There is a story about a young builder who had just gone into business for himself. A wealthy friend of his father came to him and said: “To help get you established, I am going to have you build a house for me. Here are the plans. Don’t spare expenses. I want the very finest materials used, and I want the best workmanship. Forget the cost. Just send me the bills.”
The young builder became obsessed with the desire to enrich himself through this generous and unrestricted offer. Instead of employing the best laborers and buying the finest materials, he cheated his benefactor in every way possible. Finally, the last poor-quality nail was driven into the last poor-quality wall, and the builder handed over the keys and bills to his father’s old friend. That gentleman wrote a check to pay for the full cost of building the house and then handed the keys back to the builder. “The home you have just built,” he said with a pleasant smile, “is my present to you. May you live in it in great happiness!”
If this young builder had thought about the consequences of his dishonest thoughts and acts, perhaps he would have come to a clear understanding of what Jesus so long ago described:
“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
“And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
“And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
“And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it” (Matt. 7:24–27).
My young friends, each of you has been given the opportunity to build a beautiful life. To a large extent, the kind of life you build is up to you. May I offer you a suggestion about how to build it right?
The key to building a good life is to base that life on Christ and his teachings, to “[hear] these sayings of mine, and [do] them.”
If we live the principles of the gospel, we are the fulfillment of the Savior’s pronouncement: “Ye are the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14). And possessing this light, we can shine among our fellowmen through our lives and deeds, influencing them to glorify our Father in Heaven.
Jesus wants every one of us to know him because of the transforming power of that knowledge and because of the indescribable joy it brings into our lives. But the influence of the gospel is to extend beyond each individual. It is to be as a light that dispels the darkness from the lives of those around us. No one is saved solely and simply for himself alone, just as no lamp is lighted merely for its own benefit.
In Section 39 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord tells James Covill, a recent convert, that if he will truly accept and live the gospel, then he will receive “the Comforter, which showeth all things, and teacheth the peaceable things of the kingdom” (D&C 39:6)
He is further promised “that power shall rest upon thee; thou shalt have great faith, and I will be with thee and go before thy face” (D&C 39:12).
This same promise extends to all who are faithful. If we build our lives on service to others and to the Lord, we are promised the help of the master builder. And he knows, far better than we do, all that we need to make our life complete.
On another occasion Jesus said, “I stand at the door, and knock” (Rev. 3:20). Unless we open the door and permit him to come into our lives, he can’t enter. Only in accepting our Savior and doing his will do we acquire the feeling to continually do right.
Inherent in the first principles of the gospel is the “desire principle”—the desire to love God and fellowmen “with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matt. 22:37). Each of us must work in harmony with God’s will and create a spiritual climate that will bring Jesus into the midst of our lives; and then we must continue to live “with an eye single to [his] glory” (D&C 4:5).
In our religion and our wonderful Church, age does not divide us; rather, eternal principles unite us. As you are building your life, your belief in Jesus Christ and his gospel will guide you the same way that it guides those of us who are still finishing our building.
Christ summarized some of these principles in a most dramatic manner, as recorded in the scriptures: “One came and said unto him, … what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?”
What individual would not yearn to know, or give anything he possessed, for the answer to that question, especially if it came from the Lord himself?
And here it is: “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” Note the magical words, “If thou wilt enter into life.” Enter into life, indeed! Is not that the real quest of each of us? Seriously, is there any other?
When asked what he meant by “keep the commandments,” Jesus said, “Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness”—and then fall the positive, glorious admonitions, “Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matt. 19:16–19).
What a magnificent blueprint for life at its best! These commandments and all that they encompass constitute a glorious challenge and an unassailable fortress against evil. They involve the use of time in the best and highest sense and will certainly safeguard our integrity and morality and help us be a good example. This is the kind of life building that is possible for Latter-day Saints.
In Joseph Smith’s day, Church members were troubled about how permanently they were to build their houses. They had often moved from place to place. But the Prophet told them, “Build as if you are going to stay forever.”
There is a great lesson to be learned by all of us in a careful study of our history. The success of our Church may be attributed to our faith in God and to our being led under the inspired guidance of strong and devoted leaders, never taking the shortcuts, and keeping Jesus and his divine teachings dynamically in our midst.
If we build our life with and for our Savior, we will build it from the best materials and with the best effort we can give. We won’t cheat on study or training or diligence or obedience. We won’t misrepresent what we’re trying to build and we won’t try to take advantage of our benefactor, who has given us a marvelous opportunity. We will wish to build something noble and solid, something worthy of the trust we have been given.
In building such a life, we will bless not only ourselves but others. And when our building is complete, it will be magnificent.