“Do What Is Right,” New Era, Feb. 1973, 4
“Do What Is Right”
We sing, “Do what is right; let the consequence follow.” (Hymns, no. 27.) Doing what is right requires making decisions—like deciding what kind of life you will lead, what your morals will be, whether or not you will ever smoke or drink or steal. If your mind is made up ahead of time as to what kind of life you will live, when temptation is placed before you, you will not have to make a quick decision. You will already know the answer.
Astronaut Don Lind said, “Don’t be intellectually embarrassed by things like faith, and testimony, and hanging on to principles. … It is a good idea to know what you stand for, what kind of person you want to be, what kind of principles you want to guide your life, before you get to the particular decisions involving those principles.”
We may know what path we are going to follow, but we must be tuned to recognize any inherent weakness we may have and try to overcome it before it attacks the very foundations of our lives. To ignore a weakness is evidence of character instability. To delay conquering a weakness is hazardous and often leads to greater infractions of God’s laws.
Do not expose yourselves to temptation, thinking your strength and power to resist are equal to the test you are subjecting yourself to. You may not be as strong as you think you are. Satan is real. Physical attractions and urges can sometimes be so strong and compelling that one’s power to resist is completely swallowed up and the weakness of the flesh prevails, resulting in sorrow and unhappiness throughout life. Be true to what you know is right. Don’t let the wrong people run your life. If you have a good idea, pursue it. Seek only clean and wholesome companionship. Go with the right crowd—young people of your own standards and ideals.
At a recent stake conference a young lady, Diane Cowles, gave this thought in her talk. “The teenage years are the most happy, carefree, learning, daring, miserable years we have. We want to be accepted by our peers. We don’t want them to think of us as … odd. We want to be in.”
No one wants to be thought of as odd. But as Latter-day Saints we are different. We know where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going. We have standards and principles set forth for us to follow.
We should be an example to everyone: family, friends, neighbors, the whole world. It is unfortunate that the rabble-rousers get the publicity and attention in the news media. The great majority of young people today are honest, clean, decent, and stand for what is good and right.
It was interesting to watch the young people at a recent political convention in Miami. How well behaved they were in their own “political convention,” and how respectful they were to the President of the United States when he spoke to them briefly. They represent a clearer picture of today’s young men and women than do those who were organized outside Convention Hall and who were well trained in disrupting law and order.
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are found many outstanding young people who set an example and lead the way for the whole world to follow. These are people who have made good decisions in their lives. They know what they want and where they are heading.
Sometimes when decisions are to be made, they aren’t necessarily those involving a temptation to do evil but are decisions that will affect our lives. Now and again word comes back to me about my being offered a chance to play baseball for the major leagues when I was a young man. I was offered an opportunity to try out for the big leagues. But I turned it down. Recently I was asked if there was any hesitation in my decision. There wasn’t. I didn’t take it to my folks or even consider it at all. I knew ahead of time what playing for the major leagues involved, and it wasn’t the life I wanted. Shortly after this, I was called to serve a mission.
I appeal to you to search for the good and beautiful in life. Avoid compromising or embarrassing situations. Think clean, wholesome thoughts and act accordingly. Avoid the dark and trysting places. Do not subject yourselves to unnecessary hazards or temptations. Safety lies in sweet companionships dominated by love and virtue, as exemplified in the life of Christ our Lord. Lose yourselves for others. Don’t become self-centered.
President David O. McKay said: “How perfectly our Lord and Savior set the example. He truly sought first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness; he lived in the spirit, he lived for the spirit; he did not seek to perpetuate his physical life but he sought to develop the spirit, living for others with God as the center. … If we could get that thought over to our young people … it would be sufficient to preserve them from temptation. Instead of thinking of themselves in the hour of temptation, if they would just forget self and think of mother and of father, of the good name of the family, and just lose themselves for a moment for somebody else, they would have the power to resist temptation.”
Carefully plan your life, set personal goals according to gospel standards, and chart an undeviating course to achieve those goals. Develop the quality of evaluation in your lives; cultivate strengths, self-mastery, and self-restraints; and stand firm for and live the principles and ideals the Savior has emphasized.
Your spirit, which is a child of God and lives eternally, will possess your present body forever. The Apostle Paul stated: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
“If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” (1 Cor. 3:16–17.)
In making decisions, in doing the right, make God the center of your lives. He is our Father. We are his children. His plan is to bless us. He sent his son to redeem and save us. Jesus is our example. He gave us the gospel plan to live and pattern our lives by. We must look ahead and plan for eternity because we belong to it.
How good is good enough? Each has a conscience. It is not easy to deceive our own conscience. Be honest with yourself. It is the only way to know. It will help you do what is right. I promise you the consequences will be good. They will lead you to happiness, joy, and eternal salvation in the kingdom of our Heavenly Father.