5 Commandment-Keeping Myths … Busted

    “5 Commandment-Keeping Myths … Busted,” New Era, September 2016, 26–29

    5 Commandment-Keeping Myths … Busted

    Still not perfect yet? It’s OK. Here’s why.

    Commandment-Keeping Myths Busted

    Illustration by John Kachik

    Ever feel like you don’t measure up? First, remember that no one is perfect. We all “come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And second, give yourself a break! You’re probably doing better than you think. Here are some common myths about keeping commandments, along with some facts to keep in mind.

    Myth #1: God expects perfection now.

    Fact: He knows we will struggle. He is pleased when we do our best and keep trying.

    Heavenly Father doesn’t expect us to do everything perfectly right now; He does expect us to do our best and then to have faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ to help us change.

    Myth #2: I keep making the same mistakes. I might as well give up, because I can’t change.

    Fact: When we keep trying and turn to God, He can help us change—no matter what.

    The whole point of this life is to change—to become, to grow, and to learn so that one day we can become like our Father in Heaven (see Gospel Topics, “Becoming Like God,” topics.lds.org).

    But we have to make the choice to change.

    Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy warned, “Once any of us conclude[s,] ‘That’s just the way I am,’ we give up our ability to change” (Apr. 2014 general conference). So whatever we do, we shouldn’t give up.

    When we choose to change, that doesn’t mean we’ll be perfect right away (see myth #1). But it can mean that our heart wants to be obedient and that we’ll keep trying again whenever we fall short of where we want to be. When we make that choice to turn to God, He will give us strength beyond the strength we’d have on our own—and He will help us change.

    Myth #3: Everybody else is doing better than I am.

    Fact: God doesn’t judge us by comparison. We shouldn’t either.

    Don’t worry if you think others are doing much better than you.

    And remember, “We are not in a race against each other. … The race we are really in is the race against sin” (Jeffrey R. Holland, Apr. 2012 general conference). So just try to do your best to become better each day.

    Myth #4: I know I should be better. I’m just not good enough.

    Fact: God knows our limitations. He won’t measure us against an impossible standard.

    Sometimes we assume we know how God will judge us. But He reminds us, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Isaiah 55:8). He is the perfect judge, and He judges with a perfect understanding of our situation.

    Think of it this way: If you try to jump as high as you can right now, you can probably jump pretty high. But if you try it again while holding 20 pounds of weight, you won’t be able to jump as high. Does that mean you aren’t as good now as you were before? No. You didn’t change; your circumstances did.

    Sometimes we have to deal with heavy things. God knows what you’re capable of, but He also understands better than you do what your limitations are. He will judge with that understanding in mind. He just wants us to do the best we can with what we have.

    President Thomas S. Monson has said, “Our task is to become our best selves. One of God’s greatest gifts to us is the joy of trying again, for no failure ever need be final” (“The Will Within,” Apr. 1987 general conference). So believe in yourself and God, and keep trying.

    Myth #5: Commandments are too restrictive; they take away my agency.

    Fact: Commandments lead us to incredible freedom and blessings.

    Rather than restricting our agency, commandments open our lives to more freedom and blessings—they’re like a how-to booklet for happiness (see D&C 82:8–9). President Dieter F. Uchtdorf has said, “Maybe obedience is not so much the process of bending, twisting, and pounding our souls into something we are not. Instead, it is the process by which we discover what we truly are made of. …

    “We come to see obedience not as a punishment but as a liberating path to our divine destiny. … Eventually, the priceless, eternal spirit of the heavenly being within us is revealed, and a radiance of goodness becomes our nature” (“He Will Place You on His Shoulders and Carry You Home,” Apr. 2016 general conference).

    So the next time you feel like you just don’t measure up, remember that you are a divine son or daughter of heavenly parents—a royal soul with infinite potential.

    And that is what Heavenly Father sees in you—that’s why He gives commandments.