Some years ago, President Spencer W. Kimball, in a general conference address, used a phrase that could save us considerable heartache if we would heed it.
In addressing the priesthood session of the April 1976 general conference, President Kimball talked about making certain decisions only once and doing so early in life. "Indecision and discouragement are climates in which the adversary lives to function, for he can inflict so many casualties among mankind in those settings," President Kimball said. And then he admonished:"Decide to decide!"
Such a simple directive, but, oh, so powerful!
"I have mentioned at this pulpit before," continued President Kimball, "some determinations made early in my life, which decisions were such a help to me because I did not have to remake those decisions perpetually. We can push some things away from us once and have done with them! We can make a single decision about certain things that we will incorporate in our lives and then make them ours – without having to brood and redecide a hundred times what it is we will do and what we will not do."
Years ago, two seventh grade boys were walking to school one morning and saw a man standing on the sidewalk who was smoking.
"Do you think you'll ever smoke?" asked one boy.
"You can't tell what you will do when you get older," answered the second boy. "You don't know what you'll do."
"I know what I'll do," retorted the first boy. "I'll never smoke!"
And with that, the conversation ended.
Years passed. The boys, once friends, grew apart and went their separate ways. Later, in their 20s, they met again. The first young man, who had decided early what his standards would be, had served a mission and was attending the university. He was planning marriage in the temple. The second young man, who "couldn't tell what he would do when he got older," had drifted with the temptations of the world. Sadly, he became entangled along their crooked paths. He never made the commitment to draw a line that he would not cross.
Even at his young age, he was a slave not only to tobacco but also to alcohol. His life was without moorings. He had already forfeited many choice blessings and endured much heartache. But that would only be the beginning, if he continued to travel the broad path he was on. More heartache would dog him and greater blessings would be lost unless he reversed the course he was traveling.
What we will be tomorrow depends upon what we decide today.
Is there any wonder why young people are counseled by the Church to set high standards early in life that will bring them happiness and the blessings of a loving Heavenly Father. Even though much counsel is given to young people to make right decisions, we never grow too old to make those decisions.
Once righteous decisions are firmly set, we can move on and not worry about how we will act and react in times of temptation. Without a firm commitment to high standards, however, chances are we may succumb to temptations and follow the evil one.
"Choose you this day whom ye will serve, . . ." Joshua counseled. (See Josh. 24:15.)
We need to decide whom we will follow. We need to decide what kind of eternal home we want and then chart the path leading to it.
Surely, we can decide that we will not smoke or drink alcoholic beverages or use illegal drugs.
Surely, we can decide to be active members of the Church, to pay tithing and other offerings and to be faithful and diligent in our duties.
Surely, we can decide to obey the commandments of God and serve the Lord and our fellowman.
Surely, we can decide to be married in the temple and keep the covenants we make therein.
Surely, we can set our standards high and live our lives in such a way that we will not compromise those standards. Surely, we can draw a line of demarcation that will separate us from evil that we will not cross.
President David O. McKay used to say in general conference addresses that "the greatest battle of life is fought out within the silent chambers of the soul." In the April 1969 general conference he said: "There is a battle going on within you, and within me, every day. Fight it out with yourself, and decide upon your course of action. . . ."
Surely, the battle within becomes somewhat easier if we make the decision to do as President George Albert Smith frequently admonished: "Stay on the Lord's side of the line."