“What Will You Choose?” Elder Nelson Asks Young Adults
By Marianne Holman, Church News staff writer
Young adults of the Church are to be the standard bearers of the Lord and beacons of light to attract others to Christ, Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve said during a Church Educational System devotional held in the Cannon Activities Center on the campus of BYU–Hawaii on September 8. The devotional—intended for young adults both single and married—was available in many different languages throughout the world via the Internet.
“Each one of you young men and young women was commissioned by your Heavenly Father to build up the kingdom of God on earth right now and prepare a people to receive the Savior when He will rule and reign as the millennial Messiah,” Elder Nelson said. “Your noble birthright, identity, purpose, and divine commission set you apart from all others.”
Although birthright and premortal ordinations are important, neither of them will save or exalt someone, Elder Nelson said. That is done “through your individual decisions and as you choose to access the power of the Lord’s Atonement in your lives. You know that ‘every soul is free to choose his life and what he’ll be.’ That great eternal principle of agency is vital to our Father’s plan. So, you youth of the noble birthright, what will you choose?”
Elder Nelson posed eight questions for the “youth of the noble birthright” and expounded upon how the Lord would have them act.
1. What will you choose to increase in learning?
“Education is yours to obtain,” he said. “No one else can gain it for you. Wherever you are, develop a deep desire to learn. For us as Latter-day Saints, getting an education is not just a privilege; it is a religious responsibility. The glory of God is intelligence. Indeed, our education is for the eternities.”
Such a long-range perspective will help individuals make good choices about learning.
“Brothers and sisters, don’t be afraid to pursue your goals—even your dreams!” he said. “There is no shortcut to excellence and competence. Education is the difference between wishing you could help other people and being able to help them.
2. What manner of living will you choose?
“You as youth of the noble birthright are expected to live differently than others. … Choose to think and to act differently from those of the world,” he said. “Choose to look different and see what an influence for good you will become.”
Youth of the noble birthright have a great start in life, but with that comes added responsibility, Elder Nelson said.
“Part of that requirement is to be a recruit. Have you ever thought of yourself as an army recruit? When you were baptized, you were actually reenlisting in the Lord’s army.”
Just as choosing good in the premortal existence was important, so too is it for individuals today.
“The conflict between the forces of good and evil continues here on earth. It is real! That conflict in which we are now engaged is still between the forces of good and the forces of evil,” he said.
God’s plan allows the adversary to tempt individuals so that they, while in this mortal world, can exercise their agency to choose good over evil, to choose to repent, and to choose to come unto Jesus Christ and follow His example.
3. Will you establish priorities to help make choices in life?
“Your choices will not all be between good and evil,” Elder Nelson said. “Many will be choices between two good options. Not all truths are created equal. So you will need to establish priorities. In your pursuit of knowledge, know that the very most important truth you can learn comes from the Lord. …
“Above everything else you are seeking to learn, seek to know God, your Heavenly Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ. Come to know Them and love Them as I do.”
More than anything in this world, Elder Nelson said, individuals will want to make choices that lead to the ultimate and glorious destiny of eternal life. That is God’s greatest goal, and choosing eternal life should be an individual’s highest priority.
“Choose eternal life as your highest priority and notice how other choices fall into place,” he said.
4. With whom will you choose to associate?
“As youth of the noble birthright, you will mingle with many good people who also believe in God,” he said. “Whether they be Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, or Islam, believers know there actually is absolute truth.”
Mentioning a CES devotional talk given by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency earlier this year, Elder Nelson said, “He stressed that there really is right and wrong, and the willful breaking of one of God’s commandments really is sin. Believers in God also have a conscience. Believers obey civil and divine law voluntarily, even laws that otherwise might be unenforceable.”
Believers are committed to obeying civil and divine law, not out fear of being caught or seen by someone else, but because the unlawful acts are wrong.
“As you move along in life’s journey, you will also become acquainted with people who do not believe in God,” he said. “Many of them have not yet found divine truth and don’t know where to look for it. But you youth of the noble birthright are coming to their rescue. In great numbers, you are rallying to the call of God’s prophet for more missionaries. … As you mingle with nonbelievers, be aware that there may be a few that will not have your best interest at heart. As soon as you discern that, flee from them quickly and permanently.”
5. Will you choose freedom or bondage?
“Godless forces are all around,” he said. “You are literally living in ‘enemy occupied territory.’ A plague of poisonous pornography abounds. It ensnares all who yield to its insidious grasp.”
Elder Nelson said that there are many forces seeking to destroy lives and happiness. “If you, brothers and sisters, are viewing pornography, stop it. Stop it right now. Stop it absolutely. It is as destructive as leprosy, as addictive as meth and as corrosive as lye. … Avoid that bondage, my beloved friends. ... Seek help from your bishop. None are smart enough to outwit the adversary on their own, once they have been poisoned by pornography.”
6. Will you choose to follow the Lord or the philosophies of men?
Issues surrounding society today—unemployment, choosing to not have children, questioning the definition of marriage—are all pulling people away from the truths of the gospel.
“If you have a question about the position of the Church on … [any] important issue, prayerfully ponder it, then heed the prophetic messages at this forthcoming October general conference of the Church,” he said. “Those inspired addresses, plus inspiration from the Holy Ghost, will bring a fuller and truer understanding to your mind.”
Elder Nelson advised listeners to keep studying the scriptures and doing things that build one’s faith in Jesus Christ. As individuals do so, they are naturally drawn to make wise choices.
7. How will you prepare for your personal interview with the Savior?
“You youth of the noble birthright are not perfect yet,” he said. “None of us are. So, you, along with the rest of us, are very grateful for the Atonement of the Savior, that provides full forgiveness as you truly repent.”
Each day on earth is an opportunity to take the time to prepare for the interview all will have with the Savior on Judgment Day. Divine aids including the Holy Ghost, scriptures, patriarchal blessings, and living prophets are all guides in helping individuals choose well.
“As you choose to live on the Lord’s side, you are never alone. God has given you access to His help while you move along mortality’s perilous pathway. As you diligently, earnestly pour your heart out to Him in daily prayer, He will send His angels to help you.”
8. In whom will you put your trust?
“You youth of the noble birthright know that God is your Father,” he said. “He loves you. He wants you to be happy. Put your trust in Him. Maintain your focus on His holy temple. Be worthy to receive your endowment and sealing ordinances. Remain faithful to those covenants and return frequently to the temple. Remember, your loftiest goal is to gain the greatest of all the blessings of God, that of eternal life. Ordinances of the temple are essential to that blessing.”
It is through putting trust in the Lord that all will find out their identity, purpose, and blessing as a youth of the noble birthright.
“Yes, you truly are the youth of the noble birthright, created in God’s image,” he said. “You are His lawful heirs, here to be tried and tested. You may choose to be a light to the world, to help save God’s children, to have joy, and ultimately earn the blessing of eternal life.”