Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Elder Dallin H. Oaks on refinement and sanctification

Elder Dallin H. Oaks (b. August 12, 1932) served as president of BYU from 1971-1980.  He was then appointed as a justice of the Utah Supreme Court, and resigned when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1984.
"Most of us experience some measure of what the scriptures call 'the furnace of affliction' (Isa. 48:10; 1 Ne. 20:10). Some are submerged in service to a disadvantaged family member. Others suffer the death of a loved one or the loss or postponement of a righteous goal like marriage or childbearing. Still others struggle with personal impairments or with feelings of rejection, inadequacy, or depression. Through the justice and mercy of a loving Father in Heaven, the refinement and sanctification possible through such experiences can help us achieve what God desires us to become.
"We are challenged to move through a process of conversion toward that status and condition called eternal life. This is achieved not just by doing what is right, but by doing it for the right reason—for the pure love of Christ. The Apostle Paul illustrated this in his famous teaching about the importance of charity (see 1 Cor. 13). The reason charity never fails and the reason charity is greater than even the most significant acts of goodness he cited is that charity, 'the pure love of Christ' (Moro. 7:47), is not an act but a condition or state of being. Charity is attained through a succession of acts that result in a conversion. Charity is something one becomes. Thus, as Moroni declared, 'except men shall have charity they cannot inherit' the place prepared for them in the mansions of the Father (Ether 12:34; emphasis added)."
- Dallin H. Oaks, "The Challenge to Become," Ensign, Nov. 2000, 32-34
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Among the descriptions of the challenges of our mortal experience, this one—"the furnace of afflication"—may be the most descriptive. There are certainly times when we feel the heat of oppression or discouragement, almost to the point of being consumed. But Elder Oaks reminds us that "refinement and sanctification" are also possible outcomes of those times if we allow God's work to have its desired effect upon us.

In order for that to happen, we must have hearts filled with charity. We must learn to focus on giving in Christlike love and service to others. This involves allowing ourselves to be led through a gradual "process of conversion" as our hearts are in the right place; we not only do the right things, but we become the right kind of person as our heart is changed:

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