To those who bear the standards of truth, opposition is bound to arise and courage is needed to do what is right, but God will bless those who stand for the right.
That message, repeated often during the 184th Annual General Conference, April 5-6, should be a great comfort to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
“We live in a world where moral values have, in great measure, been tossed aside, where sin is flagrantly on display, and where temptations to stray from the straight and narrow path surround us,” President Thomas S. Monson said in his address during the priesthood session of conference. “We are faced with persistent pressures and insidious influences tearing down what is decent and attempting to substitute the shallow philosophies and practices of a secular society.
“Because of these and other challenges, decisions are constantly before us which can determine our destiny. In order to make the correct decisions, courage is needed — the courage to say ‘No’ when we should, the courage to say ‘Yes’ when that is appropriate, the courage to do the right thing because it is right.”
We will, he said, “almost certainly be called upon to defend that which we believe.”
Every six months, general conference serves as a powerful reminder that the Lord has called a prophet, apostles and other leaders to guide a troubled world and to provide instruction, perspective and encouragement to its inhabitants. This conference was no exception. The speakers provided scripture, perfectly tailored and suited for our times. What they said was both inspiring and spiritually edifying. It gave answers to all that may ail people in a confused world.
Those who are not members of the Church may have pondered what God would say were He to speak to the world today. President Monson provided powerful answers to that question.
“We cannot truly love God if we do not love our fellow travelers on this mortal journey,” he said in his Sunday morning address. “Likewise, we cannot fully love our fellow men if we do not love God, the Father of us all.”
In a sermon on love as the “essence of the gospel,” he urged all to treat each other with kindness and respect, especially at home. “Let us not demean or belittle. Rather, let us be compassionate and encouraging. We must be careful that we do not destroy another person’s confidence through careless words or actions.”
This seemingly simple message grows in profundity as we contemplate the tenor of daily communications on social media, talk radio, political discourse or in comments attached to blogs and news stories on the Internet. Even casual observers cannot miss how hurtful and belittling much of daily communication has become.
“May we begin now, this very day, to express love to all of God’s children, whether they be our family members, our friends, mere acquaintances, or total strangers,” President Monson said. “As we arise each morning, let us determine to respond with love and kindness to whatever might come our way.”
Imagine what a difference would occur in the world if everyone followed this prophetic counsel. Imagine the encouragement people would feel; the increase in feelings of self-worth; and the comfort that would come to those who feel friendless or who mourn.
Imagine the difference it would make if all Latter-day Saints followed their prophet in this regard, no matter how they might be treated in return. Paraphrasing the author and lecturer Dale Carnegie, President Monson said, “Each person has within himself or herself the power to increase the sum total of the world’s happiness.”
President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, encouraged people who agonize over loved ones who have strayed to “take both the short and the long view.”