“Questions and Answers,” Liahona, Apr. 1999, 22
Each week in sacrament meeting we have the privilege of renewing a covenant of great value. In fact, the most important reason we attend the meeting is to take the sacrament. By partaking of the emblems of the Lord’s Atonement, we agree to do three things: to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ, to always remember Him, and to keep His commandments. In return, the Lord promises we will always have His Spirit to be with us. What a glorious gift! Having the Spirit of the Lord with us is the greatest feeling of love and peace we can ever have.
The sacrament is a weekly opportunity to remember what we have promised. It is a time to think about our lives and review our actions of the week. If we have made mistakes or have overlooked something we should be doing, the sacrament reminds us of our need to change. In this way, the sacrament helps us live the gospel better. It helps us make the Lord’s teachings part of our daily lives, and it motivates us to repent. It provides us with the opportunity to renew the covenants we made at baptism. As we do this, the Lord’s Spirit can abide with us and help us become more like our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Of course, we do not become like the Savior all at once. None of us is perfect. We all make mistakes. As long as we are trying to improve and be a better disciple of Jesus Christ, we are worthy to take the sacrament.
On the other hand, committing certain serious sins may disqualify us from taking the sacrament, particularly if we are not trying to repent of them. If we are willfully sinning without any inclination to repent, then we should probably refrain from taking the emblems of the sacrament when the bread and water are passed to us. Partaking of the sacrament under those conditions may do us more harm than good (see 3 Ne. 18:29).
When faced with the choice, we could ask ourselves questions like these: Am I taking the sacrament just so my parents or friends sitting nearby won’t wonder about me? Am I doing it to try to hide the bad choices I am making? Am I ignoring an uncomfortable feeling that is nagging me? Am I turning off my mind so I don’t have to think about what I am doing?
As we examine our lives by asking ourselves these and similar questions, we are better able to recognize the need to repent. And if we are not repenting of our serious transgressions, it is better not to partake of the sacrament. Before we take the emblems of the sacrament, we should first ask forgiveness from our Heavenly Father. Then, if necessary, we should resolve these serious sins with the bishop or branch president and, if possible, with those we have offended. As we do so, we are taking a great step toward eternal life. We are participating in the way Moroni counseled us: “See that ye partake not of the sacrament of Christ unworthily; but see that ye do all things in worthiness, and do it in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God; and if ye do this, and endure to the end, ye will in nowise be cast out” (Morm. 9:29).
With these principles in mind, can you see why it is important for us all to refrain from jumping to conclusions and judging one another? We are all struggling to improve our lives, and the reason someone does not partake of the sacrament is between that person and the Lord. In fact, as the question you asked shows, a person who is not taking the sacrament may simply not understand when one should and should not partake of the sacrament. In other instances, the person may be trying to repent of a serious transgression. Rather than think badly of that person, we should be happy he or she is taking the steps necessary to resolve the problem. In neither case do those refraining from taking the sacrament deserve our condemnation. As true Latter-day Saints, we should not make another’s burden heavier.
Instead of thinking about the reaction of your neighbor, think about our Heavenly Father, who is saddened by any deceit.
Epsom Ward, Crawley England Stake
Recently I did a Personal Progress value experience that involved the sacrament. Because of what I learned, I have some advice. Read Matthew 26:26–28 [Matt. 26:26–28]. You will find that Christ administered the sacrament to remind us that we can be forgiven of our sins. Think about Jesus Christ and all He has done for us, and remember that we can all be forgiven if we repent.
Edgewood Ward, Baltimore Maryland Stake
Everyone has a conscience. If, after praying, we feel unworthy, we should not take the sacrament but meet with the bishop. By following his counsel we may again partake of the sacrament righteously.
Onyekachi E. Onyenkwere,
Okpu-Umuobo Road Ward, Aba Nigeria Stake
It is important to keep in mind that when we take the sacrament, we are reaffirming our covenant with the Lord—not with our friends, family, or neighbors.
Baguio University Ward, Baguio Philippines Stake
Using our agency, we can choose to please others or to please the Lord. We should take the sacrament in the spirit of sober reflection and, where necessary, repent so that we may have the Lord’s Spirit to be with us.
N. Onyewychi Inyamah,
Amumara Ward, Owerri Nigeria Stake
My parents have always taught me to be honest with myself and with God. I know I am responsible for my own acts. If I feel unworthy to take the sacrament, I remind myself that I have made a covenant with God. At sacrament time, I prepare myself by silently singing a hymn, reading a scripture, and praying for help with my shortcomings.
Adriane Hitomi Hirata,
Canaa Branch, Ipatinga Brazil District
It is important to recognize that all of us sin. Despite our failings, we are trying to live the gospel and can worthily and reverently partake of the sacrament as we struggle with our imperfections. On the solemn occasion of the administration of the sacrament, we should show a profound respect for the Savior. I have found it helpful, after taking the sacrament, to close my eyes, bow my head, and focus my mind on the Savior and the purpose of the sacrament.
Ji-Paraná Branch, Vilhena Brazil District
Sometimes when we take the sacrament we forget why we are taking it—the Lord Jesus Christ made a great and eternal sacrifice for the sake of all humanity and we are renewing the promises we made with Him when we were baptized.
If we are tempted to partake of the sacrament unworthily because we are afraid of what others might think of us, let us remember that “man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).
Lose ‘O Vikatolia Kinikini,
‘Uiha Ward, Ha‘apai Tonga Stake