The sum of our decisions …

“The Spoken Word” from Temple Square, presented over KSL and the Columbia Broadcasting System October 18, 1970 © 1970.

“No one can ask honestly or hope fully to be delivered from temptation,” said John Ruskin, “unless he has himself honestly and firmly determined to do the best he can to keep out of it.” 1 Many who find themselves in trouble and regret say that it was circumstances, or the influence of someone else, or that the blame lies largely outside themselves, which may be true—or partly so. It is true that there are always circumstances and influences outside ourselves. No one lives in a vacuum. We are all played upon by other people. We are influenced by the moral and physical atmosphere in which we live our lives. But there is something else that is also true—that we, ourselves, must make our choices; that we must decide, and take our share of responsibilities for our decisions—for added to all the outside influences are the inner influences—the personal standards, the personal commitment; the determination to do what we shouldn’t do. Ultimately we become the sum of our decisions—the sum of what we decide. And one thing that is quite unsafe is to leave the door open for anything to enter—to leave the wrong options open. It takes character to turn away from temptation. It takes character to turn away from an enticing evil. But when a person decides to go half way or just a little the wrong way, he may find that he can’t stop where he thought he could. It comes down pretty much to deciding what we will or won’t do—and then staying with our standards. It sounds oversimplified, and it is; but too often those who get into trouble do so with some degree of consent. They entertain the idea; they leave the wrong options open. “No one can ask honestly or hope fully to be delivered from temptation unless he has himself honestly and firmly determined to do the best he can to keep out of it.” It is as John Oxenham said it:

“To every man there openeth …
A High Way and a Low.
And every man decideth
The way his soul shall go.” 2
  1.   1.

    John Ruskin, NDT 665.

  2.   2.

    John Oxenham, “The Ways.”

You can go on …

“The Spoken Word” from Temple Square, presented over KSL and the Columbia Broadcasting System October 25, 1970 ©1970.

There are many in this world who live heroically in simple, daily, faithful service—people often unknown; often unnoticed; often discouraged; sometimes tried and tempted; sometimes feeling they must give up, that they can’t go on—and yet they do go on, and, against discouragement, do their duty, daily: mothers abandoned, widowed, left with children; fathers left alone—grandmothers—children who care for each other. There are those who have little to live on, little relatively to brighten their lives, and yet do what they can with a loyal sense of duty. There are those who love and cherish and care for impaired children; those who faithfully care for dependent parents; those who care for loved ones who are long ill and dependent upon them; those who provide tender care, who perform essential tasks, with problems and disappointments, under difficult and discouraging conditions—weary hours, inconvenience, extra effort, going without, enduring difficulties. And life goes on as well as it does because there are those who do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, often against difficulty and discouragement. Oh, you who have illness; people dependent upon you—you who stay with loved ones in loyalty—you who are discouraged in your work—you who are disappointed in others, in yourselves, in circumstances—you who feel you have little of the brightness of life—trust; have faith; do the best you can. Don’t give up. Don’t walk out on life. Don’t leave loved ones. There may be a feeling of frustration in doing what you are doing, but there can be a greater frustration in not doing what is yours to do. To you who give humble daily, faithful service—often unnoticed, often discouraged, sometimes feeling you can’t go on: You can. Others have—and do. Meet the events of each day, and satisfactions will come in ways you do not know. God bless you—and thanks to all of you who give such service.