Sunday, June 10, 2018

President Thomas S. Monson on resisting the calls of the world

President Thomas S. Monson (1927–2018) was sustained to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1963. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency with Presidents Benson, Hunter, and Hinckley and then became Church president in 2008. He led the Church for almost a decade until his passing in January 2018.
"The unsatisfied yearnings of the soul will not be met by a never-ending quest for joy midst the thrills of sensation and vice. Vice never leads to virtue. Hate never points to love. Cowardice never reflects courage. Doubt never inspires faith.
"It is not difficult to withstand the mockings and unsavory remarks of foolish ones who would ridicule chastity, honesty, and obedience to God's commands. The world has ever belittled adherence to principle. Times change. Practices persist. When Noah was instructed to build an ark, the foolish populace looked at the cloudless sky, then scoffed and jeered—until the rain came.
"In the Western Hemisphere, those long centuries ago, people doubted, disputed, and disobeyed until the fire consumed Zarahemla, the earth covered Moronihah (3 Ne. 8:8-10) and water engulfed the land of Moroni. Jeering, mocking, ribaldry, and sin were no more. They had been replaced by sullen silence, dense darkness. The patience of God had expired, his timetable fulfilled.
"Must we learn such costly lessons over and over again? When we fail to profit from the experiences of the past, we are doomed to repeat them with all their heartache, suffering, and anguish. Haven't we the wisdom to obey him who designed the plan of salvation—rather than that serpent who despised its beauty?"
- Thomas S. Monson, "Come, Follow Me," General Conference April 1967
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

It's interesting to consider how the world has changed in the 50 years since President Monson offered these remarks. The world's standards continue to drift further away from the Lord's eternal principles; and the disciples of Christ must occasionally deal with the things President Monson describes. He witnesses that the "thrills and sensation and vice" that the world offers will never satisfy the "yearnings of the soul," though they appeal to short-term satisfaction. Those who are wise see through that temporary pleasure to understand the lasting joy that comes from obedience to God's commands.

And when the pressure of the world increases, when there are occasional taunts and jests, or pressures to succumb—how do we respond? President Monson reminds us that this problem is as old as the world:

If we are wise, we will learn from the examples of the past, and truly develop in ourselves "the wisdom to obey him who designed the plan of salvation—rather than that serpent who despised its beauty."

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

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