“True to the Truth,” Ensign, May 1997, 15
We are all impressed with Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s beautiful talk. I might add, he now joins the ranks of those, especially Brother Oaks and me, with illuminated heads. But most of all, we remember him for his wisdom, inspiration, and great leadership in the kingdom. What a miracle it is to have him here today. The Lord has blessed him and heard our prayers.
General conference is an inspiring time of the year for the entire membership of the Church. Our purpose is to “instruct and edify each other, that [we] may know how to … act upon the points of [God’s] law and commandments.”1 I humbly pray that we may continue to have that same spirit with us that we have enjoyed so much during this morning’s session.
In our day, great things are happening in the kingdom!
The Church is moving forward throughout the world as never before. It is a privilege for us to witness in our lifetime such exciting progress toward fulfillment of the great prophecy that “the kingdom … may become a great mountain and fill the whole earth”!2
Great things are happening because so many of you are faithfully “act[ing] upon the points of [God’s] law and commandments.” As leaders of the Lord’s Church, we are thrilled to see so much good being done by many righteous and faithful Latter-day Saints. Please know that we pray often that our Heavenly Father will help you to be true to the covenants that you have made with Him.
In a recent message, President Gordon B. Hinckley issued both an invitation and a challenge: “I invite you,” he said, “to walk the path of faith with me. I challenge you to stand for that which is right and true and good.”3 Our prophet exemplifies an unwavering commitment to and example of walking in this path of faith and diligence. In our everyday lives, are we following his inspired example? As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are we rising to his challenge “to stand for that which is right and true and good”? Echoing a favorite hymn, President Hinckley admonished, “Let us be [true,] ‘true to the faith that our parents have cherished, true to the truth for which martyrs have perished.’”4
Brothers and sisters, are we “true to the truth”?
The 13th article of faith states that “we believe in being … true.” The truth of the restored gospel, as this hymn highlights, is “the fairest gem, … the brightest prize to which mortals or Gods can aspire. … Truth, the sum of existence, will weather the worst, eternal, unchanged, evermore.”5
Yes, the fulness of the gospel is a pearl of great price worth any effort.
While we are taught to develop our talents and provide for our families, nevertheless we must be careful not to let the pursuit of our career path divert us from the gospel path.
We must be “true to the truth” and stay on the “strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life.”6 Remember Alma’s counsel to his son Corianton: “Suffer not yourself to be led away by any vain or foolish thing.”7
“Keep the commandments. In this there is safety and peace.”8 Nothing this world has to offer can surpass the joy of living the gospel! No worldly wealth or possession, no degree of fame or recognition can supplant the satisfaction of feeling the warmth and peace of the Spirit of the Lord in our hearts and in our homes. “Sweet is the peace the gospel brings.”9 As we strive for success, we cannot allow “any vain or foolish thing” to divert us from the path of faith and lead us away from being true to our covenants.
I like the word true. It powerfully explains basic gospel principles with insightful clarity.
True means “steadfast, loyal, … honest, just”10—all virtues that we should cultivate in our lives.
Truth can also describe “that which is [actually] the case rather than what is manifest or assumed,” as in the true dimensions of a problem or the true nature of an individual.
Do we, indeed, actually live the gospel, or do we just manifest the appearance of righteousness so that those around us assume we are faithful when, in reality, our hearts and unseen actions are not true to the Lord’s teachings?
Do we take on only the “form of godliness” while denying the “power thereof”?11
Are we righteous in fact, or do we feign obedience only when we think others are watching?
The Lord has made it clear that He will not be fooled by appearances, and He has warned us not to be false to Him or to others. He has cautioned us to be wary of those who project a false front, who put on a bright pretense that hides a darker reality. We know that the Lord “looketh on the heart” and not on the “outward appearance.”12
The Savior taught us to “judge not according to the appearance”13 and warned us against wolves who “come to [us] in sheep’s clothing” and whose deception can only be discovered “by [examining] their fruits.”14
Nephi taught that we must walk the path of faith “with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God.”15
We know that “a double minded man is unstable in all his ways”16 and that we cannot “serve two masters.”17 President Marion G. Romney wisely observed that there are too many of us “who try to serve the Lord without offending the devil.”18
“The Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind.”19 Hence, the first of the Ten Commandments is, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,”20 and the Savior declared that the first and great commandment is, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”21 Only when we give our all and overcome our pride and walk the path of faith without deviation can we honestly sing, “Lord, accept our true devotion.”22
The valiant pioneer Saints who sacrificed so much “to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion”23 walked a path of faith through great physical hardship that forged and tempered their souls. With genuine commitment to the cause of truth, they held fast to the iron rod in spite of opposition or challenge. They were “true to the truth” and gave their all in strengthening and living the restored gospel.
One of the great blessings of the restored gospel is the privilege of entering into sacred covenants with our Father in Heaven—covenants made binding by virtue of the holy priesthood. When we are baptized and confirmed, when brethren are ordained to the priesthood, when we go to the temple and receive our endowment, when we enter into the new and everlasting covenant of eternal marriage—in all these sacred ordinances, we make solemn commitments to keep God’s commandments.
