Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Too Good

A few weeks ago we had a great lesson in Relief Society from the manual titled, "Valiant in the Cause of Christ". The whole lesson was great but there was one line in particular that was read and discussed that stuck out to me. I'll share the line with you shortly, so read on.

Have you ever thought that there was such a thing as being too good? If you do not now, think back to the time when you were a teen...maybe you were the one who people thought was "too good" or maybe you looked at others and thought that the things they did were silly and that they were "too good". Or that they or you were a "Molly Mormon" or a "Peter Priesthood". I think that we all have been and thought in one or both of these perspectives at some point in our lives, whether now, when we were younger, or both.

"You Cannot Be Too Good."

The line that so profoundly struck me was this great declaration from the Prophet Joseph Smith, “You cannot be too good." The word 'too' means "to an excessive extent" or "more than should be". So basically he stated clearly that we can't be overly good. There comes no point when the good that we choose to do and the righteous choices we make become too much when kept in balance with the guidance of the Spirit.

Of course we can excessively engage in something that is good, for example, we could read our scriptures (a good thing) too much if it was taking us away from being good parents. (I don't think too many of us have that problem, but it is just an example :) So it is possible for us to over exert ourselves in one area causing us to neglect other important and good things.But with that said, I want to move away from the exceptions and focus more on the wonderful side of this statement - "You cannot be too good."

Commandments Can Be Made Personal

The Lord said, “And they shall also be crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with com­mandments not a few, and with revelations in their time—they that are faithful and diligent before me” (D&C 59:4, emphasis added).

The commandments that we have received from God are not few in number but we can dig deeper by seeking and then following the personal revelations that we each can receive. I believe that the Lord expects this of us as He said, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is Perfect” (Mat. 5:48)."

President Hartman Rector, Jr. Of the First Council of the Seventy said, "[Set] personal commandments... You should make up your own special and specific list of commandments. Such commandments would depend on your own past experience and your own particular weaknesses.

I love this idea of personal commandments. There are so many things within the Church that are left without specific and exact command. There are many things that are left to our own personal choosing and thus require us to set these "personal commandments" or boundaries for ourselves.

My Personal Story of a Personal Commandment

I hesitate to bring up this personal example but I feel it will better illustrate the blessing of seeking and following these personal promptings and setting commandments or guidelines for ourselves. I also think that it perfectly illustrates Satan's desire to make us think we are being "too good".

Now the reason I hesitate to share this story is because I don't want you to think that I think I am just great or too good but what I hope to convey is that personal commandments can uplift us and strengthen us especially in our own areas of weakness. I also want to convey that although we all know we have much to work on and are trying our best, Satan can squeeze his way in and try to make us feel that what we are choosing to do is "too good" or rather that we are going overboard and/or being silly.

So here is my story. Just after I graduated from High School my best friend and I set a goal for ourselves. We often sat in front of her house in my car and talked about all sorts of things from boys to spiritual matters. On this particular occasion we talked about movies. We talked specifically about PG-13 movies.

By the end of the conversation we both had resolved to not watch PG-13 movies anymore. There was more to it than just a simple conversation between two teenage girls, I felt the Spirit confirm to me that this is what I was to do. I have not watched a PG-13 movie since. This of course was a personal decision, not a commandment given directly or specifically from the Church. For me it was a matter of my own weaknesses, the feeling I had when I watched these movies, and lastly the realization that almost all, if not all, of these movies had at least that "one part" or that "one scene".

As I have followed this "personal prompting and commandment" I have received blessings, and of course some opposition. The blessings were of my weaknesses being made stronger, my sensitivity to violence, language, and sex greatly heightened, and an increased amount of self-control.

As our journey began with this new boundary it was difficult at times but not too hard because we were generally together and so we went through it together. After that Summer we both went our separate ways to college. At first it became a little tougher. I often had to warn dates of my decision and sometimes I was greeted with simply a surprised look and others a more direct questioning of my choice. At times I wondered by Satan's encouragement, if I was being silly or if I had gone overboard in my choice. But after more time passed it became easier to forgo watching these movies. It became more natural and if others were to find out about my choice there reactions began to not matter so much to me. There now have even been instances where the material displayed in PG movies becomes offensive or hard for me to watch. The making and keeping of this personal goal or commandment has been a great blessing in my life.

Testimony

I know that what Joseph Smith said is true. "[We] cannot be too good." We can always be better. We can set personal commandments for ourselves. We can make personal decisions with the guidance of the Spirit which will strengthen our weaknesses and help us become better, not too good, but better.

I know that Satan will try to convince us otherwise. He will try to make us uncomfortable. He will try to make us feel silly or even weird. But I know that as we follow the commandments of the Lord and as we listen to the promptings of the Spirit and make choices in our lives accordingly we will be strengthened, we will become more sensitive to the Spirit, and we will gain greater self-control in our lives. I know that as we do these things we will draw closer to reaching this commandment given from the Lord, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is Perfect” (Mat. 5:48)." We will never be too good but we can become better as we strive to be more like our Father in Heaven and our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Pictures Courtesy of LDS.org

6 comments:

In The Doghouse said...

What an incredible post! Thanks for sharing your personal story. Many years ago my husband and I resolved not to watch R rated movies and we have even received "slack" from many because of that. I am so thrilled to hear that you have even raised your sights more and are surviving. You are so right... we can never be too good.

Lori said...

Wonderful post!! (sigh) I'm so glad to hear that the Spirit is there to help with those lessons. I sometimes leave feeling "That was great!" and other time "That was not as great." Thanks for sharing this and your own experiences. How's the sickness?? better I hope.

pam said...

I'm glad to know there is someone out there with me. Some times I feel all alone and no one cares (am I being too goodie)... Thanks for sharing, I too find a lot of PG and G movies I will not watch, my poor family don't get to do anything (smiles).. I have taught my family that they will not see PG-13 movies, I think they are just as bad as R and I seen only one and never again will I see one, its so sad when I have good members telling me you have to see this, oh its only one little scene; we forget so quickly and fall so fast. Thanks for sharing. and yes I have been called Molly Mormon from all those not so good Peter Mormons...

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

You know we're doing the Elder Christofferson talk for the General Conference Book Club this week, right? Well, read #2 in the Notes he added at the end of his talk. It totally goes along with your post here because it testifies that when we embrace our covenants and recieve the blessings of them we actually want MORE commandments. Great post. Thanks.

Becoming LDS said...

Stephanie,

That is funny that you'd mention that. I've already read it but only once. It goes to show you how quickly we can forget what we read and study. I had that quote highlighted boldly. I like to copy and paste the talks into word and then highlight them and add comments through the insert tab.

Anyway, I remember really liking that quote. Maybe that is what reminded me of this line from the lesson. I guess I need to go back and re-read. I'll be over to comment sometime soon.

But for those who'd like to read the quote here it is: 2. "Some see only sacrifice and limitations in obedience to the commandments of the new and everlasting covenant, but those who live the experience—who give themselves freely and unreservedly to the covenant life—find greater liberty and fulfillment. When we truly understand, we seek more commandments, not fewer..." Great quote.

Thanks for the reminder Steph.

Valerie said...

I studied that RS lesson and I concentrated on other parts and didn't really notice the quote you posted about. Thank you so much for posting about it. It really is an important point that I will ponder today. And your personal example is great. Thanks for sharing.