Good morning, Brothers and Sisters. This morning I was asked to speak on an address given by our prophet, President Thomas S. Monson in 2006 entitled,"The Master's Blueprint" and how it relates to missionary work. President Monson’s address talks about how we can become what he calls, “builders of eternal houses.” Essentially, President Monson talks about developing Christlike attributes that will help us return to live with our Heavenly Father.
President Monson said, “Paul, in his epistle to his beloved Timothy, outlined a way whereby we could become our better selves and, at the same time, provide assistance to others who ponder or ask the question, ‘How can I [find my way], except some man should guide me?’ The answer, given by Paul to Timothy, provides an inspired charge to each of us. Let us take heed of his wise counsel: “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” I’d like to first talk individually about each of these ways to be an example.
First, being an example in word and conversation. One key to being an example of the believers through word and conversations is by including your faith in word and conversation! It can often seem intimidating to talk about religion with friends and family because you don’t want to be preachy and blunt by putting your beliefs out there, but rather we can use them in everyday context and avoid these fears. What do I mean? Months ago, Brother Kaski gave an awesome talk and directly illustrated this point in his talk. I apologize if I don’t recount this story word for word or switch around some facts, but the gist will be the same. So Brother and Sister Kaski were visiting with some friends at their friend’s house. Their friends offered them some coffee and Brother Kaski declined. That could have been the end of it, no explanation about it, but this is where Brother Kaski put his faith into everyday conversation. He could have said no thank you, we don’t drink coffee, but instead he said no thank you and explained that in our church we follow what is known as the Word of Wisdom and he then proceeded to explain what the Word of Wisdom is. Simply put, the Word of Wisdom is the Lord's law as it relates to what we take into our bodies. It tells us to eat some things in moderation, and to abstain from other things. Following the Word of Wisdom helps us to keep our bodies and minds healthy and strong. It may not always be evident to those around us that the way we live is directly related to our faith. Creating a habit of being open and talking about our beliefs without seeming abrasive or like we’re pushing our beliefs allows us to be examples of the believers of Christ and also allow us to create an environment that will allow future gospel conversations to seem natural and comfortable.
Second, we are examples in charity. We can find in the chapter heading of chapter 13, in 1 Corinthians, “Charity, a pure love, excels and exceeds almost all else.” The scriptures state that without charity, we are nothing. In the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 13:2, it reads, “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. The Book of Mormon echoes this as it says in 2 Nephi 26:30, “Behold, the Lord hath forbidden this thing; wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing.” It is through these scriptures that we learn that charity is highest above almost all else. Charity is the pure love of Christ. Moroni 7: 47 reads, “But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.” As we read about Moroni speaking face to face with Christ we come to know that charity truly is the pure love of Christ. Ether 12:33-34, gives Moroni’s response to Christ saying, “And again, I remember that thou hast said that thou hast loved the world, even unto the laying down of thy life for the world, that thou mightest take it again to prepare a place for the children of men. And now I know that this love which thou hast had for the children of men is charity; wherefore, except men shall have charity they cannot inherit that place which thou hast prepared in the mansions of thy Father.” By following Christ’s example of love for all men and being charitable, we can return to our Heavenly Father.
Third, spirit. Elder Dallin H. Oaks said in this passed General Conference, “We are to live in the world but not be of the world. We must live in the world because, as Jesus taught in a parable, His kingdom is ‘like leaven,’ whose function is to raise the whole mass by its influence. His followers cannot do that if they associate only with those who share their beliefs and practices. But the Savior also taught that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments.” We learn through this that we can be the best example of believers in Christ by following his commandments. We also are examples by associating with many different people. As Elder Oaks said, we cannot be a positive influence by solely associating with those of the same belief. We can help strengthen and lift each other and be a light in the lives of those we come in contact with by following the commandments and living by the example of Christ. One commandment given by Christ can be found in Matthew 5:14-16. This commandment was given by Christ to his disciples as he directed them to be good examples. These verses read, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” It is the light of Christ that pulls us and influences us to do good. Every person ever born, in history, now, and in the future is influenced by the light of Christ for goodness. As we yield to that influence to do good and become good that light of Christ increases in us. Doctrine and Covenants 50:24 reads, “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.” As we continue to do what is good, we are examples of the believers in Christ and allow others to see our good works and as it says in Matthew, “glorify our father which is in heaven.”
Fourth, faith. Hebrews 11:1 reads, “ 1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Whenever you work toward a worthy goal, you exercise faith. You show your hope for something that you cannot yet see. Faith in God is more than a theoretical belief in Him. To have faith in God is to trust Him, to have confidence in Him, and to be willing to act on your belief in Him. It is a principle of action and power. The Lord does not ask us to have a perfect knowledge of things. Alma 32:21 reads, “And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” However, as I said, to have faith is to be willing to act on our belief in Christ. This is illustrated in Moroni 10:4-5 which reads, “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” To have faith is not to have a perfect knowledge, but rather to hope for those things which are not seen and then to pray and ask if those things in which we have faith are true. Ether 12:6 reads, “And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” Again, we learn from Moroni that we can receive a knowledge for ourselves as we put our faith to the test and ask through prayer if those things are not true. By doing so, we have been promised to know the truth by the power of the Holy Ghost.
Fifth, purity. Elaine S. Dalton said, “Virtue begins in the heart and in the mind. It is nurtured in the home. It is the accumulation of thousands of small decisions and actions. Virtue is a word we don’t hear often in today’s society, but the Latin root word virtus means strength. Virtuous women and men possess a quiet dignity and inner strength. They are confident because they are worthy to receive and be guided by the Holy Ghost.” As we remain clean and virtuous, we are worthy to receive the guiding influence of the Holy Ghost and return to live with our Father in Heaven.
