President Thomas S. Monson summed up what we must do as we endeavor to return home to our Heavenly Father: “Choose the right.”
“I have been thinking recently about choices,” President Monson said during his address in the Sunday morning session of the 186th Annual General Conference on April 3. “It has been said that the door of history turns on small hinges, and so do people’s lives. The choices we make determine our destiny.
“When we left our premortal existence and entered mortality, we brought with us the gift of agency. Our goal is to obtain celestial glory, and the choices we make will, in large part, determine whether or not we reach our goal.”
President Monson, who often turns to literature to drive home points in his sermons, referred to Lewis Carroll’s classic novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that, in part, tells of Alice asking the Cheshire Cat at a crossroads which of two paths she should take. The cat answers, “That depends where you want to go. If you do not know where you want to go, it doesn’t matter which path you take.” President Monson said, “Unlike Alice, we know where we want to go, and it does matter which way we go, for the path we follow in this life leads to our destination in the next life.
“May we choose to build up within ourselves a great and powerful faith which will be our most effective defense against the designs of the adversary — a real faith, the kind of faith which will sustain us and will bolster our desire to choose the right. Without such faith, we go nowhere. With it, we can accomplish our goals.” Sometimes, we might make foolish choices, President Monson noted. “The gift of repentance, provided by our Savior, enables us to correct our course settings, that we might return to the path which will lead us to that celestial glory we seek,” he said.
“May we maintain the courage to defy the consensus. May we ever choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.
“As we contemplate the decisions we make in our lives each day — whether to make this choice or that choice — if we choose Christ, we will have made the correct choice.”
Many times, we see immediately the consequences of our choices, especially in our temporal lives. If we take proper action, we might be able to change the outcome of wrong choices or, at least, lessen their negative impact. For example, if we miss a turn as we drive across town or across the country, we can determine how to pick up the right route further along the way or go back and get on the right road.
Many of our choices have eternal consequences. While we might not be able to go back physically and correct our mistakes as easily as turning a car around, we can get back on the right road through the repentance process President Monson described.
In an address at Brigham Young University on Oct. 26, 1965, Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and later the 15th president of the Church, suggested three standards by which to judge each of the decisions that determine the behavior patterns of our lives. He said: “These standards are so simple as to appear elementary, but I believe their faithful observance will provide a set of moral imperatives by which to govern without argument or equivocation each of our actions and which will bring unmatched rewards. They are:
“1. Does it enrich the mind?
“2. Does it discipline and strengthen the body?
“3. Does it nourish the spirit?”
Elder Hinckley then said, “This is our divine right — to choose. This is our divine obligation — to choose the right. God give us the strength, the courage, the faith in all our choices to choose that which will enrich the mind, strengthen and discipline the body, nourish the spirit, and thus give us growth and joy in this life and eternal life in the world to come” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, pp. 54-55, Deseret Book Co., 1997).
If we can answer “Yes” to each of the questions Elder Hinckley proposed, we may enjoy the blessing of having the Holy Ghost affirm that we are proceeding correctly. Without the promptings of and affirmations by the Holy Ghost, we are in peril of making mistakes, some of them costly.
President Brigham Young warned: “Do not suppose that we shall ever in the flesh be free from temptation” (Journal of Discourses 10:173).
Speaking during the priesthood session of the October 2010 general conference, President Monson said, “Scarcely an hour of the day goes by but what we are called upon to make choices of one sort or another. Some are trivial, some more far-reaching. Some will make no difference in the eternal scheme of things, and others will make all the difference.”
President Monson further stated: “Eternal life in the kingdom of our Father is your goal. Such a goal is not achieved in one glorious attempt but rather is the result of a lifetime of righteousness, an accumulation of wise choices, even a constancy of purpose. As with anything really worthwhile, the reward of eternal life requires effort.”
May we heed the latest counsel delivered by the prophet the Lord has called to direct us at this particular time in the history of the Church, even the world.