As individuals follow the path of the Savior and continually progress intellectually, physically, spiritually and socially, they will find success and an increase in favor with God, Elder W. Craig Zwick of the Seventy told Brigham Young University-Idaho graduates on Dec. 19.
Commencement exercises were held in the BYU-I Center and honored this semester’s graduating class of 1,708 graduates — among them 1,275 bachelors degrees and 461 associates degrees.
“All of us can and must continue to advance all the days of our lives in all that really matters,” he said. “Just as Jesus Christ received grace for grace until he had obtained a fullness, we must likewise develop line upon line or grace for grace, meted out incrementally until we ultimately receive a fullness.”
Looking to Luke 2:52 where it says, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man,” Elder Zwick said that “in one succinct even brief and simple sentence, we are given a divine pattern for true success in whatever we endeavor to achieve.”
Using the example of Christ’s incremental development, individuals are able to find fulfillment of their fondest hopes and aspirations as they follow and emulate His example.
“And Jesus increased in wisdom”
“As you move forward from Brigham Young University-Idaho, never minimize the degree you have both earned and received today,” he said. “You have accomplished great things that will benefit you in the years ahead. However, wisdom isn’t a one-time occurrence. It isn’t necessarily a diploma or an A or B grade. It is multi-faceted, and it comes in varied dosages. To expand our capacity and to keep pace with a changing world around us, we must continually seek wisdom throughout our lives.”
It is important to learn wisdom in specific professional, personal and spiritual pursuits, he said, warning that as individuals pursue their individual course, they will encounter ideas, theories, suggestions, offers and programs that seem to look good and are very enticing on the surface.
“In our quest for wisdom, it is important to remember that our actions must be in harmony with all fundamental and eternal truths,” he said. “Honesty is still honesty. Virtue is still virtue. Truth will always be truth. Do not be misled. Truth endures and is always consistent. As you seek the influence of the Spirit, you will know the path you should take. Remember that the wisdom perceived by the world is not a substitute for the wisdom of God.”
“And Jesus increased in stature”
“From the beginning, the Lord has emphasized the importance of this mortal experience — of having a body and a soul associated together,” he said.
Bodies are a gift from God, they are temples of one’s spirit and how individuals regard and take care of them matters, he taught. Physical wellbeing is a priceless treasure that will enhance all activities of life.
“Exercise your body and your mind,” he said. “A clean mind and a healthy body provide zest and meaning in all aspects of leadership and service to others. You will have more stamina and ability to work in every area of your life. You will experience joy and be more productive at home and in every work environment.”
He reminded the graduates of the protection the Word of Wisdom provides when individuals choose to live it, along with clean habits, thoughts and actions.
“And Jesus increased in favor with man”
Steady, unselfish ministry and service to others was the defining attribute of the Savior, Elder Zwick taught. “The real joy in life comes when one turns from a self-centered life to one centered in service to others.”
Growing in favor with man has an important impact on one’s ultimate success, but it is never a result of chance or a one-time effort, he taught.
“It requires kindness, authenticity and charity — not only with close friends or just with those you like. But the Savior has asked much more — to bless the lives of strangers,” he said.
“And Jesus increased in favor with God”
“This is the very foundation upon which all other worthwhile blessings rest,” he said.
Individuals increase in favor with God as they do His will, seek Him through humble prayer and are obedient to His commandments.
“Obedience brings blessings but exact obedience brings miracles,” he said. “That is a true principle and will bless your life if you live it and help others live it by your example.”
The process of discovering one’s own spiritual identity can be difficult and requires spiritual guidance, personal worship, study, perseverance and expanded faith, he taught.
“The philosophies of the world are numerous and can distract us from our objective. To arrive at our eternal destination, we, as sons and daughters of God, must develop and strengthen the divine attributes we have been given from a loving Heavenly Father.”
“Can you feel so now?”
“Our lives should be a reflection of our testimonies,” he said. “Let our desires be in harmony with God’s will, conquering selfish desires that would impede our personal progress. For that reason and a host of others, I encourage you to stand up for what you believe. Don’t be ashamed to believe and to proclaim that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ, the Redeemer of the world. Don’t be afraid to declare a clear position on family values, and don’t allow the world to invade our religious freedom.”
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