While preparing for this talk, I found many parallels between 1 Timothy 4:12 and the 13th Article of Faith and after studying for this talk, I found much overlap scripturally between the two. The Articles of Faith are 13 statements that summarize our fundamental beliefs, the beliefs of our church and our beliefs as followers of Christ. The 13th Article of Faith begins, “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous and in doing good to all men.” We follow the guidance of Paul to, “Be thou an example of the believers,” as we also live the principles illustrated in the 13th Article of Faith.
We are honest and true. Being honest means telling the truth. Telling the truth means telling things exactly as they happen. The ultimate example of honesty can be learned from the Savior in the New Testament. After being brought before the high priest on false charges, Christ was questioned by Caiaphas. Mark 14:61-62 says, “Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am” Matthew 26: 65-66 gives account of what happened next saying, “Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.” In the days preceding his death, the Savior prophesied of his death and resurrection, saying he would lay down his life that he might take it again. The Savior knew his life was in danger and that he would die if he said he was the Son of God, but he was honest. We can follow Christ’s example by being honest in all times, no matter the situation or outcome.
We are chaste and virtuous. Part of our Heavenly Father’s Plan of Happiness is for each of his children to come to earth to gain a physical body. Because of our physical bodies, we are able to experience tenderness, love, kindness, happiness, sorrow, disappointment, pain, and even the challenges of physical limitations. Simply stated, there are lessons we must learn and experiences we must have, as the scriptures describe, “according to the flesh.” When the Earth was created, Adam was places in the Garden of Eden, however, God said in Genesis 2:18, “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” And thus God created Eve to be a companion for Adam. 1 Corinthians 11:11 says, “Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” And so we learn that man and woman are intended to learn from, strengthen, bless and complete each other. The first commandment given to Adam and Eve as husband and wife was to multiply and replenish the Earth. Elder David A. Bednar said, “The commandment to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force today. Thus, marriage between a man and a woman is the authorized channel through which premortal spirits enter mortality. The power of procreation is spiritually significant. Misuse of this power subverts the purposes of the Father’s plan and of our mortal existence. Our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son are creators and have entrusted each of us with a portion of Their creative power. Specific guidelines for the proper use of the ability to create life are vital elements in the Father’s plan. How we feel about and use that supernal power will determine in large measure our happiness in mortality and our destiny in eternity.”
We are benevolent and do good to all men. Mosiah 2:17 reads, “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” Much of the Lord’s ministry was focused on service. President Monson said, “It was said of Jesus that He “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” Do we have the determination to do likewise? One line of holy writ contains a tribute to our Lord and Savior, of whom it was said, “[He] went about doing good.” Matthew 25: 40 reads, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” The Lord said to his disciples, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” It is by our actions towards those we come in contact with that we are an example of the believers in Christ and follow Christ’s guidance to love one another.
I’ve talked a lot about how we can be examples of the believers in Christ, but I’d also like to talk about how this can relate to missionary work.
It reads in Doctrine and Covenants 79:1, Missionaries are to go “in the power of the ordination wherewith [they have] been ordained, proclaiming glad tidings of great joy, even the everlasting gospel.” Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Work says, “Missionaries have authority to preach the gospel. When they are set apart by priesthood authority, they receive the right and privilege to represent the Lord. Along with the authority comes the responsibility to live worthy of the calling. As the Lord’s representative missionaries are to be ‘an example of the believers.’ Missionaries should strive to live according to God’s commandments and keep the covenants they’ve made in the temple; know the scriptures; be courteous, on time, and dependable; follow missionary standards of conduct, dress, and grooming; love the people with whom they serve and work. Missionaries honor Christ’s name by their actions.” Missionaries are called by a living prophet to be examples of the believers in Christ. As a representative of Christ, we act in a sense, on his behalf, through the way that we present ourselves and the Spirit that we carry. However, for missionaries to have the spirit, they must follow these principles. They must be open and willing to talk about the church and the gospel of Christ with those they meet, they are always looking for ways to give service, they have the light of Christ, they have faith in what they teach and put their faith to the test and they are pure. As representatives of Christ, missionaries lead by example and live by the teachings and example of Christ. Missionaries represent Christ in the way they speak. Missionaries teach in a loving and understanding manner, much like that of Christ’s, that beckons those they teach to come unto Christ and to bring with them all that they know to be true and let them add to it.
In closing, I’d like to share a scripture and my testimony. The Lord said to his disciples, “By this shall all men know, that ye are my disciples.” And Matthew 7:20, reads, “Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them.” By our actions, we can show those around us that we are believers in Christ by living the principles he taught. By doing so, we can come closer to Christ and return to our Heavenly Father. I am so grateful for the example of Christ and that if we strive our best to follow his example, we can return to live with our Father in Heaven again. I’m thankful for the many blessings that our Heavenly Father gives to each and every one of us. I know that my Heavenly Father loves me and that he loves all of his children, and I am so blessed to be able to serve them. I’m thankful to be able to serve the Lord and to be a representative of him. I know that our Savior loves us; that he lived and died, so that we can all return to our Father in Heaven. I’m thankful for a living prophet and the knowledge that I have that he is a true prophet of God. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I know that as we study the scriptures more, we can grow closer to our Savior and our Father in Heaven. I am so grateful for this knowledge that I have of Christ’s restored gospel.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.