Strengthening Testimony through Obedience
“Lesson 27: Strengthening Testimony through Obedience,” Young Women Manual 2, 101
Each young woman will understand how obedience to the principles and ordinances of the gospel can increase her testimony.
1. Bring pencils for the class members.
2. Optional: Prepare posters to illustrate the cycles described in the Introduction.
3. Prepare for each young woman a handout with four headings written across the top: “What is a testimony?” “How can we obtain it?” “How can it be lost?” “What should we do?” Leave room for the young women to write under each heading.
4. Write these same headings on the chalkboard.
5. Optional: Assign a class member to present the ideas in the Introduction.
6. Assign young women to present any scriptures, stories, or quotations you wish.
SUGGESTED LESSON DEVELOPMENT
Explain that when the Lord created the earth, he provided for the physical well-being of his children. He created an element necessary to the sustaining of life—water.
Point out that water is constantly going through a cycle. As the sun shines on the oceans, lakes, and rivers, water evaporates. Then it falls to earth again as rain or snow. This rain or snow in turn evaporates, and the cycle begins again.
If you made a poster showing this cycle, display it, or draw the cycle on the chalkboard.
Explain that the Lord also provided for the spiritual well-being of his children. He gave them laws to help them gain eternal life. As they are obedient to his laws, they can gain a knowledge and a testimony of the truth.
Point out that a cycle operates as we obey these laws. When we obey, we gain knowledge and testimony. This testimony in turn increases our obedience, which brings greater knowledge and testimony. This cycle continues on and on, sustaining our spirits.
Display the poster you made to show the cycle of obedience and testimony, or draw this cycle on the chalkboard.
Point out that just as the water cycle supplies a physical need, the cycle of obedience and testimony fills a spiritual need.
Testimonies Are Obtained through Obedience
Chalkboard discussion and activity
Distribute the handouts you have prepared and the pencils. Ask the young women, “What is a testimony?” Write their answers on the chalkboard in the first column (see the sample chalkboard on the last page of the lesson). Instruct the young women to write the answers under the first heading on their papers.
Conclude the discussion by having one of the young women read the following definition: “Testimony … is an abiding, living, moving conviction of the truths revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ” (Marion G. Romney, “How to Gain a Testimony,” New Era, May 1976, p. 8; italics added).
At the bottom of the list of responses, write the summarizing statement, “Conviction of the truths of the gospel.” Have the young women write the same statement on their papers.
After establishing what a testimony is, ask the young women, “How can we obtain a testimony?” Write their answers in the second column on the chalkboard, and have them write the same answers on their papers under the second heading. Explain that one of the elements vital to obtaining a testimony is obedience. Point out that a testimony is available to anyone who strongly desires it and is willing to obey the commandments.
Have the class members find and mark John 7:17.
Ask the young women to explain the meaning of the scripture. Emphasize that obedience is doing the Lord’s will. This obedience is essential if we are to know the truth of the gospel. Obedience is the basis of testimony.
The following quotations from Church leaders reinforce the important link between obedience and testimony. Ask members of the class to read them aloud and discuss them.
1. “It is by the performance of the plain, simple, everyday duties that devolve upon us that we will grow in the spirit of God” (Heber J. Grant, in Conference Report, Apr. 1900, p. 22).
2. “If there are any of us who lack faith in this work it is because we have not kept the commandments of God. If there are any who do not know that this is the work of our Father, it is because they have not done their duty. I know as I know that I live that this is the Lord’s work and that knowledge comes as a result of keeping his commandments” (George Albert Smith, in Conference Report, Oct. 1915, pp. 27–28).
3. “A sure testimony is the most valuable possession a person can have. It gives him the knowledge, the hope, and the assurance that he himself can, through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel, become a partaker of all the promised blessings” (Marion G. Romney, “How to Gain a Testimony,” p. 9).
Refer to the chalkboard list of ideas on how to obtain a testimony. At the bottom of the list, write the second summarizing statement, “Obedience to the laws of God.” Have the young women write this statement on their papers.
Testimonies Are Weakened through Disobedience
Explain that having a testimony now does not ensure that we will always have one. Because a testimony can either grow or diminish, we need to guard against losing it.
