Monday, March 6, 2017

Elder L. Tom Perry on evidences of the converted life

Elder L. Tom Perry (1922-2015) was called as an Assistant to the Twelve in 1972, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1974. At the time of his passing at age 92, he was the oldest living general authority and the third in seniority among the leading quorum.
"Surely there would be an obvious difference between one who is attempting to conduct his life as though he were a citizen of the kingdom of God, and one who is conducting his life by the standards made by man. When a person determines to live a higher law, there should be a visible difference, a marked change in his appearance, his actions, the way he treats others, and the way he serves his fellowmen and his God. The scriptures are full of dramatic changes which occurred in the lives of individuals when they were converted to living the law of the Lord....
"Conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ brings a requirement to live according to a higher law. From there on we must conduct ourselves as citizens of His kingdom. President Stephen L Richards once defined what these attributes would be. He stated:
"'The attributes of Jesus are the standards of perfection in human living. Kindliness, sympathy, tolerance, mercy, forbearance, charity in judgment, loyalty, justice, integrity, and abiding love are Christian virtues that lie at the foundation of the idealism of the race. These and the incomparable concepts of the good neighbor, doing unto others as you would be done by, and the abundant life—losing one's self in the service of others that he may save it—are the soundest and truest philosophies in the society of men and the way to happiness.' (Where Is Wisdom? Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1955, p. 324.)
"We have the obligation when we accept the teachings of the gospel to demonstrate by our lives that we, indeed, keep God's commandments. We know His son, Jesus the Christ, stands at the head of this Church, and mankind has not been left alone to find the way by himself in a troubled world. There is great joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment in living God's law as He has declared it and will continue to declare it to His children here on the earth."
- L. Tom Perry, "The Kingdom of God," Ensign, May 1979, p. 12
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

How is life different for one who is striving to be "a citizen of the kingdom of God"? Are there evidences of this commitment? Elder Perry believes it should be obvious and visible "in his appearance, his actions, the way he treats others, and the way he serves his fellowmen and his God." Discipleship should be evident and clear; one who strives to follow the Savior should act and behave like the Savior.

Elder Perry suggested we consider the list of attributes shared by President Stephen L Richards (1879 -1959) who served as an apostle from 1917-1951, then as 1st Counselor to President McKay until his death in 1959:

To consider "the attributes of Jesus" and evaluate our own in comparison is a good ongoing exercise that will help us find areas where we can still grow and improve. Truly, emulating these principles is "the way to happiness" in this life.

Elder Perry goes on to express his own feelings about the path of discipleship, the life of a converted follower:

It is not our words, but our lives, that should testify and demonstrate we accept the teachings of the Lord's gospel.

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