December 18, 2007

"Walk in the light as fast as you see it"

Parley P. Pratt April 7, 1856 From the Book of Mormon comes a beautiful explanation on the paradox of grace and works. In the vision of Lehi, an iron rod, there by the grace of God, leads us home if we hold to it and walk. Through that process divine aid helps us on the journey, but we are involved in the process. One prophet describes Christ as saving people from, not in, their sins.

...the Lord surely should come to redeem his people, but that he should not come to redeem in them in their sins, but to redeem them from their sins (Helaman 5:10).
Likewise, Parley told the Saints it was not right to indulge in sin, knowing they could be forgiven. If one loves the truth and walks in the light, the Lord will change such an attitude:
A man cannot be righteous of his own will and without the Spirit of the Lord; there is no assurance for men, they cannot have the Spirit unless they determine to walk in the light as fast as they see it. Those who promise to repent, but want to indulge in sin a little longer, do not repent, and their hearts are not fit for the kingdom of God. That man is on the right track who always loved the truth, and lived up to it, as far as he could, with all his exertions, and walked in the light thereof every day, and every time he saw a little more truth obeyed it, and if he did anything at all it was his purpose continually to avoid error and walk in the truth. If he failed at any time it was his weakness, his error of judgment, his mistake, his temptation; it was not because he did not want to do right, or to put it off purposely and choose sin; but it was through his weakness and temptation.
There is hope in this continual imperfection; Christ's atonement is sufficient for it. Our attitude directly affects how the atonement can help us. The sacrament prayers illustrate this principle, as we witness to God while partaking of the bread and water, that we are willing to take upon us Christ's name, that we are willing to keep His commandments; not that we are perfect in those things, but that we truly desire them. We are promised, based on that attitude, the Holy Ghost will be with us to prompt and change us, to fill us with charity (see D&C 20:77-79). A willing attitude is critical:
…it will never do to cry for spilt milk, but try again; and if you cannot overcome at first, try again, and keep trying until you overcome. But when a man is not trying, but loves to live in sin, but still says every day, "I am going to be a good 'Mormon,'" I have but little hope of such a man, and I generally say to him, you will not do it, for the Lord will not give you His Spirit when you please to get ready to repent. But the honest man says, "I have been brought to see the truth, and I will do the best I know, though I have a thousand traditions, and though I make a thousand mistakes, and my brethren have to bear with me, yet I will do the best I can, and will be willing to try again; and if I find myself weak and unable to progress and overcome, I will pray that the good Spirit and the strength of the Lord may help me." When a man talks in this way, there is hope in his case; I don't care how such traditions have been entwined around him, or how many blunders he may make; I say there is hope in those who seek diligently to learn their duties, and endeavor to live up to them; and this makes me have hope for this people and for myself.
Parley knew we need to put God first, and attitude makes all the difference:
But when a man is careless and indifferent to the blessings of providence, and keeps putting off his repentance, and is continually looking after the things of this life, the Lord don't want such a man; he has no use for him, and damnation awaits such a man, and he will have to wait patiently for the return of the good Spirit to again lead him to repentance. Such a man won't prosper, for a man that will fix his own business first, and then serve God, he is not worthy of Him. He has no business with his own business, his business is to serve God, he has no other business; as I said, whether preaching or whatever place he may be in, he should have but one object in view-the kingdom of God. In whatever part of the earth he may be located, whether among the Saints or in the very midst of wickedness, and where the power of the devil holds sway, it is his duty to preach righteousness faithfully before the people.
As Parley said, it becomes us to walk in the light as fast as we see it. (Here I can't help but quote a simple but beautiful children's song. It calls me back to my youth, and likely elicited some of my earliest experiences with the Spirit that I can still remember): Teach me to walk in the light of his love. Teach me to pray to my Father above. Teach me to know of the things that are right; Teach me, teach me to walk in the light. Come little child and together we’ll learn of his commandments, that we may return home to his presence to live in his sight- always, always, to walk in the light. Father in Heaven we thank thee this day for loving guidance to show us the way. Grateful we praise thee with songs of delight! Gladly, gladly, we’ll walk in the light. Words and music: Clara W. McMaster, b. 1964. C 1958 LDS Copyright renewed 1986.

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