Winning wars for self-control

Inner struggle prceeds in tranquil, turbulent times

Even in times of conflict, caring for "the life of the soul" is still what matters most, Elder Neal A. Maxwell declared Sunday morning.

"Though events set up the defining moments which can evoke profiles in righteousness, outward commotions cannot excuse any failure of inward resolve, even if some seem to unravel so easily. If hostilities break out here and there, we still need not break our covenants!"

Quoting from Doctrine and Covenants 101:37, Elder Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve said: "Whatever our anxious involvements with outward events, this inner struggle proceeds in both tranquil and turbulent times. Whether understood or recognized, this is the unchanging mortal agendum — from generation to generation."

Some inward decisions occur in uneventful times, such as with the prodigal son. "At other times, however, the interplay of outward and inward things is more visible," Elder Maxwell said, such as when Pilate yielded to a conditioned crowd, amnestying Barabbas instead of Jesus. Christ went on to perform "the agonizing but emancipating universal atonement."

Just as whitecaps do not disclose the changes within a deep sea, "so in the case of the Atonement, things global and eternal in their significance were happening in a small garden and on an obscure hill."

Continuing, Elder Maxwell explained: "Uncertainty as to world conditions does not justify moral uncertainty, and distracting churn will not cover our sins nor dim God's all-seeing eye. Furthermore, military victories are no substitute for winning our individual wars for self-control. Nor do the raging, human hatreds lessen God's perfect and redeeming love for all His children. Likewise, the obscuring mists of the moment cannot change the reality that Christ is the Light of the World."

God's "divine determinations are guaranteed, since whatever He takes in His heart to do, He will surely do it. He knows the end from the beginning. God is fully able to do His work and to bring all His purposes to pass, something untrue of the best laid plans of man since we so often use our agency amiss. . . .

"Meanwhile, the defining moments in the life of the soul continue to turn on whether we respond with self-indulgence or self-denial, in our daily, individual decisions as between kindness and anger, mercy and injustice, generosity and meanness."

In speaking of the "mighty change" that happens when a person is converted and finally hungers and thirsts after righteousness, Elder Maxwell explained: "Conversion basically represents the transformation from the natural man to becoming the man of Christ. It is a labor which takes more than an afternoon."

Righteous individuals, he continued, "perform another vital but quiet service to mankind: they become part of the critical mass which can evoke God's much needed blessings on all humanity."

"Truly converted disciples, though still imperfect, will pursue the life of the soul on any day, in any decade, amid any decadence and destruction. This process constitutes being about our 'Father's business.' "