Wednesday, February 27, 2019

President Joseph F. Smith on submitting our will to God

President Joseph F. Smith (1838-1918) was the son of Joseph's brother Hyrum. He was ordained an apostle in 1866 at age 28, and served as a counselor to Brigham Young and the three presidents who followed.  He became the 6th president of the Church in 1901, and served until his death in 1918 at age 80.
"The Gospel is calculated to remove from us everything that is not consistent with God and the plan of salvation which he has revealed to men. It is designed to qualify us to live so that we may enjoy a fulness of the light of truth, and understand the purposes of God, and be able to live so near to Him that we may be in harmony with His wishes constantly. The principles of the Gospel are calculated to make us unselfish, to broaden our minds, to give breadth to our desires for good, to remove hatred, animosity, envy and anger from our hearts, and make us peaceful, tractable, teachable, and willing to sacrifice our own desires, and perchance our own interests, for the welfare of our fellow-creatures, and for the advancement of the Kingdom of God. A man who cannot sacrifice his own wishes, who cannot say in his heart, 'Father, Thy will be done, not mine,' is not a truly and thoroughly converted child of God; he is still, to some extent, in the grasp of error and in the shades of darkness that hover around the world, hiding God from the presence of mankind."
- Joseph F. Smith, "Blind Obedience and Tithing," Millennial Star, 20 Jan. 1893, p. 79

I've always been fascinated by the wording of Moroni 10:32, near the end of the Book of Mormon:
Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. (emphasis added)

Note that Moroni didn't say, fill your life with godly traits. He said, "deny yourselves of all ungodliness." We become perfect in Christ as we eliminate everything from our life that is not Christ-like. President Smith echoes this doctrine as he teaches, "The Gospel is calculated to remove from us everything that is not consistent with God." Part of the process of repentance is that gradual and consistent elimination of ungodly traits as we come unto Him. The Gospel works in our lives by eliminating the bad qualities and characteristics, and teaching and enhancing the good.

True conversion, true discipleship are evident in our lives when we are devoted fully to the counsel and will of God. These thoughts are powerfully expressed in the little-sung 4th verse of the beautiful LDS hymn, "God Loved Us, So He Sent His Son" (Hymns #187).
In word and deed he doth require
My will to his, like son to sire,
Be made to bend, and I, as son,
Learn conduct from the Holy One.
(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

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