“Sharing Time: I Am Accountable for My Choices,” Friend, Feb. 2000, 13
I like my birthdays, ev’ry one;
Each brings a greater joy to me.
But I can’t wait until I’m eight,
For then I’ll be baptized, you see.
(Children’s Songbook, page 104.)
Do you like birthdays? How do you celebrate your birthday? Some children invite their friends to a party. Sometimes the birthday boy or girl is allowed to choose something special for his or her birthday dinner. It is great fun to make such choices!
When you reach your eighth birthday, you can make one of the most important choices of your life: the choice to be baptized! The Lord has taught that “children shall be baptized for the remission of their sins when eight years old” (D&C 68:27). By the time you are eight years old, you are able to tell the difference between right and wrong and you are able to choose the right. You are accountable, or responsible, for your choices.
When Drew* was a young boy, he lived next door to the bishop of his ward, Bishop Philip T. Sonntag. The bishop’s son Mark was one of Drew’s best friends. One afternoon, Mark and Drew were playing in different parts of the Sonntag yard, when the bishop came outside looking for his son. “Drew, do you know where Mark is?” he asked. Drew knew that if he told the truth, Mark would have to quit playing and go inside. “No, I don’t know where he is,” Drew answered.
The bishop went back into his house, and Drew ran to the other side of the large yard, where Mark was playing. “Who were you talking to?” Mark asked. “It was your dad,” Drew answered. “What did he want?” “He wanted you to go inside.” “Then I’d better go in,” Mark said. He left, and Drew stayed outside. A few minutes later Bishop Sonntag came outside again. He told Drew that what he had done was not right and that he (the bishop) was disappointed that Drew hadn’t told the truth.
Drew felt terrible. He was nine years old. He had been baptized. He knew that he was accountable and that he had made a mistake. He walked home and went to his bedroom. He cried as he knelt beside his bed and asked Heavenly Father to forgive him. Then he went back to his friend’s home. When Bishop Sonntag answered the door, Drew said, “I just want you to know that I’m sorry about what I did.” The bishop put his arm around Drew and invited him to come inside.
Drew learned two valuable lessons from the experience: First, it’s important to tell the truth. Second, when we repent after doing something wrong, we feel better. Drew always remembered the outpouring of love he felt from his bishop upon correcting his mistake. He appreciated the bishop and felt that he had been forgiven.
Heavenly Father knew when He sent us to earth that we would need to become accountable for our choices. Being accountable helps us learn to make wise choices. Heavenly Father knew that we would not always choose the right. He and Jesus Christ have provided a way for us to correct our mistakes so that we can be happy here on earth and one day return to live with Them forever. The way is repentance.
When we repent, we accept responsibility for our wrong choices, feel sorry, ask forgiveness, and correct our wrongs. Then we try very hard to not repeat that sin.
Heavenly Father has given us commandments to help us to be happy. He has promised us blessings—happy consequences—if we obey. If we choose to break the commandments of God, then we must suffer the consequences. This includes not receiving the blessings that come from keeping the commandments. Choosing to be baptized and then choosing to listen to and follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost after you have been confirmed are two very important, right choices. When you make these choices and are baptized and confirmed, you become a member of Jesus Christ’s own church; and when you choose to keep Heavenly Father’s commandments and always remember Jesus Christ, you will always have His Spirit to be with you. Those are very happy consequences! That is why your eighth birthday is such a special one.
Mount this page on a piece of cardboard, then cut out the pieces. Invite your family to put the puzzle together in a family home evening.
(Note: CS = Children’s Songbook)
1. Write the titles of songs from the CS on slips of paper and hide them around the room. Choose a child to find a title. Sing the song, then ask the children to identify the commandment(s) that the song reminds them to keep. Write each commandment on the chalkboard, then help the children identify the positive consequences (blessings) that may come from keeping that commandment. Repeat the activity with another child finding a title. Possible songs:
“I Like My Birthdays” (p. 104)
“The Still Small Voice” (pp. 106–107)
“I’ll Walk with You” (pp. 140–141)
“A Special Gift Is Kindness” (p. 145)
“Keep the Commandments” (pp. 146–147)
“I Believe in Being Honest” (p. 149)
“I’m Glad to Pay a Tithing” (p. 150)
“The Word of Wisdom” (pp. 154–155)
“When We’re Helping” (p. 198)
Let the children make a list of songs, commandments, and blessings, and suggest that they share this activity with their families.
2. Divide the children into groups. Give each group a piece of paper with a line drawn down the center to make two columns, Commandment and Consequence. Note that consequences can be either positive (when we obey the commandments) or negative (when we disobey the commandments). Ask each group to locate and identify the commandments and their consequences in an assigned scripture. The groups should then report their findings to the rest of the children. Help them understand that Heavenly Father’s commandments are found in the scriptures and that He not only gives the commandments but often gives their consequences at the same time. Remind the children that when we have been baptized, we are accountable for the choices we make. Possible scriptures: Mosiah 2:22; Mosiah 2:41; Alma 17:1–3; Alma 26:1–4, 12; D&C 43:20–21; D&C 59:9, 15; D&C 89:4, 7–9, 16–21; D&C 93:1. Sing songs from CS to reinforce the scriptural messages.
3. For younger children: Explain that choosing to keep the commandments can make them feel good inside. It can make them smile. Give each child two sheets of paper. Have them draw a smile on one and a frown on the other. Ask them to hold up the face that shows how they would feel in situations such as the following:
Your mother asks you to read a story to your little sister, and you do.
You play with your brother’s new toy without asking permission and break it.
Your grandmother comes to visit. You let her sleep in your bed, while you sleep on the couch.
Use a variety of other situations to fit the children in your Primary. The children might pantomime the situations and sing a song from CS to reinforce the teachings in each situation used. Remind them of President Benson’s statement: “When you do good, you feel good.” As young children learn to make right choices, they are beginning to become accountable.
4. Additional Friend resources: “Baptism Promise,” Sep. 1998, IBC; “I Will Make Important Choices Now,” Nov. 1997, pp. 14–15, 12; “Choosing the Right Through Study and Prayer,” June, pp. 4–5, 11; “My Choices Have Consequences,” Mar. 1997, pp. 14–15, 38; “The Words of Christ,” Mar. 1996, pp. 46–47, 38; “Honest and Truthful at All Times,” Oct. 1996, pp. 44–46; “Heavenly Father’s Plan,” Apr. 1995, pp. 36–37.