“Norman Cousins wrote, ‘No man need fear death; he need fear only that he may die without having known his greatest power—the power of his free will to give of his life to others. If something comes to life in others because of you, then you have made an approach to immortality.’” Thomas S. Monson, Ensign,Oct 1993, 2
“Dwelling in the world is part of our mortal test. The challenge is to live in the world yet not partake of the world’s temptations which will lead us away from our spiritual goals. When one of us gives up and succumbs to the wiles of the adversary, we may lose more than our own soul. Our surrender could cause the loss of souls who respect us in this generation. Our capitulation to temptation could affect children and families for generations to come.” Robert D. Hales, Ensign, May 1998, 75
“God’s eternal purpose is for you to be successful in this mortal life. No matter how wicked the world becomes, you can earn that blessing. Seek and be attentive to the personal guidance given to you through the Holy Spirit. Continue to be worthy to receive it. Reach out to others who stumble and are perplexed, not certain of what path to follow. Your security is in God your Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.” Richard G. Scott, Liahona, May 2004, 100–102
"This world is in serious trouble. The fundamental values of our society are being undermined. There is a continual crumbling of principle, virtue, integrity, and religious values—the foundation stones of civilization and definitive ingredients of peace and happiness. I will share with you as simply and as clearly as I am able a pattern for success and happiness in life despite these conditions. "God has given you the capacity to exercise faith so that you may find peace, joy, and purpose in life. However, to employ its power, faith must be rooted in something secure. There is no more solid foundation than faith in the love Heavenly Father has for you, faith in His plan of happiness, and faith in the willingness and power of Jesus Christ to fulfill all of His promises." Richard G. Scott, "Living Right," Ensign, Jan. 2007, 10
If we try to define honesty, we can likely agree upon a definition rather quickly. Same with faith, or with knowledge. But what if we try to define virtue? Virtue seems to be a bit more intangible, a tad ambiguous.
Webster’s defines virtue as a conformity to a standard of right; a particular moral excellence; an order of angels; a beneficial quality or power of a thing; manly strength or courage; a commendable quality or trait; a capacity to act, or chastity.
Not crystal clear, is it? The Bible Dictionary offers less direction; virtue isn’t even an entry! The Topical Guide offers the following synonyms or suggested study topics: chastity, cleanliness, goodness, holiness modesty, purity, and sacred.
Aristotle weighed in on virtue, explaining, ”Virtue, then, is a state of character concerned with choice, lying in a mean, i.e. the mean relative to us, this being determined by a rational principle, and by that principle by which the man of practical wisdom would determine it. Now it is a mean between two vices, that which depends on excess and that which depends on defect; and again it is a mean because the vices respectively fall short of or exceed what is right in both passions and actions, while virtue both finds and chooses that which is intermediate."
It’s not getting any easier!
President Faust explained that part of the reason that virtue is so difficult to grasp is that it has several definitions. He said, “Virtue has many definitions, such as moral excellence, right action and thinking, goodness of character, or chastity in women.”
Thankfully, Preach My Gospel gives us one concise definition that encompasses virtue. It ties it all together rather well, I think. Under the heading of virtue, it reads, “Virtue originates in your innermost thoughts and desires. It is a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards.” We’ll use that as our guide for discussing virtue today.
Recently, the Young Women added a value: virtue! As women (albeit, young only in heart, perhaps), we, too must “come to accept and act upon” the value of virtue. In October 2008 General Conference, Sister Elaine Dalton, General Young Women President, called for a return to virtue. But before we can return, we must know what it is!
The value of virtue did not originate with Sister Dalton or even with Young Women. It was around long before then. Proverbs 31 gives a description. It appears a virtuous woman is nigh unto perfection. Proverbs lists the following traits of a virtuous woman: Dependable (verse 11) Abounds in good works (verse 12) Industrious (verse 13) Resourceful (verse 14) Wise (verse 16) Physically strong (verse 17) Charitable (verse 20)Kind (verse 26) Exercise faith in God (verse 30) From the sounds of it, virtue looks like something rather desirable. So why aren’t we hearing about it everywhere? Why isn’t everyone talking about it?
President Hinckley discussed, “Can there be any doubt that a great sickness has invaded our land, and that healing is desperately needed in our hearts and in our homes? Our value system is deteriorating and crumbling before our eyes. Secular self-sufficiency has replaced worship in the lives of many. That is the bad news. As we enumerate all our ills, the situation may appear hopeless. But there is great reason to have hope, for there is a remedy. Our sickness is not difficult to diagnose, nor is the remedy complicated to prescribe. Healing in our hearts and in our homes, and subsequently throughout society, will begin to occur when we individually and collectively return to the code of ethics and the cannons of divine truth that our honored forefathers lived by.”
As President Hinckley suggests, many claim virtue is old fashioned and not relevant for today. We’ve slowly moved away from the ideal of virtue. How did we get there? In her talk “A Return to Virtue”, Sister Dalton suggests it has been a gradual process. She sites an example in The Book of Mormon to show how little by little, just a gradual shift can lead towards destruction.
