Sunday, May 6, 2018

Elder Marvin J. Ashton on the evidence of conversion to Christ

Elder Marvin J. Ashton (1915-1994) served as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles from 1971 until his death in 1994 at age 78.
"It seems interesting that the first principles the Lord Jesus Christ chose to teach His newly called Apostles were those that center around the way we treat each other. And then, what did He emphasize during the brief period He spent with the Nephites on this continent? Basically the same message. Could this be because the way we treat each other is the foundation of the gospel of Jesus Christ?
"During an informal fireside address held with a group of adult Latter-day Saints, the leader directing the discussion invited participation by asking the question: 'How can you tell if someone is converted to Jesus Christ?' For forty-five minutes those in attendance made numerous suggestions in response to this question, and the leader carefully wrote down each answer on a large blackboard. All of the comments were thoughtful and appropriate. But after a time, this great teacher erased everything he had written. Then, acknowledging that all of the comments had been worthwhile and appreciated, he taught a vital principle: 'The best and most clear indicator that we are progressing spiritually and coming unto Christ is the way we treat other people.'
"Would you consider this idea for a moment—that the way we treat the members of our families, our friends, those with whom we work each day is as important as are some of the more noticeable gospel principles we sometimes emphasize.
"Last month the Relief Society celebrated its 150th anniversary. Its motto, 'Charity Never Faileth,' has been a way of life for its members and others around the globe.
"Imagine what could happen in today’s world—or in our own wards, or families, or priesthood quorums and auxiliaries—if each of us would vow to cherish, watch over, and comfort one another. Imagine the possibilities!"
- Marvin J. Ashton, "The Tongue Can Be a Sharp Sword," General Conference April 1992
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

This was a classic address by Elder Ashton, filled with insight and wise counsel. What an important and true insight: "The way we treat each other is the foundation of the gospel of Jesus Christ." I love the story about a fireside discussion during which the speaker invited thoughts about evidence of true conversion, and then summarized with a very clear and concise statement:

How true that is! Being a disciple of Christ means nothing if it doesn't focus on the way we treat others. His message, His way is the way of service and love to those around us. As we continue to grasp the truth and importance of that divine and eternal principle, we will be blessed and we will be instruments in His hands to do much good.

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

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