Saturday, January 13, 2018

President Russell M. Nelson on what it means to be a saint

President Russell M. Nelson (born Sept 9, 1924) was an internationally-renowned heart surgeon when he was called to serve as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1984. He was set apart as president of the Quorum of Twelve on July 15, 2015. With the death of President Monson, at age 93 he currently presides over the Church as senior apostle.
"Despite its use in ninety-eight verses of the Bible, the term saint is still not well understood. Some mistakenly think that it implies beatification or perfection. Not so! A saint is a believer in Christ and knows of His perfect love. The giving saint shares in a true spirit of that love, and the receiving saint accepts in a true spirit of gratitude. A saint serves others, knowing that the more one serves, the greater the opportunity for the Spirit to sanctify and purify.
"A saint is tolerant, and is attentive to the pleadings of other human beings, not only to spoken messages but to unspoken messages as well. A saint is different from an individual whose response to a concern might be a selfish 'What do I care' attitude. A real saint responds, 'What? I do care!' Do is an action verb, and it becomes the driving force in the reply of one who will care for another in need. (See 1 Cor. 12:25-27; 2 Cor. 7:12.)
"A saint 'refrain[s] from idleness' (Alma 38:12) and seeks learning by study, and also by faith....
"A saint resolves any differences with others honorably and peacefully and is constant in courtesy—even in traffic at the rush hour.
"A saint shuns that which is unclean or degrading and avoids excess even of that which is good.
"Perhaps above all, a saint is reverent. Reverence for the Lord, for the earth He created, for leaders, for the dignity of others, for the law, for the sanctity of life, for chapels and other buildings, are all evidences of saintly attitudes. (See Lev. 19:30; Alma 47:22; D&C 107:4; D&C 134:7.)
"A reverent saint loves the Lord and gives highest priority to keeping His commandments. Daily prayer, periodic fasting, payment of tithes and offerings are privileges important to a faithful saint.
"Finally, a saint is one who receives the gifts of the Spirit that God has promised to all His faithful sons and daughters. (See Joel 2:28–29; Acts 2:17–18.)"
- Russell M. Nelson, "Thus Shall my Church be Called," General Conference April 1990
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

The use of the term "saint" among Latter-day Saints is somewhat different from most of the rest of the world, as President Nelson points out. He begins his overview of the characteristics of saints with this summary:

So a saint not only believes in Christ, but knows of Christ's love for him. That implies a level of relationship beyond the casual, one that requires an intellectual understanding as well as spiritual experience. A saint can thus express love and feel gratitude.

But then those feelings and understandings are translated into action in the life of a true saint: service, tolerance, unselfishness; being active, peaceful, pure, reverent, and obedient. For those who profess to be latter-day saints, it's good to consider President Nelson's analysis and see how well it describes us, or perhaps to identify areas where improvement is needed!

Finally, this is a wonderful summary: "A saint is one who receives the gifts of the Spirit that God has promised to all His faithful sons and daughters." We should be feeling and experiencing those gifts in our lives!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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