In this dispensation obedience followed by sacrifice is critical to our salvation, and the spirit of sacrifice is a special blessing to those with broken hearts and contrite spirits. We Latter-day Saints seek to learn how we can be blessed each day by Heavenly Father and to find an abiding personal testimony of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Dear brothers and sisters, only faith coupled with works can bring us the greatest blessings in this life and in the eternities.
God promises us joy equal to our obedience when we keep His laws, listen to them, learn them, and put them into practice. So, obedience is to do the will of our Heavenly Father, and we are nourished when we follow His ways (I Nephi 17:3).
What do we mean by “living a life of devotion and obedience”? First, in a spiritual sense, we sacrifice by obeying all that Heavenly Father commands. Where and when do we do this? We seek to do Heavenly Father’s will in our daily lives, in our homes, at church, and in our communities. The world should see in us a reflection of the image of Christ because, in obeying Him, we receive His spirit. We do what pleases Him, and we become that which He wishes us to be, even as He is. Those who have obeyed have received great blessings because these blessings are linked to promises. Abraham obeyed by sacrificing his son Isaac without judging God, and today he is the father of nations. Noah carried out the instructions he received from God and saved his family. Joseph Smith, son of a humble family, could have sold the gold plates to gain wealth and honour, but instead, his sacrifice helped to save humanity from God’s anger and to bring exaltation to many generations. In like manner, many other Saints today obey and sacrifice by faithfully living the gospel to save their own souls and those of their family members.
Sacrifice means to give the Lord all that He requires of our time, our means, and our being.
“Thus we see that sacrifice motivated by faith and hope produces a great change in our life and a desire to obey God and to serve in His church.”
“And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?” (Alma 5:14) Then, of heads of families, of family members, and of church leaders, Alma asks: “I say unto you, can ye think of being saved when you have yielded yourselves to become subjects to the devil? I say unto you, ye will know at that day that ye cannot be saved; for there can no man be saved except his garments are washed white. . . purified. . . cleansed from all stain, through the blood of [our Saviour]” (Alma 5: 20-21). And then you will be saved by the infinite grace of a good and loving God. The day of our repentance is today.
Very often the devil shows us his delights, his intention being to catch the eye and tug at the heart, pitting our faith against his seductions, be it gold and silver, honour and success, triumph, tribalism, effortless miracles, influence, the power to walk over those under us—in short, he causes us to believe the opposite of 3 Nephi 13:32, 33 which remind us: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” We have been counselled in Matthew and John, “Do not be troubled. . . for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.” We have the great promise in Matthew 16:19: “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” Then at the end, the King shall say unto His obedient people: “Inherit the kingdom [because of your obedience and sacrifices for Me and others] prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).
What sacrifice ought we to offer by our obedience to God? It should be that of serving His sons and daughters today with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. He says to His children, “Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day” (D&C 4:2, 3).
“And no one can assist in this work except he shall be humble and full of love [toward God and his fellow man,] having faith, hope and charity, being temperate in all things, whatsoever shall be entrusted to his care” (D&C 12:8).
This act, this attitude, this performance of all sacrifice for and in the Lord, serves to make a man holy if, and only if, he gives up the pleasures of the world in behalf of others as did Jesus Christ.
Here are some of the priorities we can demonstrate to show our love for Heavenly Father: keep the Sabbath day holy, prepare to perform priesthood ordinances, become active in doing family history, counsel together at church and at home, follow the Saviour’s example as a good shepherd, and prepare to partake of the sacrament worthily. These are the things which draw us nearer to our Saviour.
I testify that the restoration of the gospel is a blessing to me, my wife, our children, and our forebears. I know with all my heart that without humility, which is born of obedience, and because of Christ’s redeeming sacrifice, humans would not have the possibility of exaltation. We truly have a representative of our Father in Heaven in Thomas S. Monson, the living prophet, seer, and revelator, and in the twelve obedient and devoted men who have been called as apostles in our day. I sustain them and love them with all my heart.
1 “Obedience Brings Blessings,” Thomas S. Monson, April 2013 General Conference