We live in imperfect times. Each day we are confronted with reminders of how ungodly the world has become and how much the human condition needs improvement.
Reinforcing gospel principles in our lives is all-important. Simple lip service does not do it.In Section 59 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord provides a blueprint of some of the things we must do:
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy might, mind, and strength; and in the name of Jesus Christ thou shalt serve him.
"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Thou shalt not steal; neither commit adultery, nor kill, nor do anything like unto it.
"Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things.
"Thou shalt offer a sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in righteousness, even that of a broken heart and a contrite spirit.
"And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day." (D&C 59:5-9.)
Certainly, if we follow this blueprint, we will be spiritually strengthened in a world that is filled with pitfalls and snares that could trap us.
Several years ago, a newly called mission president visited with his family before departing for his assigned area and expressed the hope that when he and his wife returned that he would find those he cared about had grown spiritually. He challenged them to move to a higher spiritual plane during the next three years.
When he returned to the United States after his mission, he was pleased that his family had grown spiritually, but he also remarked how much more violent and coarse the media and other people in society had become. He was shocked by some of the language he heard routinely in the classroom and on television. The profane use of Deity was most distressing.
He asked how such coarseness could be tolerated. The reply of his family was that they tried to avoid those types of shows or situations, but when they could not they expressed how they did not like that type of language. Since they had taken his challenge to move to higher spiritual ground, they had tried to divest themselves of worldly pursuits, had spent more time studying the gospel each week, praying daily, attending the temple regularly and helping one another through Christian service.
While showing tolerance for others' beliefs, they stood their ground when it came to their own spiritual matters, and they defended their faith when the situation warranted it.
They said they realized they could not change everything around them, but they could change something – and certainly they could change themselves and try to influence those with whom they came in contact.
After seeing their spiritual strength, the mission president remarked he knew now how Alma the younger must have felt when he stumbled upon the sons of Mosiah after their long separation:
"And now it came to pass that as Alma was journeying . . . behold, to his astonishment, he met with the sons of Mosiah. . . .
Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.
But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God." (Alma 17:1-3.)
Yes, there is indeed much rejoicing when we do what our Heavenly Father would have us do.
There are many in the Church who have waxed strong in the knowledge of truth or who have stood by their principles in the face of ridicule or intolerance. We need not go far to find them. By following the prophets and charting a course to eternal life, we, too, can remain unspotted from the world. We can build our lives upon eternal principles and assist those around us.
President Spencer W. Kimball remarked: "And how to work toward perfection in our lives? It is not a one-time decision to be made, but a process to be pursued, slowly and laboriously through a lifetime. We build from simple building blocks adding refinements as the building rises toward the heavens." (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 166.)