“The sum of our decisions …” Ensign, Jan. 1971, 26
“No one can ask honestly or hope fully to be delivered from temptation,” said John Ruskin, “unless he has himself honestly and firmly determined to do the best he can to keep out of it.”1 Many who find themselves in trouble and regret say that it was circumstances, or the influence of someone else, or that the blame lies largely outside themselves, which may be true—or partly so. It is true that there are always circumstances and influences outside ourselves. No one lives in a vacuum. We are all played upon by other people. We are influenced by the moral and physical atmosphere in which we live our lives. But there is something else that is also true—that we, ourselves, must make our choices; that we must decide, and take our share of responsibilities for our decisions—for added to all the outside influences are the inner influences—the personal standards, the personal commitment; the determination to do what we shouldn’t do. Ultimately we become the sum of our decisions—the sum of what we decide. And one thing that is quite unsafe is to leave the door open for anything to enter—to leave the wrong options open. It takes character to turn away from temptation. It takes character to turn away from an enticing evil. But when a person decides to go half way or just a little the wrong way, he may find that he can’t stop where he thought he could. It comes down pretty much to deciding what we will or won’t do—and then staying with our standards. It sounds oversimplified, and it is; but too often those who get into trouble do so with some degree of consent. They entertain the idea; they leave the wrong options open. “No one can ask honestly or hope fully to be delivered from temptation unless he has himself honestly and firmly determined to do the best he can to keep out of it.” It is as John Oxenham said it:
“To every man there openeth …
A High Way and a Low.
And every man decideth
The way his soul shall go.”2