What is it that motivates thousands of Latter-day Saints to leave home, school, and work to serve missions? To take time to serve in temples? To make rearing righteous families their top priority? To serve in a multitude of ways that enrich the lives of others?
One major reason is covenants. A covenant is a sacred, enduring contract and promise. It may be between God and an individual, such as the covenants we make at baptism, during the sacrament, or in the temple. Or it may be between God and a group of people, such as God’s promises to Abraham and Sarah and their righteous posterity. (See Abr. 2:8–11; Gen. 17:19.) For each covenant, the Lord outlines the blessings we can obtain and the things we must do to merit those blessings.
We find “the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel” (1 Ne. 13:23) in the scriptures. The Lord tells us that the Book of Mormon is a covenant for Latter-day Saints “to do according to that which I have written” (D&C 84:57), and he defines the gospel as the new and everlasting covenant (see D&C 22:1; D&C 66:2).
As Latter-day Saints, we make many covenants. At baptism, we commit to become witnesses before the Lord that we “will serve him and keep his commandments.” (Mosiah 18:10.) Each Sunday thereafter we partake of the sacrament to witness again that we will “always remember him and keep his commandments.” (D&C 20:77.)
“If … you live a normal life span, you will probably renew the sacrament covenant more than 3,000 times before you die. That covenant must be highly important to the Lord or he would not ask us to repeat it so often. But if we make the same covenant that many times and then fail to keep it, what will he say to us when we meet him? On the other hand, if we keep it, we will obtain those blessings which are ’the most desirable above all things.’” (H. Verlan Andersen, New Era, Apr. 1989, p. 6.)
Keeping our covenants helps us become more Christlike. For example, Kathleen McGuire of the Brighton Eighth Ward, Salt Lake Brighton Stake, keeps her covenants by lifting the burdens of her neighbors. She frequently cares for her aging mother, visits a homebound sister, strengthens a recently divorced sister, and listens compassionately to the frustrations of a mother of a learning-disabled child.
Keeping our covenants can also influence our attitudes about Church service. Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve tells of a released stake president who said, “I was happy to accept the call to serve as stake president, and I am equally happy to accept my release. I did not serve just because I was under call. I served because I am under covenant. And I can keep my covenants quite as well as a home teacher as I can serving as stake president.”
Elder Packer said: “This president understood the word covenant. … [He] had learned that exaltation is achieved by keeping covenants, not by holding high position. …
“Ordinances and covenants become our credentials for admission into the Lord’s presence,” Elder Packer continues. “To worthily receive them is the quest of a lifetime; to keep them thereafter is the challenge of mortality.” (Ensign, May 1987, p. 24.)
Discuss how gospel covenants can give direction to our lives.
Share your feelings about how the covenants you have made have helped you. Ask the sister you are visiting if she would feel comfortable in also sharing her feelings about covenants.
See Family Home Evening Resource Book, pp. 52–63, 120–23 for related materials.