Friday, November 10, 2017

Elder Neal A. Maxwell on service in the kingdom of God

Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926-2004) served as a Seventy from 1976-1981, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve until his death from cancer in 2004.
"I know the celestial criteria measure service, not status; the use of our talents, not the relative size of our talent inventories. I know that Church membership is not passive security but continuing opportunity.
"Finally I testify that what a wise man wrote is true: 'If you have not chosen the kingdom of God first, it will in the end make no difference what you have chosen instead.' Having so chosen, may God bless us all to move the kingdom along."
- Neal A. Maxwell, "Response to a Call," General Conference, April 1974
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

The April 1974 general conference included a "solemn assembly" for the sustaining of President Spencer W. Kimball. It was also when Neal A. Maxwell was called as a general authority, sustained as an Assistant to the Twelve (a position that was discontinued two years later as the First Quorum of Seventy was organized). He had previously served as a Regional Representative.

In this talk, he expressed appreciation for many of the blessings of his life and Church service. Some memorable phrases, trademarks of his eloquent speaking style, were introduced in the talk:
"Endless appreciation to Jesus Christ for his atonement, realizing that included in the awful arithmetic of that atonement are my sins..."
"When one sees life and people through the lens of His gospel, then one can see forever."
"Endless appreciation to my Father in heaven whose blessings depend upon our obedience, but whose ratio of blessings to obedience makes him a generous God!"
This was his concluding testimony:

The "wise man" quoted by Elder Maxwell on this occasion and several others during his ministry is William Law, 18th-century English clergyman. Elder Maxwell seemed to understand his message and endorse it; our priorities in what we choose first will make all the difference. And having made the choice of placing the kingdom of God first in our lives, we move forward in faith and strive to move God's kingdom forward as we do.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)

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