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Saturday, August 28, 2021

What Is the Best Way to “Put in Order [Our] Own House”?

             For my Come, Follow Me lesson this week, I studied Doctrine and Covenants 93. The revelation that is now Doctrine and Covenants 93 was given through the Prophet Joseph Smith on May 6, 1833, at Kirtland, Ohio. In this revelation, the Lord taught that “truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come” (verse 24).

            The Prophet Joseph Smith had an interesting way to teach the way to gain exaltation: “When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel – you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 268).

            The steps on the ladder of exaltation are the same for everyone. The first step is marked Faith in Jesus Christ, and the second one is marked Repentance. A ladder would not do anyone any good if the first step was way above where an individual can reach, and the same is true of the ladder to exaltation. Faith in Jesus Christ is within the reach of every person, and it prepares serious believers to take the next step, Repentance. Just as Jesus Christ “continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness,” He made it possible for each mortal to receive grace for grace (Doctrine and Covenants 93:13, 20).

            There are numerous principles taught in this revelation, but the principle for this post is contained in Doctrine and Covenants 93:43: “if you will be delivered you shall set in order your own house, for there re many things that are not right in your house.” This message was given to the First Presidency (Joseph Smith, Jun., Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G.. Williams.

            The command to “set in order your own house” does not mean to organize our closets and cabinets. The Lord was telling the leading Brethren to learn about light and truth and to teach it to others. As I studied this principle, I learned that God expects me to seek additional light and truth, and then I am to teach my new knowledge to my children. By learning all that I can learn about light, truth, and glory and then living according to that knowledge, I will be better prepared to share that knowledge with other people.

            Elder David A. Bednar took a phrase out of Doctrine and Covenants 93:50 for the topic of a General Conference talk – “More Diligent and Concerned at Home” – when he discussed three ways to “set in order your own house” (Ensign, Nov. 2009, 17-20). Here are some notes I took from his talk.

1. Express Love – and Show It.

We can begin to become more diligent and concerned at home by telling the people we love that we love them. Such expressions do not need to be flowery or lengthy. We simply should sincerely and frequently express love….

Each of us already knows we should tell the people we love that we love them. But what we know is not always reflected in what we do. We may feel unsure, awkward, or even perhaps a bit embarrassed.

As disciples of the Savior, we are not merely striving to know more; rather, we need to consistently do more of what we know is right and become better….

2. Bear Testimony – and Live It.

We also can become more diligent and concerned at home by bearing testimony to those whom we love about the things we know to be true by the witness of the Holy Ghost. The bearing of testimony need not be lengthy or eloquent. And we do not need to wait until the first Sunday of the month to declare our witness of things that are true. Within the walls of our own homes, we can and should bear pure testimony of the divinity and reality of the Father and the Son, of the great plan of happiness, and of the Restoration….

As disciples of the Savior, we are not merely striving to know more; rather, we need to consistently do more of what we know is right and become better.

We should remember that bearing a heartfelt testimony is only a beginning. We need to bear testimony, we need to mean it, and most importantly we need consistently to live it. We need to both declare and live our testimonies….

3. Be Consistent.

As our sons were growing up, our family did what you have done and what you now do. We had regular family prayer, scripture study, and family home evening….

Each family prayer, each episode of family scripture study, and each family home evening is a brushstroke on the canvas of our souls. No one event may appear to be very impressive or memorable. But just as the yellow and gold and brown strokes of paint complement each other and produce an impressive masterpiece [painting of a field of wheat], so our consistency in doing seemingly small things can lead to significant spiritual results. “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (Doctrine and Covenants 64:33). Consistency is a key principle as we lay the foundation of a great work in our individual lives and as we become more diligent and concerned in our own homes.

Being consistent in our homes is important for another reason. Many of the Savior’s harshest rebukes were directed to hypocrites. Jesus warned His disciples concerning the scribes and Pharisees: “Do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not” (Matthew 23:3). This strong admonition is sobering given the counsel to “express love – and show it,” to “bear testimony – and live it,” and to “be consistent.”

The hypocrisy in our lives is most readily discerned and causes the greatest destruction within our own homes. And children often are the most alert and sensitive when it comes to recognizing hypocrisy….

As we seek the Lord’s help and in His strength, we can gradually reduce the disparity between what we say and what we do, between expressing love and consistently showing it, and between bearing testimony and steadfastly living it. We can become more diligent and concerned at home as we are more faithful in learning, living, and loving the restored gospel of Jesus Christ….

            According to President Henry B. Eyring, the key for spiritually strengthening oneself and one’s family is to “help them grow in faith that Jesus Christ is their loving Redeemer” (“A Home Where the Spirit of the Lord Dwells,” Ensign, May 2019, 22-25). He said that when our children have faith in Jesus Christ,

… they will feel a desire to repent. As they do, humility will begin to replace pride. As they begin to feel what the Lord has given them, they will want to share more generously. Rivalry for prominence or recognition will diminish. Hate will be drive out by love. And finally, like it did for the people converted by King Benjamin, the desire to do good will fortify them against temptation to sin. King Benjamin’s people testified that they had “no more disposition to do evil.”

So building faith in Jesus Christ is the beginning of reversing spiritual decline in your family and in your home. That faith is more likely to bring repentance than your preaching against each symptom of spiritual decline.

You will best lead by example. Family members and others must see you growing in your own faith in Jesus Christ and in His gospel….

            Elder Bednar taught us three ways that we can become more diligent and concerned at home: “express love – and show it,” “bear testimony – and live it,” and “be consistent.” As we follow the counsel of Elder Bednar in our homes, our home will become a place where the Holy Ghost will dwell. There, our children can grow in faith, repent, develop humility, and have no more desire to do evil. I feel certain that this is what the Lord meant when He said, “put in order your own house” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:43).

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