Focus on things of greatest worth

Focus on inward things of the heart

Have listening ears for living prophet- Avoid sins of omission

"We are not only to avoid evil, not only to do good, but most importantly, to do the things of greatest worth," said President James E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency.

"We are to focus on the inward things of the heart, which we know and value intuitively, but often neglect for that which is trivial, superficial or prideful."

In his Sunday morning address, President Faust spoke of "the essence of the gospel."

"The Savior taught that judgment, mercy and faith are the `weightier matters of the law.' " (Matt. 23:23.)

President Faust emphasized that "the commandments of God must be kept to receive the blessings and promises of the Savior," but with the Savior's coming "came new light and life, which brings a fuller measure of joy and happiness." Jesus introduced a higher and more difficult standard of conduct, which focuses more on internal rather than external requirements.

Some of these, he said, are: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you; love your neighbor as yourself; when smitten, turn the other cheek; when asked for a coat, give your cloak also; forgive, not just once, but seventy times seven.

"This was the essence of the new gospel. There was more emphasis on do than do not," said President Faust.

The Prophet Joseph Smith brought "more light, warmth and joy into the Church through numerous lofty revelations, such as how the priesthood should be exercised: `No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned.' " (D&C 121:41.)

"Over the centuries," President Faust continued, "dogmatism, coercion and intolerance have too often polluted the living water of the gospel, which quenches our spiritual thirst eternally."

He said that the Savior observed this when He said, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone." (Matt. 23:23-24.)

President Faust explained that the saving principles and doctrines of the Church are established and unchangeable and obedience is necessary, although the manner of administering complex and varied worldwide challenges changes from time to time.

"I have a fear that some members consider guidelines and procedures to be as important as the timeless immutable laws of the gospel," he said.

He told of serving as bishop many years ago when a conscientious father came for advice about the many and frequent activities of the Church that made it difficult for him to have family togetherness.

"Parents have not only the right, but the duty to determine the extent of their family's involvement in social activities. Family unity, solidarity and harmony should be preserved. After all, the family is the permanent, basic unit of the Church."

He listed three sources of guidance for making moral judgments: the Holy Ghost, wise counsel of priesthood leaders and a demonstration of love that should temper all judgments. "Sometimes this means discipline."

There must also be listening ears and obedience to living prophets, he said.

"Today we have a living prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley, whom we sustain as the prophet of our day. He has warned us `to speak up for moral standards in a world where filth, sleaze, pornography and their whole evil brood are sweeping over us as a flood.' "

In large measure, those who are disobedient punish themselves, but "those entrusted with judicial responsibility in the kingdom of God must see that the Church remains clean so that the living waters of life eternal flow unimpeded," he said.

But true religion has the spirit of strengthening and overlooking faults, "even as we would wish our own faults to be overlooked," he said. "When we focus our entire attention on what may be wrong rather than what is right, we miss the sublime beauty and essence of the sweet gospel of the Master."

In explaining mercy, President Faust told of the forgiveness of W.W. Phelps by Joseph Smith, who wrote:

"Come on, dear brother, since the war is past, for friends at first are friends again at last."

"W.W. Phelps remained true and faithful and wrote the words to the marvelous hymn, `Praise to the Man,' " he said.

Regarding faith, President Faust related the account of a 10-year-old boy, Will Cluff, whose poor family lived in Nauvoo in 1842. They lost a cow, and despite searches, did not find it. Fervent prayer led the boy to the missing animal.

President Faust warned against the "sins of omission." Speaking with great emotion, he told of his grandmother cooking delicious meals on a hot wood stove, then silently refilling the heavy wood box herself.

"I was so insensitive and so interested in the conversation in the kitchen, I sat there and let my beloved grandmother refill the kitchen wood box," said President Faust, overcome by emotion.

"I feel ashamed of myself and have regretted my omission for all of my life. I hope someday to ask her forgiveness."

He said that those who "extend mercy, faith and forgiveness exhibit a greatness of soul and mind consistent with the spirit of the Lord's teaching and example. This higher gospel requires that we look inward to our own souls, for we cannot deceive the Lord."

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