The right to choose between good and evil and to act for ourselves is called agency. Even though we are free to choose our course of action, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions.
The consequences, whether good or bad, follow as a natural result of any choice we make. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting”.
(Galatians 6: 7-8 in the Bible)
Make Right Choices
When we choose to live according to God’s commandments, our agency is strengthened. Right choices increase our power to make more right choices. As we obey each of our Savior’s commandments, we grow in wisdom and strength of character. Our faith increases. We find it easier to make right choices.
When we follow the temptations and addictions of the world, we limit our choices. The following example suggests how this works. Imagine seeing a sign on the seashore that reads: “Danger—whirlpool. No swimming allowed here”. We might think that is a restriction. But is it?
We still have many choices. We are free to swim somewhere else. We are free to walk along the beach and pick up seashells. We are free to watch the sunset. We are free to go home.
We are also free to ignore the sign and swim in the dangerous place. But once the whirlpool has us in its grasp and we are pulled under, we have very few choices. We can try to escape, or we can call for help, but we may drown.
Ask God to Help Us
The Savior has told us how to escape the captivity of Satan. We must watch and pray always, asking God to help us withstand the temptations of Satan and the world. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always, lest ye be tempted by the devil, and ye be led away captive by him.”
(3 Nephi 18: 15 p. 443 in the Book of Mormon)
Heavenly Father and Savior will not allow us to be tempted beyond our power to resist. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (I Corinthians 10: 13 in the Bible)
The commandments of God direct us away from danger and toward eternal life and lasting happiness.
Be Not Weary in Well Doing
There is another important reason for keeping God’s commandments and having Him in our lives. We can spend our lives pursuing our own selfish pleasures and comforts and not necessarily breaking many commandments, but at the same time not doing much that helps others or being an instrument in God’s Hands in doing His work.
The apostle Paul said, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6: 9-10 in the Bible)
Many years ago when I was on a mission for our church in the South, I met a man that was raised in our church to be a good Christian, but in his 20’s he began to consider departing from his faith and following the worldly path of some of his associates.
One night he had a dream that an angel appeared to him with a stone tablet in each arm. One was blank and the other one was filled with writings. He knew from the dream that the blank tablet represented the eternal accomplishments and blessings if God was not in his life and he followed the worldly selfish pleasures that his associates were following.
On the second tablet were listed accomplishments in his life that would bring blessings and happiness to him that would continue even after death. Such blessings included a strong righteous family, helping many other people, freedom from the bondage of sin, guidance in his life from the Holy Spirit and special assignments from the Lord in building His kingdom.
He was old when I talked to him and he had chosen to keep God’s commandments and keep on His path of righteousness. He expressed the many blessings and personal happiness he had experienced as the accomplishments listed on the angel’s tablet became a reality in his life.
Gospel Principles p. 17 was used as a reference for some of the article.
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