“And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;
“And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;
“And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.
“And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them.” (D&C 89:18–21. Italics added.)
This is one of the most all-inclusive promises the Lord has given us, and who is there who would not like to receive these great blessings? We so often think of this promise as connected with the Word of Wisdom, but you will note that the Lord says “walking in obedience to the commandments,” which would include all the commandments.
Some may say this is too much to expect. But surely if we pause to think of the rewards of obedience and the penalties of disobedience, there is no one who would not say that he would rather enjoy happiness than misery. Too often, I fear, we disobey and seek to satisfy our worldly pleasures and desires because we think we may escape the judgment and penalties, which are not always immediately meted out to us, and we forget the great blessings and promises that would be ours if we were obedient.
This is the beginning of another year. A poet has expressed it thus:
“Upon the threshold of another year
We stand again.
We know not what of gladness and good cheer,
Of grief or pain
May visit us while journeying to its close.
In this we rest,
God dealeth out in wisdom what He knows
For us is best.”
It is so important for us to prepare ourselves for the things that will happen in our lives. We must look forward with optimism and confidence. We can gain nothing by brooding over the past or the things we should have done but did not. Rather, we must decide that from this point on we will correct our mistakes, repent, and go forward with a determination to walk in obedience to the commandments, which can only make us happier, more loved and respected, and more successful in any field of endeavor.
We review the past only to see where we have made mistakes and where we might improve. When we become satisfied with what we have accomplished, we begin to deteriorate. We either progress or retrogress. Let us not meet the fate of the bricklayer, who from a high scaffold stepped back to admire his work.
Now as we look back in retrospect, we might ask ourselves: Have I made the progress I should have? Did I really work to reach my goals? If we cannot answer affirmatively, then we should resolve to do better from this moment on. We should make definite plans to set new goals, and outline a course by which they may be reached, keeping in mind that eternal life should be the ultimate goal for each of us.
The gospel offers us the only way to eternal life, and whenever accepted, a new era in life begins. The glorious principle of repentance makes it possible for each of us to be born again and to go forward in the knowledge that our sins are forgiven, and we can now begin to strive for that perfection which will bring the promised reward. We are told: “… except ye repent ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of heaven.” (Alma 5:51.)
In making our resolutions, or setting our goals, we might well ask ourselves the following questions, keeping in mind our ultimate objective:
What kind of person am I?
What kind of person would I like to be?
What am I doing to accomplish this, and what am I doing that is keeping me from being that kind of person?
How can I overcome?
President Joseph F. Smith gave the following counsel:
“Let us conquer ourselves, and then go to and conquer all the evil that we see around us, as far as we possibly can. And we will do it without using violence; we will do it without interfering with the agency of men or of women. We will do it by persuasion, by long-suffering, by patience, and by forgiveness and love unfeigned, by which we will win the hearts, the affections and the souls of the children of men to the truth as God has revealed it to us. We will never have peace, nor justice, nor truth, until we look to the only true fountain for it and receive from the fountainhead.” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [Deseret Book Co., 1939], pp. 253–54.)
“Let every man live so that his character will bear the closest inspection, and that it may be seen as an open book, so that he will have nothing to shrink from or be ashamed of. Let all men who are elevated to positions of trust in the Church live so that no man can point to their faults, because they will have no faults; so that no man can justly accuse them of wrongdoing, because they do no wrong; that no man can point out their defects as ‘human’ and as ‘weak mortals,’ because they are living up to the principles of the Gospel, and are not merely ‘weak human creatures’ devoid of the Spirit of God and the power to live above sin. That is the way for all men to live in the kingdom of God.” (Conference Report, October 1906, pp. 8–9.)
The time is now. This is the day, the hour, the moment for each of us to resolve to do better in the future than we have done in the past.
“Let every one get a knowledge for himself that this work is true. … Then let every person say, ‘I will live my religion. … I will walk humbly before God, and deal honestly with my fellow-beings.’” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 8, p. 142.)
May each of us enjoy a happier, brighter, more meaningful future, with love and peace abounding in each heart and home.