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President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said the purpose of his message to members of the Church was twofold. “The first is to urge us to contemplate and consider the extent to which we use fear to motivate others — including ourselves. The second is to suggest a better way.”

Rather than fear, “God motivates through persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, and love unfeigned,” President Uchtdorf explained. “God is on our side. He loves us, and when we stumble He wants us to rise up, try again, and become stronger. He is our mentor. He is our great and cherished hope. He desires to stimulate us with faith. He trusts us to learn from our missteps and make correct choices. This is the better way.”

In his address during the Sunday morning session of general conference on April 2, President Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, explained that historically, fear has often been used to get people to take action. “Parents have used it with their children, employers with employees, and politicians with voters.”

Fear can have a powerful influence over actions and behavior, however, “that influence tends to be temporary and shallow. Fear rarely has the power to change our hearts, and it will never transform us into people who love what is right and who want to obey Heavenly Father.

“People who are fearful may say and do things that are right, but they do not feel the right things,” President Uchtdorf said.

Unfortunately, “this misguided approach” is not limited to the secular world. “It grieves me to hear of Church members who exercise unrighteous dominion — whether in their homes, Church callings, at work, or in their daily interactions with others,” President Uchtdorf said.

Some individuals are tempted to justify their actions by believing that the end justifies the means. “Not so,” President Uchtdorf said, “for the Lord has made it clear, ‘the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, [and] temperance,’ (Galatians 5:22-23).”

So how does God motivate His children today? President Uchtdorf asked. “God sent His Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ to show us the right way.”

The world is imperfect and “the corruption and wickedness in our day are unique and alarming,” he said. However, members today are blessed to have the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“When I think of these blessings, I want to fall to my knees and offer praises to our Heavenly Father for His never-ending love for all of His children.”

President Uchtdorf said he does not believe that God wants His children to dwell on the evils in the world. “Rather than dwelling on the immensity of our challenges, would it not be better to focus on the infinite greatness, goodness and absolute power of our God, trusting Him, and preparing with a joyful heart for the return of Jesus Christ?” he asked.

God’s covenant people need not be paralyzed by fear because they do not walk the path of discipleship alone, President Uchtdorf taught.

“Can we exercise the faith to believe and to act accordingly? Can we live up to our commitments and sacred covenants? Can we keep the commandments of God even in challenging circumstances? Of course we can!” he affirmed.

“Because God has promised, ‘all things shall work together for your good, if you walk uprightly’ (Doctrine and Covenants 90:24). Therefore, let us set aside our fears and live instead with joy, humility, hope, and a bold confidence that the Lord is with us.”

To those living with anxiety or fear, President Uchtdorf said, “I pray with all the strength of my soul, that we may become liberated from this fear by the divinely appointed antidote to fear: The pure love of Christ, for ‘perfect love casteth out fear’ (1 John 4:18).”

The perfect love of Christ “overcomes temptations to harm, coerce, bully, or oppress,” President Uchtdorf said. “Christ’s perfect love allows us to walk with humility, dignity and a bold confidence as followers of our beloved Savior. Christ’s perfect love gives us the confidence to press through our fears and place our complete trust in the power and goodness of our Heavenly Father, and of His Son Jesus Christ.”

President Uchtdorf encouraged individuals to replace fear with Christ’s perfect love in homes, at work, in Church callings and in hearts.

“His love will enable us to recognize, trust and have faith in our Heavenly Father’s goodness, His divine plan, His gospel and His commandments. Loving God and our fellowmen will turn our obedience to God’s commandments into a blessing rather than a burden. Christ’s love will help us become a little kinder, more forgiving, more caring and more dedicated to His work,” President Uchtdorf promised.

“As we fill our hearts with the love of Christ, we will awaken with a renewed spiritual freshness and we will walk joyfully, confidently, awake and alive in the light and glory of our beloved Savior, Jesus Christ.”

President Uchtdorf testified with the Apostle John, “There is no fear in [Christ’s] love” (1 John 4:16).

“Brothers and sisters, dear friends, God knows you perfectly. He loves you perfectly. He knows what your future holds. He wants you to ‘be not afraid, only believe’ (Mark 5:36) and ‘abide in His [perfect] love’ (John 15:10).”

rsterzer@deseretnews.com

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