Sunday, April 18, 2010

Stewardship—a Sacred Trust

"We live in perilous times when many believe we are not accountable to God and that we do not have a personal responsibility or stewardship for ourselves or others. Many in the world are focused on self-gratification, put themselves first, and love pleasure more than they love righteousness. They do not believe they are their brother's keeper."

This quote comes from a talk given by the apostle Elder Quentin L. Cook during the October 2009 General Conference. In his talk entitled, "Stewardship—a Sacred Trust," Elder Cook addressed the nature of our stewardship here on the earth as children of our Heavenly Father. He spoke a great deal about service to our fellow men both individually and in great humanitarian efforts: "In all of our stewardship efforts, we follow Jesus Christ. We try to emulate what He has asked us to do, both by His teachings and His example."

However, I wish to focus on another side of his talk, the side of agency and accountability. As stated above, many in the world today do not believe that they are accountable for any of their actions. The oft-heard phrase, "it's my life, who am I hurting," is used to justify actions not upheld by the Savior's teachings. In defense of tolerance and acceptance, personal morality—virtue and chastity—as defined by God and Jesus Christ is no longer respected.

A war in heaven was fought so that we would have the chance not only to come to earth and gain the blessings of having a physical body but also to be able to learn, progress, and grow towards gaining eternal life through the righteous use of our agency. Said Elder Cook, "we have our moral agency and the freedom to choose our course in this life. But we also are accountable for that agency."

The Atonement of Jesus Christ makes eternal life even possible. We are mortal, we make mistakes. We are free to choose and we aren't forced to choose the lifestyle taught by the Lord, but we must live with the consequences of our actions. Elder Cook reiterated the teachings of all the prophets, "Through the Savior's Atonement, all can repent and return . . . to a clean and pure state."

We are free to choose in this life. We are also accountable for the choices and decisions we make. Although our actions may not seem to have any lasting effect right now, we will be held accountable for our everything we do, including those actions that are contrary to God's will. The world may increasingly accept alternative, immoral, and destructive lifestyles and actions under the facade of tolerance and acceptance, but our Heavenly Father does not and will not tolerate any action contrary to His teachings. "I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance." Yet, in His infinite mercy, the Lord also said, "Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven" (D&C 1:31-32).

"This feeling of accountability, which is encompassed by the first great commandment to love God, has been described by some as 'obedience to the unenforceable.' We try to do what is right because we love and want to please our Father in Heaven, not because someone is forcing us to obey."

We have a great power and responsibility concerning our agency. Agency is one of the greatest gifts God has given us. And if we use our agency properly, we shall be "crowned with glory, even with the presence of God the Father" (D&C 88:19). The sacrifice of the short-term gratification is worth the wait of eternal happiness together with our families and Father in Heaven.