“Careful versus Casual” by Becky Craven

General Conference, April 2019 – Saturday Morning Session – “Careful versus Casual” by Sister Becky Craven, Second Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency

True happiness is found in living the gospel of Jesus Christ.

There is a careful way and a casual way to do everything, including keeping our covenants with the Lord. When we find ourselves rationalizing our behavior, we are being casual in our efforts to keep our covenants and we are, in effect, saying that certain counsel from the prophets doesn’t apply to us.

“[T]here is not a right way to do the wrong thing!”

I love that quote so much! It was one of my biggest takeaways from conference this year and I have found myself pondering it over and over again in the days since conference ended.

There is not a right way to do the wrong thing…

  • Because the wrong thing is never right. (Colossians 3:25)
  • Because the wrong thing can never be right no matter the mental gymnastics used to rationalize or justify it. (Proverbs 17:15)
  • Because evil can never be good. (Isaiah 5:20)
  • Because wickedness never was happiness (Alma 41:10).
  • Because the wrong direction will never lead to the right destination. (1 Nephi 8)

The wrong thing is never right.

But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons. (Colossians 3:25)

It doesn’t matter who you are or your position in society (or the church!), the Lord will not reward you if you do wrong.

The wrong thing can never be right  no matter the mental gymnastics used to rationalize or justify it.

He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord. (Proverbs 17:15)

This verse could be interpreted a couple of ways. “He that justifieth the wicked [in other people]” or “He that justifieth the wicked [in himself].” Either type of person would be an abomination to the Lord, in addition to those who condemn the just.

Evil can never be good.

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)

I know it’s not a new thing, I know some people have always called evil “good,” celebrated it, glorified it even; turned things upside down and called darkness “light” and light “darkness.” Somewhere, the adversary is always trying to make evil sound new, trendy, and open-minded and good sound old, dated, and close-minded.

Because wickedness never was happiness.

Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration, that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness. (Alma 41:10)

The darkness that comes to the soul when we are in the midst of sin can blind us to our present unhappiness and we think we are having “fun.” But it isn’t the same as the joy and peace that comes with living according to the gospel principles, not even close.

Because the wrong direction will never lead to the right destination.

In her talk, Sister Craven said that in the vision of the tree of life, the river of water (which represents the filth of the world) passed near the tree of life but did not, like the iron rod (which represents the word of God) lead directly to it. (1 Nephi 8)

lehis-dream-jerry-thompson-82746-mobile

Lehi’s Dream, by Jerry Thompson (62620); GAB 69; Primary manual 4-12

“How Can I Understand?” by Ulisses S. Soares

General Conference, April 2019 – Saturday Morning Session – “How Can I Understand” by Elder Ulisses S. Soares, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

And [the eunuch] said, How can I [understand], except some man should guide me?

The eunuch had been studying the book of Isaiah when the Apostle Peter asked him if he understood what he was reading. This was the eunuch’s response. I think that could be the response of many of us when we study the scriptures, especially Isaiah!

We are to learn and teach others what we have learned.

Elder Soares said “Our purpose as we seek to learn and to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ must be to increase faith in God and in His divine plan of happiness and in Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice and to achieve lasting conversion.” There is actually a lot packed into just these few words, so I’ll break it out:

  1. Increase faith in God.
  2. Increase faith in God’s plan of happiness.
  3. Increase faith in Jesus Christ.
  4. Increase faith in Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice.
  5. Achieve lasting conversion.

Doing these things will transform us into a new creature. This concept of becoming a new creature through the gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t new, it’s been spoken of in the scriptures (2 Corinthians 5:17 and Mosiah 27:26) and in recent General Conference talks (David A. Bednar 2007 and Dallin H. Oaks 2000) and in not-so recent General Conference talks (Robert E. Sackley 1988, Rex D. Pinegar 1978).

Elder Soares said “The commandment to learn the gospel and teach it to one another is not new; it has been constantly repeated from the beginning of human history.” Prophets have warned throughout the scriptures and right on into our current day that we are to learn and teach each other.

Only when we have learned the truth will we be able to “discern it at all times.” (Soares, 2019) The best teacher is a good example, of course. But what happens when we have been doing all the things we’re supposed to, but our loved ones have distanced themselves from the Lord? Elder Soares reminds us that they are not lost, the Lord knows where they are and He loves them!

I love the thought that, because the Lord always knows where we are, no one is “lost.” What a beautiful reminder of the Lord’s love for all His children.

Elder Soares reminds us, too, not to judge or reject others, but to love them and be their friend and look for the good in them. He counsels us to preserve our relationships with them and continue praying for them. We can’t know what is in others’ hearts, only the Lord can know that, but we can love them and be there for them and trust that the Lord, in His infinite wisdom and love, will always keep them in His sight.

 

 

Keeping Score

Sometimes I monitor the behavior of other people and make a mental note of all things they’re doing that they shouldn’t be or that they’re doing “wrong” (i.e. differently than I would do it).

I’m very good at finding the mote in someone else’s eye, is what I’m saying. (Luke 6: 41-42, Matthew 7:3-5)

I’ve found it helpful to ask myself in that moment “What are you going to DO with this information, self?” I’m not really going to present the object of my ire with a spreadsheet documenting all the occasions when they misused the word “there” or loaded the dishwasher wrong (or whatever thing I’m annoyed by), am I? No, of course not, that would be ridiculous!

In last week’s Come, Follow Me the first section is titled “I show my love for Jesus Christ by keeping His commandment to love.” Keeping score of another’s shortcomings isn’t very loving, is it? It doesn’t even matter if I never share that information with anyone, if I’m keeping score, that means I’m not loving that person in my heart, therefore I’m not keeping the commandment the way I should be.

I’ll continue to ask myself “What are you going to DO with this information?” when I start to keep score and remind myself to think a loving thought about the other person instead.