To Act and Not Be Acted Upon part II

For this week’s post, I wanted to continue on the theme that I started last week in order to expand upon my thoughts.  I wanted to include these ideas last week but my post was already quite long and I needed to end it.  In any case, I also wanted to bring in the teachings of Jesus and His servants in order to help us draw nearer to our Savior–because ultimately that is the only way we can find lasting happiness and is truly the very best in life.

Jesus appearing at the temple in the land Bountiful among the Nephites

When Jesus appeared to the people in the Western Hemisphere (as recorded in The Book of Mormon), He taught them many of the same things that He taught those in Jerusalem (because His gospel is always the same).  One important lesson, known as the Sermon on the Mount in the New Testament and the Sermon at the Temple in The Book of Mormon, helped us to understand a little more about our power to choose how we will respond–and indeed that we have this power and can control it.

Sure we know that we shouldn’t kill, that was part of the Law of Moses; however, Jesus taught us that we shouldn’t even get angry with our brethren (see 3 Ne 12:21-25).  Now that is a hard law to live by!  How many of us are guilty of just getting angry?  How easy is it to “lose” our tempers?  The world would have us believe that getting angry is natural and even uncontrollable.  I have even heard people tell me that it is bad to try to control your anger because then you just pent it all up inside and eventually it will explode.  However, I believe that our Savior only gave us commandments which we can keep–why would He tell us to do something which He knew we wouldn’t be able to do?

The truth is we have the power of choice!  We can CHOOSE whether or not we will act out of anger or whether or not we will control those angry impulses. Is that possible?  President Thomas S. Monson, our living prophet today, definitely thinks so.  He said, “No one can make us angry. It is our choice. If we desire to have a proper spirit with us at all times, we must choose to refrain from becoming angry. I testify that such is possible.”  What an amazing thought!  This counsel doesn’t just apply to men, even though President Monson delivered the address to a gathering of the priesthood.  When we choose not to control our anger, we are choosing to be acted upon; however, we can live the higher law and we can choose to act–to control our anger.

In fact, anger can drive the Spirit away, as we see in this episode from Joseph Smith’s experience in translating The Book of Mormon:

During this time, Joseph Smith learned that the divine gift was with him only when he was worthy to be guided by the Spirit. David Whitmer recounted: “One morning when [Joseph Smith] was getting ready to continue the translation, something went wrong about the house and he was put out about it. Something that Emma, his wife, had done. Oliver and I went up stairs, and Joseph came up soon after to continue the translation, but he could not do anything. He could not translate a single syllable. He went down stairs, out into the orchard and made supplication to the Lord; was gone about an hour—came back to the house, asked Emma’s forgiveness and then came up stairs where we were and the translation went on all right. He could do nothing save he was humble and faithful.” (Chapter 9: Gifts of the Spirit,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, (2007),116)

The same is true for adultery (and, by association, fornication).  Jesus taught that we can control these emotions and not lose ourselves to lust (see 3 Ne 12:27-30).  This is another one of those powerful emotions that some in the world would claim we have no control over, but wherein the Savior is inviting us to act and not be acted upon.  When we choose to be acted upon, we let go of control and give in to these desires–or even make room for them–to the utter destruction of our souls.  When we choose to live the higher law and choose to act, we choose to be in control.  We choose not to let our thoughts wander, we choose not to view pornography, and we choose to conduct ourselves according to the highest standards of chastity.  This includes those who suffer from same-sex attraction or who feel a strong desire for intimacy outside the bonds of marriage.

I believe that we have a choice.  I believe that we were made to act and not merely be acted upon.  Please join me in becoming better and finding the best in life as we choose to have control and exercise our agency!  I am interested in your comments–please take some time to share with me your thoughts.  Have a tremendous week!

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