We covenant that we will show our love for our Heavenly Father through humble service and diligent obedience and prove ourselves to be “good and faithful servant[s].”24
If we are true to our covenants, our Father in Heaven will grant us the blessing of “eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.”25 “All that [the] Father hath”26 is promised to those who walk the path of faith and remain true to their covenants. Those “who [do] the works of righteousness shall receive [their] reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.”27
Each of you has an eternal calling from which no Church officer has authority to release you. This is a calling given you by our Heavenly Father Himself. In this eternal calling, as with all other callings, you have a stewardship, and “it is required of the Lord, at the hand of every steward, to render an account of his stewardship, both in time and in eternity.”28 This most important stewardship is the glorious responsibility your Father in Heaven has given you to watch over and care for your own soul.
At some future day, you and I will each hear the voice of the Lord calling us forward to render an account of our mortal stewardship. This accounting will occur when we are called up to “stand before [the Lord] at the great and judgment day.”29
Each day on this earth is but a small part of eternity. The day of resurrection and final judgment will surely come for each one of us.
Then our Father in Heaven’s great and noble heart will be saddened for those of His children who, because they chose evil, will be cast out, unworthy to return to His presence. But He will welcome with loving arms and with indescribable joy those who have chosen to be “true to the truth.” Righteous living, combined with the grace of the Atonement, will qualify us to stand before Him with clean hearts and clear consciences.
As leaders of the Church, as servants of a compassionate Father in Heaven, we likewise want each of you to return to His presence. We love you and desire with all our hearts to see you rejoice with your Father in Heaven and with your parents, your children, and other loved ones in that great day of judgment. So we ask you, “Are you true?” And, therefore, we admonish you, as did Jacob, to “prepare your souls for that glorious day when justice shall be administered unto the righteous, even the day of judgment, that ye may not shrink with awful fear; that ye may not remember your awful guilt in perfectness.”30
What can help us to strengthen our resolve to keep on the narrow path of righteousness and truth so our souls will welcome our day of judgment as a glorious day? May I offer five suggestions.
First, the fundamental reason why the Lord has instructed us to conduct worthiness interviews in His Church is to teach us to keep the commitments we make. In short, we are to be trained during this season of mortal probation to master ourselves,31 to live with integrity and be true to our covenants. Worthiness interviews are conducted in a spirit of loving concern for each son and daughter of a loving God. These interviews represent the rehearsal stage for final judgment. Such interviews are a blessing, a choice opportunity to account to the Lord through His authorized servants for the sacred stewardship we all have to “watch [ourselves], and [our] thoughts, and [our] words, and [our] deeds.”32
Second, in the Lord’s Church, we are reminded of our sacred covenants every time we partake of the sacrament.
Third, each time we return to the temple, we are reminded of the covenants we make when we receive our endowment.
Fourth, in our home teaching and visiting teaching do we remember our promise to serve others?33
Fifth, the Savior Himself knew, as we should also know, that He was accountable to His Father. He taught that His sacred stewardship was “to do the will of him [who] sent me.”34 In His great intercessory prayer, the Lord reported to the Father, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.”35
When we are living righteously, we rejoice that we can report positively our worthiness and our preparation for continued blessings, whether they be the honor of receiving the priesthood, the blessings of temple attendance, the satisfaction of the Young Women Personal Progress achievements, or the blessings of service in whatever our calling might be.
Such mortal experiences give us the opportunity to assess what we are doing with our lives. All help us school our souls and strengthen our characters in preparation for that final interview.
And “if [we] are prepared [we] shall not fear.”36
When we have need to repent, interviews are not always easy. Thank goodness the Lord has called wonderful bishops, stake presidents, and other priesthood leaders who can provide loving guidance to help us repent and cleanse ourselves “that [we] may stand blameless before God at the last day.”37
Worthiness interviews, sacrament meetings, temple attendance, and other Church meetings are all part of the plan that the Lord provides to educate our souls, to help us develop the healthy habit of constantly checking our bearings to stay on the path of faith. Regular spiritual “checkups” help us navigate life’s highways and byways.
In quiet moments of personal reflecting and pondering, I have benefited from humbly asking myself the simple question, “Am I true?”
May I suggest that we can all similarly benefit by looking deep inside our hearts during reverent moments of worship and prayer and asking ourselves this simple question, “Am I true?”
The question becomes more powerfully useful if we are completely honest with our answers and if it motivates us to make repentant course corrections that keep us on the path of faith.
I testify that our Father in Heaven loves each one of us.
If we will be true to the truth, accept the invitation to walk with President Gordon B. Hinckley in the path of faith, and keep our covenants, we will find “peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.”38 I testify that our Heavenly Father lives and that His Beloved Son is our Redeemer and President Gordon B. Hinckley is indeed our prophet, seer, and revelator during this inspiring time of our mortal lives. May we be blessed in our efforts to prepare for that great day when, with our loved ones, we can return rejoicing into the presence of our Father in Heaven, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.