Monday, June 25, 2018

Elder D. Todd Christofferson on striving for holiness in our daily lives

Elder D. Todd Christofferson (b. January 24, 1945) was called to the Seventy in 1993, and as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2008.
"If we yearn to dwell in Christ and have Him dwell in us (see John 6:56), then holiness is what we seek, in both body and spirit. (See Romans 12:1.) We seek it in the temple, whereon is inscribed 'Holiness to the Lord.' We seek it in our marriages, families, and homes. We seek it each week as we delight in the Lord’s holy day. (See Isaiah 58:13.) We seek it even in the details of daily living: our speech, our dress, our thoughts. As President Thomas S. Monson has stated, 'We are the product of all we read, all we view, all we hear and all we think.' (TTSM 267) We seek holiness as we take up our cross daily (see JST, Matthew 16:25–26, in Matthew 16:24, footnote e)....
"Zechariah prophesied that in the day of the Lord’s millennial reign, even the bells of the horses would bear the inscription 'Holiness unto the Lord' (Zechariah 14:20). In that spirit, the pioneer Saints in these valleys affixed that reminder, 'Holiness to the Lord,' on seemingly common or mundane things as well as those more directly associated with religious practice.... These references to holiness in seemingly unusual or unexpected places may seem incongruous, but they suggest just how pervasive and constant our focus on holiness needs to be.
"Partaking of the Savior’s flesh and drinking His blood means to put out of our lives anything inconsistent with a Christlike character and to make His attributes our own. This is the larger meaning of repentance: not only a turning away from past sin but also 'a turning of the heart and will to God' (Bible Dictionary, 'Repentance') going forward. As happened with my friend in his revelatory dream, God will show us our flaws and failings, but He will also help us turn weakness into strength. (See Ether 12:27.) If we sincerely ask, 'What lack I yet?' (Matthew 19:20) He will not leave us to guess, but in love He will answer for the sake of our happiness. And He will give us hope.
"It is a consuming endeavor, and it would be terribly daunting if in our striving for holiness we were alone. The glorious truth is we are not alone. We have the love of God, the grace of Christ, the comfort and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the fellowship and encouragement of fellow Saints in the body of Christ. Let us not be content with where we are, but neither let us be discouraged."
- D. Todd Christofferson, "The Living Bread Which Came Down from Heaven," General Conference October 2017
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

The opening phrase of this excerpt introduces a wonderful concept: "If we yearn to dwell in Christ and have Him dwell in us...." I love that expression of the longing to be close to the Savior in our lives. Elder Christofferson goes on to express how we can fulfill that kind of yearning, in the quest for holiness in our lives:

Holiness can be a part of everything we do and experience in life, if we learn to bring God's spirit and influence into each aspect! The early pioneer settlers of Utah who adopted the expression "Holiness to the Lord" as a motto in both spiritual and temporal settings convey that message, and is one we could profit from.

But that's where we should return to the opening phrase. As we seek greater holiness in our daily lives, as we yearn to be closer to Christ, it is in and through Him and His promised help that we can access that power and influence. I have always felt that one of the most important prayers we can offer is the one Elder Christofferson suggests as well: "What lack I yet?" And the testimony that God "will answer for the sake of our happiness" is a blessing to us. We need to be willing to heed and act, but hope and help from Heaven are always with the soul who seeks with honesty and willingness.

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

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