Saturday, October 29, 2016

Boyd K. Packer on the freedom and choice to be obedient

President Boyd K. Packer (1924-2015) served as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve (a position that no longer exists) from 1961 to 1970, when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.  He served as president of that Quorum from 1994 until his death on July 3, 2015 at age 90.
"I am free, and I am very jealous of my independence. I am quick to declare my independence and my freedom. Choice among my freedoms is my freedom to be obedient. I obey because I want to: I choose to.
"Some people are always suspicious that one is only obedient because he is compelled to be. They indict themselves with the very thought that one is only obedient because he is compelled to be. They feel that one would obey only through compulsion. They speak for themselves. I am free to be obedient, and I decided that—all by myself. I pondered on it; I reasoned it; I even experimented a little. I learned some sad lessons from disobedience. Then I tested it in the great laboratory of spiritual inquiry—the most sophisticated, accurate, and refined test that we can make of any principle. So I am not hesitant to say that I want to be obedient to the principles of the gospel. I want to. I have decided that. My volition, my agency, has been turned in that direction. The Lord knows that....
"Obedience to God can be the very highest expression of independence. Just think of giving to Him the one thing, the one gift, that He would never take. Think of giving Him that one thing that He would never wrest from you."
- Boyd K. Packer, address at BYU, December 1971; see also "That All May Be Edified," pp. 253-261
Click here to read the full article

This was a classic topic addressed by a young Elder Packer shortly after being called to the Quorum of Twelve. Sometimes believers are accused of "blind obedience" or being compelled to obey. But Elder Packer boldly declared his independence and agency. He had chosen to obey, and did so very willingly after careful consideration.

I love the thought that our willing obedience is a precious gift that we can give to God, one that He would never take from us, demand or compel.

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