Ask the young women, “How can a testimony be lost?” List their ideas on the chalkboard under the third heading. Ask them to make a similar list under the third heading on their papers. Point out that we can lose our testimonies when we cease to obey the commandments of God. Just as our testimonies grow when we keep the commandments, they become weak when we disobey.
Ask class members to read the following quotations:
1. “The testimony you have today will not be your testimony of tomorrow. Your testimony is either going to grow and grow until it becomes as the brightness of the sun, or it is going to diminish to nothing, depending on what you do about it” (Harold B. Lee, “When Your Heart Tells You Things Your Mind Does Not Know,” New Era, Feb. 1971, p. 3).
2. “Testimony isn’t something you have today, and you are going to have always. A testimony is fragile. It is as hard to hold as a moonbeam. It is something you have to recapture every day of your life” (Harold B. Lee, in J. M. Heslop, “Directs Church; Led by the Spirit,” Church News, 15 July 1972, p. 4).
At the end of the third list, write the third summarizing statement, “Disobedience to the laws of God.” Ask the young women to add the statement to their lists.
We Must Obey the Commandments to Strengthen Our Testimonies
Chalkboard discussion and activity
Ask the young women, “What should we do to strengthen our testimonies?” List their ideas on the chalkboard in the last column, and ask them to write the ideas on their papers. The list could be long and varied. Encourage the young women to suggest many specific ways to be obedient daily, individually or with friends and family.
Ask the young women to turn to Matthew 22:37–40. Read the scripture together, and discuss how the suggestions listed in the last column help fulfill these two great commandments. Then discuss additional ways in which the young women could strengthen their testimonies by being obedient to these two great commandments.
If time permits, relate the following examples of how some young people strengthened their testimonies and felt the joy of doing the Lord’s will:
1. “A group of high school seniors … worked on a special project side by side with some handicapped employees at a Deseret Industries plant. One young man said, ‘I’ll never be the same again.’
2. “While on their summer vacation a quorum of deacons in Australia decided to go all out as volunteer laborers on the construction of their new meetinghouse. They still refer to it as our building.
3. “A class of Laurel girls … selected a nearby hospital for volunteer service during the summer. They donated over 600 hours for others. In a testimony meeting at the end of the summer, one girl said, ‘It is like heaven on earth.’
4. “Then there was the bishop’s youth committee … that decided to fix up a widow’s home. One young man commented, ‘When I saw her cry, I decided then and there that I had finally found the key to real happiness.’ A girl commented, ‘I never knew till now what my teachers meant when they taught us about “pure religion and undefiled before God. …” ’ (James 1:27.)”
Elder Robert L. Simpson, who reported these experiences, concluded: “There are hundreds of such examples all over the Church as young people in every part of the world gain a sweet confirmation of testimony by the gift of the Spirit as they do his will. Just learning about it is not enough. You’ve got to get in on the action yourself” (“How to Gain and Hold onto Your Testimony,” New Era, Mar. 1972, p. 6).
At the end of the list in the fourth column, write the fourth summarizing statement, “Obedience strengthens testimony.” Have the young women write it on their papers.
What is a testimony?
Read the following statement: “Every Latter-day Saint must gain a firm testimony for himself—a personal knowledge that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of the living God, that Joseph Smith is the prophet through whom the gospel has been restored, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is ‘… the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth. …’ (D&C 1:30.)
“Anyone can acquire this testimony by following the established procedure by which the Lord gives a testimony. There are no shortcuts. A desire to know is imperative. To learn the doctrine is essential. To do his will will sanctify that teaching in your heart” (Robert L. Simpson, “How to Gain and Hold onto Your Testimony,” p. 6).
1. Ask the young women to keep the notes they have made in class today. Suggest that they review them from time to time to evaluate the strength of their testimonies.
2. Ask the young women to list on a separate piece of paper personal items they might like to work on in order to strengthen their testimonies. They might want to keep such lists confidential and strive to improve individually, or they might wish to share them with their parents, friends, teachers at Church, or the bishop in an effort to be more obedient and enjoy the blessing of a strengthened testimony.