Sunday, August 17, 2014

Steadfast and Immovable

One of the great Book of Mormon kings was King Benjamin. At the end of his days he gave one of the greatest sermons on what it means to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ and to be born again of him as we covenant to live the life that Christ lived, in the service to all of Heavenly Father’s children. The last thing he said to his people after they had entered in to this covenant was:

Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all. Amen. (Mosiah 5:15)

What does it mean to be steadfast and immovable? Elder David A. Bednar speaking to the students at BYU-Idaho explained what it meant. He said:

“The word “steadfast” is used to connote fixed or secure in position, solid and firm in substance, unshaken, and resolute (Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition, Vol. VII, pp. 689-690).  The word “immovable” is used to indicate that a person or thing is not subject to change, unalterable, and firmly fixed; it also suggests the quality of being unyielding and incapable of being diverted from one’s purpose (Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition, Vol XVI, p. 589).  Thus, a person who is steadfast and immovable is solid, firm, resolute, firmly fixed, and incapable of being diverted from a primary purpose or mission.” (“Steadfast and Immovable”, David A. Bednar, BYU-Idaho Devotional, September 9, 2003)

He then uses Aesop’s fable “The Hare and the Tortoise” to teach the principle that slow and steady will always win the race:

“What is the implication of this simple but profound fable?  Slow but steady wins the race.  The tortoise made consistent and persistent progress on the prescribed course, displayed a determined sense of direction and discipline, and exhibited both strength and stamina.  This modest creature was a model of being firmly fixed and resolute in his strategy of steadiness in the race against the hare.”

How do we become steadfast and immovable? Elder Bednar outlined six things that we need to do:

1.              A solid foundation with Jesus Christ as our foundation
2.              Belief in the Prophets and their writings in the Scriptures
3.              Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ
4.              Repentance
5.              A mighty change of heart
6.              Firm and steadfast in the faith

Elder Bednar then provides several examples of the blessings that come from being steadfast and immovable. He said:

Let me repeat and reinforce this first great blessing associated with being a steadfast and immovable disciple of the Savior; such a follower of Christ consistently is focused upon and striving to understand the fundamental and foundational doctrines of the restored gospel.

“Second, as we become more spiritually mature and increasingly steadfast and immovable, we are less prone to zealous and exaggerated spurts of spirituality followed by extended periods of slackness.  Recall the tortoise in Aesop’s fable to whom I referred earlier as an example of steadiness and persistence.  The hare, on the other hand, is a classic example of a “spurter”- one who is given to short bursts of spectacular effort followed by frequent and lengthy periods of rest.

“A spurt may appear to be impressive in the short run, but steadiness over time is far more effective, far less dangerous, and produces far better results.  Three consecutive days of fasting ultimately may not be as spiritually effective as three successive months of appropriate fasting and worship on the designated fast Sunday.  An attempt to pray one time for five hours likely will not produce the spiritual results of meaningful morning and evening prayer offered consistently over five weeks.  And a single scripture-reading marathon cannot produce the spiritual impact of steady scripture study across many months.”

Another blessing that Elder Bednar talks about is illustrated from the parable of the ten virgins. He quotes from President Spencer W. Kimball:

The foolish [virgins] asked the others to share their oil, but spiritual preparedness cannot be shared in an instant.  The wise had to go, else the bridegroom would have gone unwelcomed.  They needed all their oil for themselves; they could not save the foolish.  The responsibility was each for himself.

This was not selfishness or unkindness.  The kind of oil that is needed to illuminate the way and light up the darkness is not shareable.  How can one share obedience to the principle of tithing; a mind at peace from righteous living; an accumulation of knowledge?  How can one share faith or testimony? How can one share attitudes or chastity, or the experience of a mission?  How can one share temple privileges?  Each must obtain that kind of oil for himself.
The foolish virgins were not averse to buying oil.  They knew they should have oil.  They merely procrastinated, not knowing when the bridegroom would come.

In the parable, oil can be purchased at the market.  In our lives, the oil of preparedness is accumulated drop by drop in righteous living.  Attendance at sacrament meetings adds oil to our lamps, drop by drop over the years.  Fasting,
family prayer, home teaching, control of bodily appetites, preaching the gospel, studying the scriptures- each act of dedication and obedience is a drop added to our store.  Deeds of kindness, payment of offerings and tithes, chaste thoughts and actions, marriage in the covenant for eternity-these, too, contribute importantly to the oil with which we can, at midnight, refuel our exhausted lamps. (Faith Precedes the Miracle, pp. 255-256)

Again he says, “consistent, reliable preparation and performance wins the race and provides the essential oil for our lamps”. There are two verses in the Hymn “How Firm a Foundation” that illustrate this principle:

Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!
(Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, No. 85, v. 3, 7)

In today’s tumultuous world having a firm foundation based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and continuing to be steadfast and immoveable in keeping the commandments of God and making and keeping temple covenants will help ensure that we along with our children will have an inheritance in the Kingdom of God here on the earth and the Kingdom of God when Christ returns to reign.

Your comments are always welcome.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments will be reviewed prior to them being posted. I invite questions and comments, but will not post offensive or argumentative comments. Comments that are appropriate will be posted as soon as possible.