“Conference Messages from Your Friends,” Friend, June 1971, 17
I pray for the young and rising generation that they shall keep their minds and bodies clean—free from immorality, from the use of drugs, and from the spirit of rebellion and defiance of decency that is sweeping the land.
Honesty must begin with oneself; otherwise we could not recognize this quality in others. We see things not as they are, but as we are. It is the responsibility of each of us to be honest ourselves: honest in our dealings and relationships, honest in our Church membership, honest in keeping the commandments of God.
Throughout our lives we must correct not only the mistakes made against us, but also those in our favor. How often have you gone into a place of business and had given back to you more change than you were entitled to? And it also happens that you are occasionally short-changed. One never loses an opportunity to call attention when a mistake occurs against him. Honesty, to be true and perfect, must work both ways.
An early lesson in honesty was taught a boy many years ago by his father. When he was just a young lad, he went to the store owned by his father and two business partners; and wanting a pocketknife, he proceeded to take one from the display case. Word got to the boy’s father. The father took the lad back to the case and had him replace the knife. Then he pointed out that he had two other partners in the business, that two-thirds of the pocketknife belonged to them, and that it was not the boy’s privilege as his son to take anything from the company, because it was not all his.
This father was honest and upright in his dealings; he was a man of integrity. When he made a bargain or a deal he kept it, regardless of what the cost to him might be. His reputation was for fairness with people. To him this attribute was more important than money.
Our personal testimony is sacred, and when we want to put it into words, we all say it in the same way, using the same words.
The apostles declare it in the same phrases as the Primary or Sunday School youngster. “I know that God lives and I know that Jesus is the Christ.”
We would do well not to disregard the testimonies of the prophets or of the children, for “he imparteth his word by angels unto men, yea, not only men but women also. Now this is not all; little children do have words given unto them many times which confound the wise and the learned.” (Alma 32:23.)
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, when there are questions which are unanswered because the Lord hasn’t seen fit to reveal the answers as yet, that all such could say, as Abraham Lincoln is alleged to have said, “I accept all I read in the Bible that I can understand, and accept the rest on faith.”
When I was a mission president in Australia, I once said to those of my missionaries in Tasmania: “Tomorrow we shall climb Mt. Wellington and hold our missionary meeting on the top. We shall there seek to commune with the Lord and partake of his Spirit.”
We made the climb, and while on top of the peak we visited a television broadcasting station. A bright young man explained to us in words I had never heard, and using principles I could not and do not understand, how the sounds and scenes of television were broadcast into the valley below.
That night, back in the city of Hobart, my two young sons and I sat before a television set that was tuned to the proper wave band, and we saw and heard and experienced what had been described to us in words.
Now I think this illustrates perfectly what is involved in the receipt of revelation and the seeing of visions. We can read about visions and revelations in the records of the past, we can study the inspired writings of people who had the fullness of the gospel in their day, but we cannot comprehend what is involved until we see and hear and experience for ourselves.
* * *
I have an average mind—one that is neither better nor worse than the general run of mankind. In the realm of intellectual attainment I have a doctor’s degree, and I hope my sons after me will reach a similar goal. In their sphere, education and intellectuality are devoutly to be desired.
But when contrasted with spiritual endowments, they are of but slight and passing worth. From an eternal perspective what each of us needs is a Ph.D. in faith and righteousness.
These are some of the simple chords of melody that make a home harmonious and happy. Kindness, consideration, courtesy, care, laughter, unselfishness, prayer, thoughtfulness, doing things for each other, forgiving each other, sustaining each other, loving each other, these are notes that form a family symphony happily enjoyed and eternally remembered.
It is time for us to reaffirm the great truth that God’s paths are straight. They not only provide safety but also lead to happiness and eternal progression.
I will never forget an experience I had with a friend in central Utah a few years ago. He had for his hobby mountain lion hunting. One day when I visited his place of business, he had a full-grown hunting dog tied to one of his sheds.
“Isn’t he a beauty?” I commented.
He responded with, “He’s got to go. I can’t be bothered with him.”
“What’s the problem?” I continued.
“Since he was a pup, I have trained him to track lions. He knows what I expect. The last time we were out on a three-day hunt he took off after a deer, then a coyote, and finally some rabbits, and was gone the best part of a full day. He knows he must stay on the trail of the lion. Our business is mountain lions. He’s for sale pretty cheap.”
How often are we led from the right track by distractions that cross our paths? Do we sometimes seek the available “rabbit” when the big game is available up the path?
We ought to live as we ought to live, not only because it would please God, not only because it would please our parents, but as a favor for ourselves. Every commandment, every requirement God has given is for our happiness, for our health, and for our peace and progress. O my beloved young friends, even selfishly it is smart to keep the commandments God has given.
Now, I invite you to become more excited about the gospel as related by great prophets not only present, but also prophets of old. I wish in your study classes and family home evenings you would get more excited about the scriptures.