Articles of Faith: Do You Want to Copy My Homework?


“We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”—A of F 1:13
At my school, it was common to copy each other’s homework. I didn’t know that what I chose to do would be setting an example.

I sank into my seat for geometry just before the bell rang. That was close. I was still learning how to navigate the halls of my new high school. I pulled out my math homework and began rummaging through my backpack for a pencil.

“Psst … Sherilyn,” the guy behind me hissed.

I turned around to face Gary, a guy I had talked to only a few times since the beginning of the school year. We were in the same Spanish class later in the day, but I didn’t know him well.

“What?” I asked.

“Do you have your Spanish book with you?” he inquired.

A sinking realization hit me as I pictured my Spanish book where I had left it on my bedroom floor.

“Sorry, I don’t have it with me,” I replied. “I left it at home.”

“Oh, okay.”

“You know, I totally forgot to do the homework,” I remarked, frowning.

My Spanish teacher consistently checked to see if everyone had done the homework. “There goes another zero for me,” I thought. “Just what I need at the start of the year.”

“Do you want to copy mine?” he asked.

Copying homework was common at this school, and no one thought anything of it. You could walk down the halls and see people sprawled on the floor, blatantly copying their friends’ work. He was trying to be friendly, I’m sure, but I couldn’t do that. It would be dishonest, and I wouldn’t feel right doing it.

“Thanks, but no thanks. I wouldn’t really feel comfortable doing that,” I said.

He paused for a moment, smiled at me, and then he said something I will never forget: “I didn’t think you would. Actually, I didn’t even do mine.”

So what was he doing? Trying to test me? I was actually surprised that he would know enough about me to know I wouldn’t copy his work. It was only the second week of school, and I hadn’t known him the previous year.

“You’re Mormon, aren’t you?” he asked.

I said yes. We talked for a few minutes, and then our teacher started the class. I reflected on this incident for the rest of the day. I’d only talked to this guy a few times, yet somehow he knew that I, a new freshman in a school of more than 2,000, was a member of the Church. How?

Then I had another thought. What if I had accepted his offer? Not only would it have made me look stupid, because he hadn’t even done the homework, but how would that have affected his idea of how Mormons behave?

That experience made me sit a little taller the rest of the year. I knew he was watching me and that other people I didn’t even know were watching as well.

[Seek the Good]

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

Surely we live in troubled times, but we can seek and obtain the good despite Satan’s temptations and snares. He cannot tempt us beyond our power to resist. (See 1 Cor. 10:13.) When we seek ‘anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy,’ we are seeking to emulate the Savior and follow his teachings. Then we are on the path that can lead us to eternal life.” —Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Seeking the Good,” Ensign, May 1992, 88.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Dilleen Marsh