Robert D. Hales has been in poor health for many years, yet he keeps bouncing back and giving us sweet, sustaining, powerful talks. I bet he wishes he could move on, but this is his willing sacrifice, as a true disciple of the Lord, to endure to the very end.
We don’t talk about sacrifice much these days. There are simply too many ways to avoid it now. But God requires sacrifice from each one of us in order to enter His kingdom. I think Elder Hales was gently reminding us of this when he made these statements:
“There were many who claimed to be righteous in one or another aspect of their lives. They practiced what I have called selective obedience.”
“Faith is a catalyst. Without works, without virtuous living, our faith is without power to activate discipleship.”
“Now is the time to recommit ourselves to being His disciples with all diligence.”
I have often thought of the contrast between Jesus Christ’s purpose in life to my own. How did He stay focused on His mission without getting sidetracked repeatedly? How did He not want to have, or do, anything that was His very own? How did He always think “my Father’s will” before “my will” in everything He did?
All of this is based on sacrifice. I believe one of Satan’s greatest tools is getting us to ignore the law of sacrifice. Satan wants us to get sidetracked in getting it all, getting what we deserve, and getting justice as much as we can. Some members make sacrifices all right, but maybe those sacrifices are at the expense of their covenants.
We’ve all had friends and family torn up over certain tests they have to struggle with in this life. Some leave the church over it. Many complain so loudly they cause others to question their own struggles. President Henry B. Eyring said,
“The great test of life is to see whether we will hearken to and obey God’s commands in the midst of the storms of life. It is not to endure storms, but to choose the right while they rage. And the tragedy of life is to fail in that test and so fail to qualify to return in glory to our heavenly home. … What we will need in our day of testing is a spiritual preparation. It is to have developed faith in Jesus Christ so powerful that we can pass the test of life upon which everything for us in eternity depends. That test is part of the purpose God had for us in the Creation” (Spiritual Preparedness: Start Early and Be Steady,” Ensign, Nov. 2005).
Satan wants us to fail by wanting to fulfill our desires more than pleasing God. But, each one of us covenanted in our first estate to “prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them” (Abr. 3:25).
Our challenge is to trust in that covenant we made in heaven. We were disciples then and we must fight to remain disciples now. The reward will be worth it.
“It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am” (D&C 93:1).
“For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory” (D&C 58:4).
“Let no man be afraid to lay down his life for my sake; for whoso layeth down his life for my sake shall find it again” (D&C 103:27).
Coming down to this earth was our opportunity to show Heavenly Father that we could overcome any obstacle of faith because our faith would be stronger. Jesus knew we would encounter weakness and temptation, yet, because this earth life is a test, He tests us–sometimes brutally–on what we are willing to sacrifice in His name.
“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward” (Matt. 10:37-41).
This may be hard for some to hear, but if we desire to be Jesus Christ’s disciples we have to be willing to give up all that we know and love for the greater love that is found in Him.
Elder Daniel L. Johnson simply stated, “Becoming like Him and being one with Him is the ultimate goal and objective—and essentially the very definition of true discipleship” (Daniel L. Johnson, “Becoming a True Disciple,” Ensign, Nov. 2012).
I would like to suggest a challenge to everyone who reads Elder Hales’ talk. Search your soul to discover where you stand, and recommit again to side with the Savior. The truth of the matter is that we all tend to be “part-time disciples,” but the day has come when this will not save us. May we be willing to “stand up inside by being valiant and all in” (Elder Gary B. Sabin, “Stand Up Inside and Be All In,” Ensign, May 2017). May we be willing to make those important sacrifices that will convince the Lord that we desire to be His completely.