My last year in high school was beginning, and I was full of anticipation. Everything seemed to be pointing to a great year ahead.
For the first time, I was really interested in my classes, and I was determined to get my best grades ever. I had also just been put in the position of president of my seminary class, and had received a calling as first assistant in the priests quorum. In addition, I was developing a new photography hobby. I was also fellowshipping a good friend from work. Even the weather seemed exciting and refreshing.
But perhaps the most important thing to happen at the beginning of that school year was a decision I made to read the scriptures for half an hour each day.
I chose to read the New Testament, and I immediately became attached to it. Every day after school I would put away my school books, sit down at my desk in my room, and pull out my scriptures. Reading about the life of Christ every day gave me a real spiritual boost. But after the first week of this, trouble hit.
I came home from school that afternoon, opened my Bible to Matthew, and started reading. But something was different. I wasn’t feeling inspired, and I wasn’t getting any insight. I was just skimming and couldn’t seem to get involved in the passage. I stopped reading and looked up from the pages of the book.
“Wait a minute,” I thought. “What am I doing wrong?” Suddenly, a small episode from the long day at school entered my mind. Some nonmember friends and I had been sitting around talking about whatever came to mind. Soon what was coming to mind were inappropriate stories and jokes. And I had been a part of it. I had laughed and even made some inappropriate comments of my own.
The life of Christ hadn’t affected my actions, not then. As I hung my head over my scriptures, I refocused my eyes on the page and saw these words, found in Matthew:
“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
“For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” (Matt. 12:36–37.)
Never before had I received revelation through the scriptures or felt so strongly the concern of Heavenly Father. I knew that the Spirit had directed me to these words at this time. The answer to my question, “What am I doing wrong?” was simple. I had been reading the scriptures, marking the scriptures, and even really enjoying the scriptures; but I had not been living the scriptures. In some degree I was a little like the hypocritical Pharisees whom the Savior so often rebuked. I turned from my Bible and offered a prayer of repentance.
Although my answer was not accompanied by a booming voice or violent earthquake, its power was great enough to make me reevaluate myself. As I continued studying that year, each time I came across some new point of Jesus’ life in my reading, I would check myself in the same area. While there were a few areas that I didn’t have any trouble with, many others required changes in my personality, attitudes, and actions. As I did this, I began to like myself more.
With these new standards came blessings. It was amazing how taking a half hour from each day seemed to lengthen it so much. Since I began reading the scriptures and trying to live by Christ’s example, I noticed how different areas of my life began to blossom.
I was able to accomplish many of the goals I had set for myself and, to my surprise, I even got my best grades ever!