"They were in captivity, and again the Lord di deliver them out of Bondage by the power of his word" - Alma 5:5
Some things I am willing to do today to receive His Word
I open the scripture sporadically at best. Weeks go by in which you might say, I've nailed down the scripture habit, and then something disrupts the schedule and I don't crack the book on my own for weeks at a time. Not that I don't think about it. but there is always, it seems, something else in the way.
The irony of all this is that pornography comes so easily. Or it would. It's a daily fight to resist the temptation to view pornography. Can you imagine that kind of compulsion to read the scriptures?
I've thought about this a lot. Pornography and other serious addictions aside, why is it so easy to keep turning the pages of a good novel or turn on one more episode of that show on Netflix, and yet its so difficult to spend even ten minutes a day in the Word?
Yeah, I think it has something to do with all of these things. I enjoy being in another world, focused on someone else' successes and failures so I don't have to worry about my own. TV is fun, entertaining, and distracting. It is easier than facing the work I have to do, the problems that need solving, the character flaws that need addressing.
Scriptures, though, they are instruments of change. They are spiritual weight machines. A visit to the doctor, the counselor, the financial planner. When I read the scriptures, it forces me to consider my spiritual health, to consider the state of my spiritual bank account.
Just the other day I was planning an FHE lesson on honesty, and found myself feeling like a hypocrite. Studying the words of prophets and the scriptural stories that underscore the importance of honesty, I could see places in my life where I could be more honest. Where I could face the truth with more integrity. And that is painful. Its much easier to turn on the television.
So, the Word...what am I willing to do to receive His word in my heart? For starters, I'm willing to face the reality of my life as I read the scriptures. I am willing to act on the promptings of the Holy Ghost as they come to me. I am willing to take advantage of the resourcess out there.
I am willing to listen to a conference talk on my way home from work.
I am willing to read the Ensign magazine each month.
I am willing to pray over my studies, and ask for help and guidance and strength.
I am willing to listen to promptings and act on them.
I am willing.
Really, that's all I've got, my will. And this is perhaps why it is so hard. My addiction has sapped some of my will. and I am fighting to get it back (and also FRIGHTENED to get it back. When I acknowledge that my decisions come down to an exercise of my will (even in the face of addiction) then I must take responsibility for my actions.
In general conference this past weekend, Russell M. Nelson spoke on Self Mastery.
A pivotal spiritual attribute is that of self-mastery—the strength to place reason over appetite. Self-mastery builds a strong conscience. And your conscience determines your moral responses in difficult, tempting, and trying situations.
Self-mastery is a "pivotal spiritual attribute," meaning that other spiritual attributes and abilities turn on our relative self-mastery. This is really a profound statement. Our ability to live and work and serve in the Kingdom (in our homes, in our callings, in our communities) is directly related to our own level of self-mastery. God really does want our wills, and nothing else.
Elder Nelson goes on to say:
Why the need for self-mastery? God implanted strong appetites within us for nourishment and love, vital for the human family to be perpetuated. When we master our appetites within the bounds of God’s laws, we can enjoy longer life, greater love, and consummate joy.Self-mastery and human appetite are intrinsically linked--whether that be appetites for food, sex, wealth, praise, or whatever, and those appetites are an essential part of our growth as human beings (and I'd say, based on D&C 93:33-34 that learning to master these appetites is an essential part of our eternal progression as well).
So I might measure my own progression by measuring my own self-mastery...
...and I might measure my own self-mastery by looking critically at my willingness to turn my WILL over to God...
....and my willingness to turn my WILL over to God is directly related to my willingness to TRUST the Savior and follow his example, relying on his atonement to overcome my weaknesses...
and I gain trust, respect, and faith in the Savior by reading his Word and applying it in my life.
If this is true, then receiving His WORD is really the first step in the long process of self-mastery.