Monday, October 25, 2021

Elder Neal A. Maxwell on the sacrifices we offer on God's altar

Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926-2004) served as a Seventy from 1976-1981, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve until his death from cancer in 2004.
"Jesus' perfect character is thus not only holy, but wholly complete and finished. Without Jesus' supernal character, He could not have accomplished the astonishing atonement! And He has asked us to become much more like Him (see Matt. 5:48; 3 Ne. 12:48; 3 Ne. 27:27). Though heavy, discipleship's burden can be made light (see Matt. 11:30). The Lord can 'ease the burdens,' and/or our shoulders can be made strong enough that we 'may be able to bear it' (Mosiah 24:14; 1 Cor. 10:13).
"So it is that real, personal sacrifice never was placing an animal on the altar. Instead, it is a willingness to put the animal in us upon the altar and letting it be consumed! Such is the 'sacrifice unto the Lord … of a broken heart and a contrite spirit,' (D&C 59:8), a prerequisite to taking up the cross, while giving 'away all [our] sins' in order to 'know God' (Alma 22:18) for the denial of self precedes the full acceptance of Him."
- Neal A. Maxwell, "Deny Yourselves of All Ungodliness," General Conference April 1995
Click here to read the full talk

Elder Maxwell's unique writing and speaking style was so inspiring to me. His use of language not only conveyed wonderful doctrine, but always did it in a way that invited more pondering. His use of the homonyms "holy" and "wholly" in the opening sentence is a good example. Jesus' charter was both holy, and wholly complete. It reminds us of our incomplete attempts to become holy; we tend to be occasionally holy. We have much work yet to do as we strive to be like Him. But surely, He will bless us in that quest.

The main point of this excerpt is the blessings that come as we accept the gift of the Atonement and strive, as faithful and dedicated disciples, to truly follow the Lord. This summary is classic Elder Maxwell:

And the final statement is the challenge to each of us: we can't fully accept Him until we deny our selfish desires and personal weaknesses. What an invitation for deep introspection and greater resolve!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
June 12, 2015

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