Five Messages We All Need to Hear
January 2023

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Five Messages We All Need to Hear

The two great commandments are the bull’s-eye of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are the foundation of who we are as His followers.

Though our circumstances may be different, our hearts are not. For this reason, there are certain messages that all of God’s children need to hear. I’d like to share with you five of these messages—truths and counsel that speak to all of us.

airplane and sun

1. Move toward the light.

When I was an airline captain, I would sometimes fly my Boeing 747 from Germany to the West Coast of the United States. On those flights west, the daylight seemed to never end. We took off in Germany at 1:00 p.m., and 10 hours later we touched down in California—at 2:00 p.m. the same day! The sun never set on us.

The opposite happened when flying east. Sunset came more quickly than it normally would. Leaving at 1:00 p.m. meant that in just a few hours, we were engulfed in darkest night. Yet, because of our direction and speed, in a few more hours we found ourselves bathed in blazing and often blinding light.

Whether I traveled west or east, the sun never changed course. It held its position, steadfast in the heavens, providing warmth and light to the earth.

My access to that warmth and light depended on my location, direction, and speed.

Similarly, God is in His heavens. He never changes, but we do.

We all need God’s light in our lives, and yet we all have periods of time when we feel that we are in darkness.

When those times come, we can be assured that God, like the sun, is always there. When we incline our hearts to Him, He embraces us and fills our souls with warmth, knowledge, and guidance.

2. You are better than you think you are.

The Lord has always used the small and weak things of the world to bring about His glorious purposes (see Alma 26:12; 37:6).

Jeremiah believed he was too young to be a prophet (see Jeremiah 1:6–7).

Moses doubted himself because he was slow of speech (see Exodus 4:10–12).

Enoch felt inadequate to preach repentance because, in his words, “all the people hate me” (Moses 6:31).

The Lord often accomplishes the most with those who feel the least accomplished. He took a young shepherd and made him mighty in slaying an imposing giant and leading a fledgling nation into greatness (see 1 Samuel 17).

Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove

An unschooled farm boy became the great latter-day prophet who began a marvelous work and a wonder.

The Desires of My Heart, by Walter Rane

In our dispensation, God took a young, unschooled farm boy and mentored him until he became the great latter-day prophet who began a marvelous work and a wonder that is now rolling forth unto every nation of the world.

Perhaps we all see ourselves as a little less than we are. Unworthy. Untalented. Nothing special. Lacking the heart, mind, resources, charisma, or stature to be of much use to God.

You say you’re not perfect? Welcome to the club! You may be just the person God is looking for.

The Lord chooses the humble and meek—partly because they are humble and meek. In this way, there is never a question regarding the reason for their success. These wonderful, ordinary people accomplish great things not because of who they are but because of who God is! For “what is impossible with man is possible with God” (Luke 18:27, New International Verison [2011]; see also Mark 10:27).

God doesn’t need you to be exceptional, let alone perfect.

He will take your talents and abilities and multiply them—even though they may seem as scarce as a few loaves and fishes. If you trust Him and are faithful, He will magnify your words and actions and use them to bless and minister to multitudes! (see John 6:8–13).

God does not need people who are flawless.

He seeks those who will offer their heart and a willing mind (see Doctrine and Covenants 64:31–34), and He will make them perfect in Christ (see Moroni 10:32–33).

a man helping an injured man

Do we love our families, friends, and neighbors?

The Good Samaritan, by Walter Rane

3. Learn to love God and one another.

When a Pharisee asked Jesus which was the greatest of the commandments, the Savior established once and for all what our priorities as individuals and as a Church should be:

  1. Love God (see Matthew 22:37).

  2. Love your neighbor (see Matthew 22:39; see also verses 34–40).

That is the center of the gospel. It should be the center of our every effort as a Church and as disciples of Jesus Christ.

The canvas of the gospel is so broad and rich that we could spend a lifetime studying it and scarcely scratch the surface. We all have topics or principles that interest us more than others. Naturally, those are the things we gravitate toward, speak about, and emphasize in our Church service.

Are those principles important? Certainly.

But we would do well to consider whether they are the most important.

The ancient Pharisees compiled hundreds of rules and commandments from sacred writings. They made a great effort to catalog them, comply with them, and enforce others to live by them with precision. They believed that exact obedience to the smallest of these procedures would lead people to God.

Where did they go wrong?

They lost sight of the center.

They lost sight of what was of most worth for their eternal purpose.

They saw the multitude of rules as ends in themselves instead of the means to an end.

Are we susceptible to the same mistake today? If we were to brainstorm, I’m sure we could compile a list of latter-day expectations that would rival or perhaps even surpass those amassed anciently.

It’s not to say these rules and gospel topics are not important or valuable. They have a purpose. They are part of the whole.

They can lead us to the center, but they are not the center.

They are branches of the tree, but they are not the tree. And if they ever become separated from the tree, they will have no life. They will wither and die. (See John 15:1–12.)

When we meet the Savior at the judgment bar, we will account for how we lived the two great commandments.1

Did we truly seek God? Did we love Him with all our heart, might, mind, and strength?

Did we love our families, friends, and neighbors? How did we manifest that love?

We cherish all the principles of the gospel. We “live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:44). And yet we must always remember that “all the law and the prophets” point to the two great commandments (Matthew 22:40).

This is the bull’s-eye of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the foundation of who we are as His followers.

Jesus before Caiaphas

As others contended with Him, Jesus spoke the simple truth—not in anger but with calm majesty.

