Thursday, December 6, 2018

President Russell M. Nelson on the value of spiritual exercise

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 became president of that quorum on July 15, 2015. Following the death of President Monson, he was set apart as president of the Church on January 14, 2018.
"Muscles become larger and more capable from exercise, whereas those parts that are not physically exercised undergo atrophy. Similarly, spiritual strengths become increased through use, while those hidden may dwindle. If you recall the parable of the talents, he who had received one talent and didn't use it had it taken from him and given to another who had ten talents (see Matthew 25:24, 28)....
"Spiritual parallels exist for the fact that hard work or 'pumping iron' increases one's capacity to do physical labor:
"'Intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom, truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue, light cleaveth unto light' (D&C 88:40).
"'That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day' (D&C 50:24).
"Spiritual exercise increases spiritual capacity."
- Russell M. Nelson, "Twenty Questions," address to CES Religious Educators, 13 September 1985; see  Teachings of Russell M. Nelson [Deseret 2018] pp. 303-304
Click here to read the full talk

These remarks were shared 33 years ago when Elder Russell M. Nelson was, along with Elder Dallin H. Oaks, the most recently called of the apostles. As a way of introducing himself, he shared "20 questions" that he had been frequently asked and provided answers. Many of the questions reflect interest about his medical background and how that might relate to his service in the Church.

He compared physical and spiritual exercise in this section; muscles can become strong through regular exercise, or they can atrophy through neglect:

The spiritual equivalent of "pumping iron" is what is critical for us. In involves fundamental habits such as prayer, study, pondering, obedience, and growing in faith in God. But it requires regular and consistent efforts in order to see our strength be maintained and grow; inconsistency or lack of effort will result in spiritual atrophy.

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

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