Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Are You Looking for Joy?

My Come Follow Me studies for this week took me to the books of First John, Second John, Third John, and Jude in a lesson titled “God Is Love.” The lesson was preceded by this counsel: “As you read the Epistles of John and Jude, seek inspiration about how you can show your love to God. Record these impressions and act on them.” The lesson was then introduced with the following information. 

When John and Jude wrote their epistles, corrupt doctrine had already started leading many Saints into apostasy. Some false teachers were even questioning whether Jesus Christ had actually appeared “in the flesh” (see, for example, 1 John 4:1-3; 2 John 1:7). What could a Church leader do in such a situation? The Apostle John responded by sharing his personal witness of the Savior: “This is the testimony which we give of that which was from the beginning which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life” (Joseph Smith Translation, 1 John 1:1 [in 1 John 1:1, footnote a]. And then John taught about love: God’s love for us and the love we should have for Him and all His children. After all, John was a witness of that, too. He had personally experienced the Savior’s love (see John 13:23; 20:2), and he wanted the Saints to feel that same love. John’s testimony and teachings on love are just as needed today, when faith in Jesus Christ is questioned and false teachings abound. Reading John’s epistles can help us face today’s adversities with courage, for “there is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18).

These books contain numerous principles, but I feel prompted to write on a principle found in the Sunday School lesson: “Joy comes as we help others ‘walk in truth’” (3 John 1:1-4). John wrote that he had “no greater joy” than hearing that Gaius (one of the people that he called his “children”) was walking in truth. We will start by reading the applicable scripture. 

1 The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.

2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

3 For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.

4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. (3 John 1:1-4)

The lesson mentioned several scriptures that discusses helping others to walk in truth (Deuteronomy 6:6-7; Proverbs 22:6); John 4:36; 1 Thessalonians 3:9; Mosiah 4:14-15; Alma 26:11-37; D&C 50:22), but I will share only two of them (Alma 17:1-2 and Doctrine and Covenants 18:10-16).

1 And now it came to pass that as Alma was journeying from the land of Gideon southward, away to the land of Manti, behold, to his astonishment, he met with the sons of Mosiah journeying towards the land of Zarahemla.

2 Now these sons of Mosiah were with Alma at the time the angel first appeared unto him; therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God. (Alma 17:1-2)

10 Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;

11 For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.

12 And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance.

13 And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth!

14 Wherefore, you are called to cry repentance unto this people.

15 And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!

16 And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me! (Doctrine and Covenants 18:10-16)

Elder Ulisses Soares (member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) spoke about the joy of missionary work while speaking at the New Mission Leadership Seminar on June 25, 2019. He shared five principles to help mission leaders and missionaries find joy in the work and establish a culture of joy.

1. Feeling joy increases our desire to share the gospel with others….

Joy is at the heart of God’s plan for the salvation of His children…. As we experience this joy in our service, we and our missionaries can become modern Ammons and be instruments in the Lord’s hands to convert thousands of God’s children….

2. Joy is a principle of power.

The power of joy can influence the lives of many, the same way it did with Ammon and the Lamanite people. [He shared the conversion of Baptiste Prevot, a young French man who converted to the gospel as a foreign exchange student in Canada.] “I felt surrounded by joy, light, and immeasurable love – very similar to what those missionaries reflected in their countenances.” …

3. Our joy can be contagious.

Cultivating an attitude of joy in a mission is a matter of decision – one with long-lasting impact….

The joy we find in the service of the Lord has the power to influence our missionaries during their service and for the rest of their lives…. Being a good example of what we teach is the best teacher….

I testify to you that as we experience and radiate joy in the service of the Lord, we can influence and motivate our missionaries to experience the same. Our joy must be reflected in all of our interactions.

4. “Forget yourself and get lost in this great cause.”

[Attributing the above quote to President Gordon B. Hinckley, Elder Soares said:]

I testify to you that by losing ourselves in the Lord’s work, with our eye single to the glory of God, a new light will enter our lives and a renewed joy will fill our hearts. There is no other service in the world that brings more joy in our life than this.”

5. Focusing on Jesus Christ, we can feel joy even in the face of opposition and rejection.

I invite you to help your missionaries incorporate this principle in their hearts now, because life after the mission will bring trials that sometimes feel like more than we can endure…. If missionaries learn to rely upon Jesus Christ during their missions, they will ‘rejoice,’ experience ‘exceeding joy,’ and have the strength to overcome their life challenges.

When was the last time that you rejoiced or felt “exceeding joy”? Ancient and modern-day prophets and apostles teach that we can feel such joy by helping other people to come unto Jesus Christ.


No comments:

Post a Comment