“There is no truth more widely known or accepted than this: God loves His children,” taught Elder Evan A. Schmutz, General Authority Seventy and member of the Utah Area Presidency in a BYU–Idaho devotional Tuesday, March 23.
Because of this love, God makes the gift of eternal life available to His children through Jesus Christ. “But it must be remembered that receiving the fruits of God’s love in our lives, and the richness of the promised rewards, are conditioned on how we respond to His perfect love.”
He recounted a commercial he had seen some years ago, in which a young woman visited her aging father.
“The daughter greeted him with a kiss and then turned to assist by washing some dishes in the sink. Thus, her back was turned to her father. She began to speak, asking a question: ‘Dad, how do you like the new iPad I bought you for your birthday?’ She heard no response, so she asked again, in a little louder voice: ‘Dad, do you like the new iPad I gave you?’ Again, no response.”
The daughter turned around to see her father chopping vegetables using the new iPad as a cutting board, then scraping the chopped vegetables from the iPad into boiling water.
Her father did not know or understand the value of the iPad or what it could do when used for its intended purposes and could not enjoy the full use of the gift. The ability to take full advantage of the gifts and promises God has offered to His children follow similar principles.
“God has reserved indescribably rich and eternal blessings for those who faithfully keep His commandments and obey His law,” Elder Schmutz said.
When he was a young man and would ask for permission to attend an activity or go somewhere with his friends, Elder Schmutz’s mother would “invariably” inquire about who he was going with and who else would be there.
“She was much more interested in the company I kept than the activities we planned,” he said. “She knew that if I were surrounded by young men and women who had the right goals and standards, I would be safe from spiritual harm.”
This principle aids to understand the three kingdoms of glory, the nature of the people who inhabit them and the qualifications necessary for admission.
“By studying the characteristics and attributes of the citizens of each kingdom, as well as a description of the lives they led on earth, I can learn what I need to do and what I need to become in order to ‘fit in’ and belong to the society of people who inhabit the glory of the celestial kingdom,” he said. Such a description can be found in Doctrine and Covenants 76:51-70.
President Russell M. Nelson taught a similar principle when he explained that in order to qualify for the gift of eternal life, “one must deny oneself of ungodliness and honor the ordinances and covenants of the temple. The resplendent bouquet of God’s love — including eternal life — includes blessings for which we must qualify, not entitlements to be expected unworthily. Sinners cannot bend His will to theirs and require Him to bless them in sin.”
It is not difficult to see the words of Paul exemplified in modern society, “when so many have disregarded God and chosen to become a law unto themselves,” Elder Schmutz said. However, it is not necessary to wholly reject God, Christ, and religion for a person to become a law unto himself.
Elder Schmutz cautioned against taking the more common route to this dangerous ground, which “is found in our willingness to listen to the voices of the world and begin to mingle the philosophies of men with the doctrine of God.”
“This is almost always done in little steps, advancing by degree until the pure doctrine of Christ no longer resides in us because it has become diluted by the philosophies of men,” he said.
To avoid falling in this trap, it is necessary to “grasp the rod with a fixed determination on our destination at the Tree of Life, holding fast and pressing forward through our daily study of and feasting on the words of Christ.”
Of great importance is also carefully evaluating “what we see and read against the immutable standard of God’s law. We can fall prey to the dangers spoken of by Samuel the Lamanite, ‘if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; … walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth … ye will receive him as a prophet,’” Elder Schmutz said.
He closed his address by inviting all to “let the words of God guide your journey in life; if you heed His counsel, you will see the rocks and shoals beneath the shallows that have shipwrecked many of the children of God.”
What do you remember about your baptism day? Sister Cindy L. Schmutz asked the students. As she reflected on her own baptism, she recalled details of the event, and emphasized the importance of letting the covenants made at baptism influence daily life.
Quoting President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, she taught, “We can take His (Jesus Christ) name upon us in many ways, but especially when we serve others in His name, read the scriptures and pray to know what He would have us do.”
As Christlike service is extended, both the giver and receiver are blessed. “Serving others refines us by helping us put off characteristics of the natural man like selfishness and sin and turns our focus to Christ and becoming more like Him.”
Regular scripture study also is helpful in efforts to keep the covenant to always remember Him and aid in knowing and keeping His commandments. Sister Schmutz recounted a trip taken with Elder Schmutz and Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to the Philippines. During a meeting with missionaries, Elder Andersen challenged them to always remember the Savior by going beyond just reading and studying the scriptures — he challenged them to memorize scriptures that were important to them, promising that as they did so, the scriptures would become more rooted in their hearts and minds and would be a blessing to them and to others.
The final way that Sister Schmutz outlined to more fully keep baptismal covenants was prayer. “Have faith that He hears your prayers and will give you the strength and guidance you need to keep your covenants,” she said.
She urged students and other listeners to more fully keep their baptismal covenants in order to “enjoy the promised blessing of always having the Spirit to be with you.”