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BYU students encouraged to ‘be honest in all you do’

During the weekly devotional at BYU, Elder Carpenter invites students to be completely honest, including in ecclesiastical endorsements, in relationships and in academics

During his address to Brigham Young University students on Tuesday, Elder Matthew L. Carpenter issued a simple but direct request. 

“I invite you to follow Jesus Christ and be honest in all you do,” the General Authority Seventy told students — in their ecclesiastical interviews, in their relationships with God, friends and family, and in their academic and professional pursuits.

Those who are honest will feel happier, Elder Carpenter promised. “You will feel more full of light. You will feel more confident and more comfortable in your relationships with others.” 

Having recently returned from serving in the Africa Central Area of the Church, Elder Carpenter told of a young missionary at the end of his mission who was given $100 in cash by his mission president to cover the costs of returning home to Liberia, one of the poorest nations in Africa. This missionary was directed to keep track of his expenses, provide receipts and give any unused money to his priesthood leader who would release him.

When the missionary arrived he gave his local priesthood leader $90 and receipts for the $10 spent en route. The priesthood leader said he realized as he drove away that the $90 could have fed the young man’s family for many months. 

“This young man proved that day that he could be trusted — he was honest and true,” Elder Carpenter said.

Elder Matthew L. Carpenter and Sister Shelly Carpenter smile as they introduce themselves during a BYU devotional in the Marriott Center.
Elder Matthew L. Carpenter, a General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Shelly Carpenter, introduce themselves during a BYU devotional in the Marriott Center on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023. | Joey Garrison, BYU

God and Christ are beings of light and truth. “There is no darkness in Them. Because They are full of light, it is contrary to Their nature to lie or to hide some dark deed in a shadow,” Elder Carpenter said.

Because God and Christ are completely honest, “we can trust whatever They say,” Elder Carpenter said. “When He says we are His child, a child of God, we can believe it … . When God says we are forgiven, we can believe it.”

Elder Carpenter then shared three examples to illustrate aspects of being honest and true.

Honesty in ecclesiastical endorsements

While Elder Carpenter was serving as a stake president, a young man submitting a missionary application originally stated he was fully worthy but then later confessed to a longstanding sinful addiction.

“Dear brothers and sisters, if we lie and enter the mission field unworthily, or lie and obtain a BYU endorsement unworthily, or lie and enter the temple unworthily, we compound our sins. We act contrary to the Light of Christ in us. We push away the Holy Ghost. When we hide or cover up our sins, we open ourselves to be under the power of Satan, and that is a path of darkness, not light.”

Elder Carpenter shared a quote by Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who taught: “When we desire to repent, honesty becomes crucially important. … Any type of deceit delays the repentance process. … When we seek out the Savior’s forgiveness, only total and complete honesty will open that important door. Remember, God knows the thoughts and intentions of our heart” (“The Divine Standard of Honesty,” Ensign, August 2017).

Students use their phones to scan a QR code on the jumbo tron to answer a question during a BYU devotional.
Students use their phones to scan a QR code to answer a question posed by Elder Matthew L. Carpenter during a devotional held in the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah, on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023. | Joey Garrison, BYU

Honesty in relationships

“How do we represent ourselves to our friends, our family members or our spouse (or for those who are single, our future spouse)?” Elder Carpenter asked.

It is natural for individuals to want to have others like and respect them, Elder Carpenter said. “We want to say the right things, make a good impression or look our best. These desires and efforts are normal and acceptable as long as we are honest. Being honest and true means that we do not mislead in how we represent ourselves to others, online or in person.”

After he served a mission, Elder Carpenter said, he was overcome with a paralyzing fear of public speaking, which became a stumbling block in college, professionally and in his Church service. With the support of his wife and help of the Lord, he learned to overcome this fear by focusing on others and the message that needed to be conveyed.

“For 41 years of marriage with my best friend, I have found that if I am open and honest with her about my weaknesses and struggles, and she with me, we can help each other to overcome our weaknesses, with the help of God. As we work together in unity, we are stronger and closer in our marriage. We have no secrets from each other.”

Elder Matthew L. Carpenter speaks during a BYU devotional held in the Marriott Center.
Elder Matthew L. Carpenter speaks during a devotional held in the Marriott Center on BYU’s Provo, Utah, campus on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023. | Joey Garrison, BYU

Honesty in school assignments and tests

Noting that final exams will proceed in a few weeks, Elder Carpenter said, “Brothers and sisters, school is about much more than getting a grade. It is about shaping you to be men and women who are not only proficient in your field of study, but — particularly from BYU — you are also men and women who are honest and true.”

To those who might be tempted to cheat on an assignment or exam, Elder Carpenter invited to consider Jesus Christ. 

“Do you think that the Savior of mankind cheated going through the Atonement? He paid the price for every sin for those who repent. That means He suffered for everyone. He did not take a shortcut. … He lovingly, dutifully, completed the assignment from Heavenly Father to take upon himself all our sins.”

Elder Carpenter assured: “Jesus Christ is not a cheater. Jesus Christ stands ready to lift and empower you as you are honest with Him and follow His direction.”

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