Monday, June 11, 2018

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin on living a life without guile

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917-2008) served as a Seventy from 1976 to 1986, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles from 1986 until his passing in 2008 at age 91.
"I believe the necessity for the members of the Church to be without guile may be more urgent now than at other times because many in the world apparently do not understand the importance of this virtue or are indifferent to it. We see and hear reports of fraud and deception in all levels of our society. A few citizens of some nations betray their country by exchanging sensitive information for money, information they have stolen or with which they have been entrusted. The entertainment industry seems to have lost, in large measure, the concept of moral values. Employees falsify expense accounts. These few examples of guile illustrate how pervasive it is.
"Of far greater concern than the outward acts of guile are the inner feelings and the attitudes that motivate them. Fraud and deception appear to be increasingly acceptable; the only wrongdoing seems to be in being caught. The objective often is to get gain or to profit, regardless of the injury, loss, or damage to others. This attitude is totally contrary to the principles of the gospel. It hinders or thwarts the spiritual progress of anyone afflicted by it. The practice of guile prevents the Holy Ghost from prompting, guiding, and instructing us, leaving us ever more susceptible to the buffetings of Satan. When we break the commandments, we close ourselves to God’s influence and open ourselves to Satan’s influence."
- Joseph B. Wirthlin, "Without Guile," General Conference April 1988
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Wirthlin taught in this message that "To be without guile is to be free of deceit, cunning, hypocrisy, and dishonesty in thought or action." That seems to be increasingly rare in our world, and so the challenge for us to provide the contrast is increasingly important, even "more urgent now than at other times."

But it's not just the outward actions that are a concern; it's the inward attitudes that create them that Elder Wirthlin warns about. Any attitude "contrary to the principles of the gospel" can create those dangerous circumstances by masking the influence of the Holy Ghost from our lives:

Our careful, thoughtful obedience is so critical in light of that eternal truth: "When we break the commandments, we close ourselves to God’s influence and open ourselves to Satan’s influence."

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

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