Peace had come to the people of Zarahemla, along with a great flowering of spirituality. Tens of thousands joined the Church as the work of the Lord progressed at an astonishing pace (see Hel. 3:24–26). Part of the reason for this wonderful era was the purity of the hearts of the members of the Church (see Hel. 3:27, 35).
Chapter 3 of the book of Helaman outlines the process that the people of Zarahemla followed to experience this purifying. It states that they “were baptized unto repentance” (Hel. 3:24). They apparently exemplified the qualities of those with whom the Lord is pleased—those who “believe on the name of Jesus Christ” and “lay hold upon the word of God” and thus “land their souls … at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven” (Hel. 3:28–30). Humility was a prerequisite, as were fasting and prayer (see Hel. 3:35).
These are among the things we must do, too, as we try to purify our hearts and lives. Of course, the most important aspect of the purification process is the atonement of Jesus Christ. No effort on our part would bring us the purity we seek if Christ had not atoned for our sins. But if we are truly repentant and strive to keep our covenants, the Savior’s atonement washes us clean and enables the Holy Ghost to purify our hearts (see 3 Ne. 27:19–20).
Jesus Christ also serves as our exemplar. President Howard W. Hunter said: “We should at every opportunity ask ourselves, ‘What would Jesus do?’ and then act more courageously upon the answer. … We should make every effort to become like Christ, the one perfect and sinless example this world has ever seen” (Ensign, Nov. 1994, p. 87).
Jesus reminded the Pharisees that love of God is the first and great commandment and that love of others is “like unto it” (see Matt. 22:37–40). Paul pointed out that this love must be given “out of a pure heart” (1 Tim. 1:5). The poor widow who cast her two mites into the treasury had this quality. The Savior held up as an example her willingness to give all she had (see Mark 12:42–44).
There are many today who exhibit this same purity of heart. Sister Bonnie Hammond tells of a sister who joined the Church in Bolivia when she served with her husband, Elder F. Melvin Hammond (now of the Seventy), as he presided over the mission there. “She became very faithful,” Sister Hammond says. “She paid a full tithe. She fasted twenty-four hours once a month. I was impressed to see her climb the foothills of the Andes Mountains with swollen arthritic ankles to visit teach her assigned eleven sisters. She never missed visiting them each month. Even though it was not required, she chose to go the extra mile; if one sister was not at home, she would climb the mountain again to visit her.
“She knew the Savior, the Good Shepherd. She knew she was a shepherd, too, and she fed her sheep with the pure, beautiful gospel of Jesus Christ.”
The only way to purify our hearts is to receive the ordinances of the gospel and follow the Master in word, deed, and thought. Some may become discouraged thinking they have not yet received the blessing of a pure heart. But as long as we approach the Savior with “a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (2 Ne. 2:7), we can be assured that his atonement has the power to cleanse our lives and purify our hearts.
“Sanctify yourselves; yea, purify your hearts, and cleanse your hands and your feet before me, that I may make you clean” (D&C 88:74).
How are our hearts purified through the power of the Atonement?
How do we know whether our hearts are pure before the Lord?
What are some things that can help us increase in purity?