Thursday, April 15, 2021

Elder D. Todd Christofferson on the blessings of the covenant path

Elder D. Todd Christofferson (born January 24, 1945) was called to the Seventy in 1993, and as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2008.
"What is the covenant path? It is the one path that leads to the celestial kingdom of God. We embark upon the path at the gate of baptism and then 'press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men [the two great commandments] … to the end.' (2 Ne 31:20.) In the course of the covenant path (which, by the way, extends beyond mortality), we receive all the ordinances and covenants pertaining to salvation and exaltation.

"Our overarching covenant commitment is to do God’s will 'and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us.' (Mosiah 5:5.) Following the principles and commandments of the gospel of Jesus Christ day by day is the happiest and most satisfying course in life. For one thing, a person avoids a great many problems and regrets. Let me use a sports analogy. In tennis, there is something called unforced errors. These are things such as hitting a playable ball into the net or double-faulting when serving. Unforced errors are considered the result of a player’s blunder rather than being caused by the opponent’s skill.

"Too often our problems or challenges are self-inflicted, the result of poor choices, or, we could say, the result of 'unforced errors.' When we are diligently pursuing the covenant path, we quite naturally avoid many 'unforced errors.' We sidestep the various forms of addiction. We do not fall into the ditch of dishonest conduct. We cross over the abyss of immorality and infidelity. We bypass the people and things that, even if popular, would jeopardize our physical and spiritual well-being. We avoid the choices that harm or disadvantage others and instead acquire the habits of self-discipline and service.

"Elder J. Golden Kimball is purported to have said, 'I may not have [always] walked the straight and narrow, but I [try] to cross it as often as I [can].' In a more serious moment, I am sure Brother Kimball would agree that staying on, not just crossing, the covenant path is our greatest hope for avoiding avoidable misery on the one hand and successfully dealing with the unavoidable woes of life on the other."

- D. Todd Christofferson, "Why the Covenant Path," General Conference April 2021, Sunday afternoon session
Elder Christofferson's message reviewed the concept of the "covenant path" and discussed the opportunities and blessings that come along the way.

The application of the tennis concept of an "unforced error" is one I had not considered before. Most of our errors are indeed "unforced" - it's our own choice that brings about the stumble, the mistake. But we also have the choice to correct the error and move forward in better ways. And we can avoid many of those errors as we more carefully "follow the covenant path" in our lives.

We used to hear more about "the strait and narrow path" in our Gospel discussions. I think this emphasis of "covenant path" helps us to remember the importance of sacred covenants that are the keys to getting on that path and remaining firmly on it, so we're not just "crossing" the path now and then but carefully and diligently pressing forward.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2020)

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