The Lord Accused before Caiaphas, by Frank Adams

4. Conflict is inevitable; contention is a choice.

Sometimes we think how pleasant life would be if only we didn’t have so much opposition.

Jesus Christ—our model of perfection—did not live a life free of conflict. He was opposed throughout His ministry, and in His final hours He was betrayed by a friend, accused by false witnesses, slandered, beaten, bloodied, and crucified.

What was His response?

To some, He did not speak a word.

To others, He spoke the simple truth—not in anger but with calm majesty.

As others contended with him, He stood in His place—trusting in His Father, calm in His testimony, firm in the truth.

Conflict is inevitable. It’s a condition of mortality. It’s part of our test.

Contention, however, is a choice. It’s one way people choose to respond to conflict. And we can choose a better way.

Our world overflows with contention. We have 24/7 access to it: on the news, on social media—even, at times, in our relationships with those we love.

We cannot adjust the volume on others’ bitterness, wrath, or rage.

We can, however, choose our response.

Of course, this is easy to say and difficult to do.

To refrain from contending with those who contend requires great discipline. But that’s what it means to be a disciple. Jesus taught: “He that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention. … This is my doctrine, that such things should be done away” (3 Nephi 11:29–30).

When God speaks—even when He calls us to repentance—His voice is not likely to be “a voice of thunder, neither … a voice of a great tumultuous noise, but … a still voice of perfect mildness, [like] a whisper, [that pierces] even to the very soul” (Helaman 5:30).

As followers of Jesus Christ, we follow this example. We do not shame or attack others. We seek to love God and serve our neighbors. We seek to joyfully keep God’s commandments and live by gospel principles. And we invite others to do the same.

We cannot force anyone to change. But we can love them. We can be an example of what the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is all about. And we can invite all to come and belong.

When others throw insults at us, do we return fire?

There is a better way.

To some, we say nothing. To others, we state with quiet dignity who we are, what we believe, and why we believe. We stand confident in our faith in God, trusting that He will uphold us in our trials.

Let us be about our Father’s business.

We have enough work to do emulating Christ. We do that through learning to love God and reaching out to bless others.

Yes, there will still be conflict. But our all-powerful Father in Heaven has promised that He will fight our battles for us (see Exodus 14:13–14; Deuteronomy 3:21–22; Psalm 20:6; 34:17; Proverbs 20:22).

Jesus in Gethsemane

Christ in Gethsemane, by Harry Anderson

5. Our Heavenly Father is a God of new beginnings.

As long as we mortals tread on this wonderful, beautiful planet, we will make mistakes. This is not a surprise to God.

For this reason, He sent His Only Begotten Son to be born to a mortal woman, live a perfect life, and make a grand, eternal sacrifice that cleanses us from sin and opens the door to holiness, peace, and glory throughout eternity as we repent and have faith in Him.

Because of Jesus Christ, our mistakes, our sins—even our everyday sorrows, pain, disappointments, and frustrations—can be healed. Thanks to our Savior, such things need not prevent us from fulfilling our divine destiny!

The Savior invites us, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). He offers forgiveness and strength to improve. Because of Jesus Christ, we can leave our burdens behind, resolving each day to better follow Him.

Our Heavenly Father is the God of new beginnings. Every day, every hour, can be a fresh start—an opportunity to renew ourselves in the Holy Spirit and become better at walking as true and faithful disciples of the Savior. His gospel is the good news that we can begin again—we can become new creatures in Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:17).

I am not suggesting that we diminish or trivialize our sins and mistakes. We do not brush them under the carpet or try to hide them.

On the contrary, to receive God’s forgiveness, we must confess our sins. Only when we fully and honestly acknowledge our weaknesses can we learn from them and overcome them. We must humbly assess where we are before we can change course and progress to where we want to be.

In other words, we must repent!

As we partake of the sacrament, we remember the covenant we made at baptism to take the Savior’s name upon ourselves and walk in the path of discipleship. We approach the mercy seat of God and, in humility, lay our sins before Him as an offering of sacrifice and plead for His mercy. We recommit to loving and serving Him and to loving and serving others. We ask for His blessing as we dedicate our thoughts and actions to His service.

Do this, and you will feel the hand of God stretching out over you. The God of the universe will infuse you with the strength and motivation to do better.

There will be mistakes and stumbles in the future. But just as each sunrise signals the beginning of a new day, each time we repent we make a fresh start on our path of discipleship.

We can begin again.

God yearns for us to come to Him. His mercy is sufficient to heal our wounds, inspire us to move forward, cleanse us of sin, strengthen us for trials to come, and bless us with hope and His peace.

If we desire it with all our heart, God will guide us through this mortal life, and He will wait with open arms to embrace us in the Resurrection.

No matter our shortcomings, no matter our flaws, God can heal, inspire, and cleanse us.

He is the God of new beginnings.

Like you, I am a poor pilgrim who strives imperfectly to walk the path of discipleship and who hopes to fulfill the great desire of our Heavenly Father—to return to Him and live, with you, “in a state of never-ending happiness” (Mosiah 2:41).

I pray that you may find hope, strength, and joy in your journey, that you may find God and love Him with all your heart as you strive to bless the lives of others.

From an address given at BYU Education Week on Aug. 17, 2021, titled “Five Messages That All of God’s Children Need to Hear.”


  1. In one of His final discourses in mortality, Jesus taught His disciples what would happen at the Final Judgment, explaining that our eternal future will depend largely upon how we have treated others (see Matthew 25:31–40).