LDS Leader Shares 3 Lessons for Greater Joy
Contributed By Marianne Holman Prescott, Church News staff writer
- To feel love, joy, and peace, we must do the “small things” that bring the Spirit into our lives.
Through doing the “small things” and trusting in the Lord, a person is able to find love, joy, peace, and happiness regardless of his or her circumstances, Brother Brian K. Ashton, Second Counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency, told students at Brigham Young University during a campus devotional on December 5.
Brother Ashton shared three lessons to help a person find greater joy in life—and ultimately obtain exaltation with Heavenly Father.
“True happiness comes from having the Spirit in our lives and cultivating an eternal perspective, and thus happiness is not dependent upon our circumstances.”
“Another way to say this is that having love, joy, and peace in our lives, families, and marriages does not come from a big house, nice cars, the latest clothing, career success, or any of the other things that the world says bring happiness,” he said. “In fact, because feelings of love, joy, and peace come from the Spirit, feeling them doesn’t have to be connected to our temporal circumstances at all. Thus, even in our most difficult circumstances it is possible to be happy.”
Using the Savior as the ultimate example, Brother Ashton pointed out that just hours before His Atonement and all the difficulties that would come with that experience, Jesus told His Apostles to “be of good cheer.”
“Please understand that I am not saying that we will always be happy or that our temporal circumstances never affect our happiness,” he said. “In fact, if we do not taste the bitter, we cannot know the sweet. We need to struggle at times.”
Brother Ashton taught that there are some physical and emotional conditions, such as clinical depression, that can cause great suffering and make it difficult for a person to feel the Spirit.
“But if we are striving to have the Spirit in our lives and trusting God, we can, in general, be happy,” he said.
Satan offers counterfeit alternatives to all that God does in an attempt to confuse and deceive. Satan has been trying to deceive people for a long time and is very good at it, Brother Ashton taught.
“Speaking of our day, Jesus told His disciples in Jerusalem, ‘For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect,’” he said.
Sharing a story of a woman who, after serving as an outstanding missionary, returned home intending to do all the “little things” that had brought the Spirit into her life and had strengthened her on her mission. After watching her friends live a life of “fun” things, she decided to join in and stopped doing the little things that had brought spiritual strength to her on her mission. She still had a testimony and attended Church meetings, but spiritually she was “inactive.”
After choosing to live “as the world lives,” her bad choices continued.
“Her unrighteous choices eventually caught up with her,” he said. “She wasn’t happy, and she knew it. Fortunately, my friend recognized that she had been deceived, and she repented.”
The young woman’s story shows that even the best of people can be deceived and become confused about the source of true happiness, Brother Ashton taught.
“Furthermore, her story points out that we must constantly guard against being deceived by doing the little things that bring the Spirit into our lives.”
Recognizing a few of Satan’s tactics, Brother Ashton spoke of simple ways the adversary tries to deceive the faithful—prioritizing temporal things over spiritual things, distracting people from pondering, convincing a person their outward actions matter more than inward motivations, and the belief that joy and happiness come from having an easy life or from simply having fun all the time.
“When we lack the proper motivations in doing spiritual things, we fail to experience the joy of the gospel,” he said. “As a result, keeping the commandments starts to feel like drudgery, and Satan knows that if he can get us to feel this way, we are likely to stop doing what we know we should. Now, it’s never OK to not keep the commandments. When we lack in proper motivation, we still keep the commandments and pray with real intent to change our hearts.”
The last distraction Brother Ashton spoke of was that Satan tries to convince people that wickedness, with its temporary pleasures, really is happiness.
“For example, Satan gives us lust in place of love. He gives us excitement instead of joy. Satan gives us distraction rather than peace. He gives us self-righteousness, zealotry, and political correctness in lieu of goodness. And in this confusion, we may begin to think that breaking the commandments will bring happiness.”
“It is usually small things that bring the Spirit into our lives, keep us from being deceived, and ultimately help us obtain the strength to keep the commandments and gain eternal life. …
“Doing the small things consistently, like praying and studying the scriptures daily, brings the Spirit into our lives, keeps us from being deceived, and gives us the strength to obtain eternal life,” Brother Ashton said.