritual well-being.
Why is it so difficult to be obedient? I’m ashamed to admit I’ve always struggled with the act of obedience. I’m a natural rebel and question everything. It is a challenge for me to remain obedient. This may come as a bit of a shock to those who know me personally. (Sarcasm for those who don’t.)
I work very hard to always tell the truth daily no matter what. Telling the truth should be easy, but I often find myself wanting to tell ‘little white lies’ to spare someone’s feelings or avoid confrontation. (What’s the big deal of omitting exactly how much money I spent to The Husband?)
This thought appeared in my head when I was thinking of this topic of obedience and honesty: little white lies accumulate to such the point it will be difficult to differentiate from what is the truth. It seems as if it isn’t a big deal-these little white lies that aren’t hurting anyone-but in truth (irony) is it is inflicting damage to one’s soul.
Years ago, I saw this example about what lies-any kind of lie- can do to your soul. You take a glass of water which represents your soul. There is also a little bowl of black dirt which represents a lie. You have a regular teaspoon for your big whopper of lies and your first finger and thumb will be for your white lies in which you’d add only a pinch to the clean water AKA your soul.
Above the picture is of a clean glass of water. No lies have been told. Imagine adding only a pinch of dirt for one of those little white lies…only a tiny little pinch…would you still drink the water?
“Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving. …”
~President James E. Faust (1920–2007), Second Counselor in the First Presidency
Aristotle said that wicked men obey because of fear and that good men obey because of love. (See Useful Quotations, ed. Tyron Edwards, New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1933, p. 428.) Ask yourself: Are you obedient because of love or because of fear?
We have free agency in which we can decide to be obedient in all things or not. I’ve found myself justifying my rebellious attitude by implying it is part of my genetic make-up as if can’t be helped. (IE: “That’s just the way I am, deal with it.)
Obedience is the beginning of wisdom and wisdom will come to the humble who are obedient.
The gift of wisdom comes to those who seek it with humility. “Let him that is ignorant learn wisdom by humbling himself and calling upon the Lord his God … ;
“For my Spirit is sent forth into the world to enlighten the humble and contrite” (D&C 136:32–33).
When I study my Scriptures, make time for prayer and listen to uplifting wholesome music, my demeanor is different from if I never read my Scriptures, didn’t pray and listened to music unbecoming for Christians. Our spiritual diet is as important as our physical one. If we eat bad foods that taste good more than we eat the healthy stuff…we have the instant gratification in the taste but have the long-term effects of what that junk food does to our bodies.
It’s interesting how easy it all really is…how if we do the things our Heavenly Father commands of us we will not only be in the act of obedience…but we will be exercising faith and enjoying the wonderful blessings bestowed to us.
It’s so easy…
Yet, we still struggle, because as easy as it all is, we have the Adversary throwing down the hurdles and blinding us with harmful detours. It is not a matter of what is the right thing to do, it is the matter of doing what is right…easy or not. This is faith. This is wisdom. This is obedience.
President Gordon B. Hinckley: “Why are we such a happy people? It is because of our faith, the quiet assurance that abides in our hearts that our Father in Heaven, overseeing all, will look after His sons and daughters who walk before Him with love and appreciation and obedience. We will ever be a happy people if we will so conduct our lives” (“What Are People Asking about Us?” Liahona, Jan. 1999, 85; Ensign, Nov. 1998, 72).
How Can You Find the Strength to Be Obedient?
President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985): “When we are inclined to think it is vain to serve the Lord, we should stir our faith, believe in the rich promises of God, and obey—and patiently wait. The Lord will fulfill all his rich promises. … To the faithful, lavish rewards are offered. Blessings beyond one’s understanding will come. … Great as are the blessings in mortality which follow righteousness, they are dwarfed beside those awaiting in the world to come” (The Miracle of Forgiveness , 305–6).
Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “You will need the help of heaven to keep the commandments. You will need it more and more as the days go on. … But you can bring the protective powers of heaven down on you by simply deciding to go toward the Savior, to wait on him” (To Draw Closer to God , 98).
How Has Obedience Blessed Your Life?
Mosiah 2:41 : “Ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. … They are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness.”
Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “We can … know, through obedience, how much God loves us as his immortal children. It happens just as President Brigham Young said it would: ‘How shall we know that we obey [God]? There is but one method by which we can know it, and that is by the inspiration of the Spirit of the Lord witnessing unto our spirit that we are His, that we love Him, and that He loves us. It is by the spirit of revelation we know this’ (Deseret News Semi-Weekly, 26 Nov. 1867, n.p.). If we can get that witness for ourselves … , then we can cope with and endure well whatever comes” (“The Pathway of Discipleship,” Ensign, Sept. 1998, 7).
Susan W. Tanner, Young Women general president: “Each week we renew our baptismal covenants to take His name upon us, to ‘always remember him,’ and to ‘keep his commandments’ (see D&C 20:77). We are steadfast in Christ when we do these things, and our spirits are lifted and our hearts are filled with love. … Covenants enlarge our hearts and allow us to feel the ‘love of God and of all men’ (2 Ne. 31:20)” (“Steadfast in Our Covenants,” Liahona, May 2003, 101–2).
John 15:10 : “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love.”