In Alma 47, we read about Amalickiah, who wanted the Lamanites to join his army. He knew that to accomplish his goal, he would have to remove an obstacle: the leader of the Lamanite army: Lehonti. Lehonti was gathered with his men on top of a hill. Amalickiah began laying in wait. When Lehonti did not come down from the hill, Amalickiah sent a messenger up the hill to beg Lehonti come down. Three times, Amalickiah sent the messenger, and each time Lehonti refused. Finally, Amalickiah went part way up the hill, close to the Lamanite camp. Again he sent the messenger, this time with the message that he was already part way up the hill – and that Lehonti was welcome to bring his guards. Lehonti only had to come a little way down. Lehonti consented. He met Amalickiah, just a little way down the hill. It appeared they had a friendly chat. It appeared that all was well. But all was not well. As the “friendship” continued, Amalickiah continued forward with his plan. In verse 18 we read, “And it came to pass that Amalickiah caused that one of his servants should administer poison by degrees to Lehonti, that he died”.
Every compromise Lehonti made to Amalickiah was part of the “degrees” by which he died. Where do we see this in our own lives/in our own society? How are we entrapped? Certainly there are many areas where our virtue is attacked, including messages about the role of women, the changing of family dynamics, an increased emphasis on our own lives, or on our image, and a stress on self-sufficiency, rather than leaning on God.
How can we escape these snares and follow the imperative to return to virtue?
President Monson counseled, “you be the one to make a stand for right, even if you stand alone. Have the moral courage to be a light for others to follow. There is no friendship more valuable than your own clear conscience, your own moral cleanliness—and what a glorious feeling it is to know that you stand in your appointed place clean and with the confidence that you are worthy to do so.”
So how do we make our light of moral courage shines bright? We must stand for virtue. Sister Dalton offered the following suggestions for us to focus on: Have pure thoughts. D&C 121:45: “Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong.” Keep your covenants. D&C 25:13: “Wherefore, lift up thy heart and rejoice, and cleave unto the covenants which thou hast made.” Stand in holy places. D&C 45:32: “My disciples shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved.” Repent. Mosiah 4:10: “Believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you.” Keep the commandments. D&C 20:77: “Keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them.” Seek good. Article of Faith 13: “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”
Let’s return now to Proverbs 31. It suggests that our worth is great if we live virtuously. Verse 10 states that a virtuous woman’s “price is far above rubies.” Why rubies? Most scholars agree that the original intent of the word, before translation was jewels. However, when the Bible was translated by King James’ scribes, the ruby was the most valuable of all jewels. Many qualities were ascribed to the ruby, and it was exceedingly rare. The scribes, who we believe were inspired, wanted to connote the great worth of the value of virtue. Interesting.
As sisters in the gospel, when we live virtuous lives, our worth – individually, and collectively – is great, even more than that of rubies.
Once, during Christ’s ministry, we find it recorded in the scriptures that he was touched by the multitude. We read in Luke 6:19: “The whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.” We can substitute the definition of “strength, from moral excellence” here. Christ’s, and our, strength, is found in the moral excellence of virtue.
Virtue is our strength in an amoral world. It is what sets us apart. While it may be difficult to define – the word itself proves to challenge us, the concept of virtue is tangible. While virtue cannot be seen, it can be felt.
As Christ felt his virtue – or his inner strength – go out of him, we too can use our virtue to strengthen and bless others, to raise their sights on the meaning of life. It is through virtue, that we raise ourselves, and change the world.
 Aristotle. "Nicomachean Ethics.” [Online] 24 February 2009. <>.  James E. Faust, “How Near to the Angels,” Ensign, May 1998, 95.  Preach My Gospel, 2004, 118.  Gordon B. Hinckley, “Standing For Something: 10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes” (Random House, Inc.: New York: 2000) xxi.  Elaine S. Dalton, “A Return to Virtue, “Ensign, November 2008, 78-80.  Thomas S. Monson, “Examples of Righteousness,” Ensign, May 2008, 65–68.
"For verily I say unto you, blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven. Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation." Doctrine and Covenants 58:2-3
"There are those who have met disaster, which almost seems defeat, who have become somewhat soured in their natures, but if they stop to think, even the adversity which has come to them may prove a means of spiritual uplift. Adversity itself may lead toward and not away from God and spiritual enlightenment; and privation may prove a source of strength if we can but keep a sweetness of mind and spirit" (David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, p. 390).
"Hope is not knowledge, but rather the abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill His promise to us. It is confidence that if we live according to God's laws and the words of His prophets now, we will receive desired blessings in the future. It is believing and expecting that our prayers will be answered. It is manifest in confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance."In the language of the gospel, this hope is sure, unwavering, and active. The prophets of old speak of a 'firm hope' (Alma 34:41) and a 'lively hope' (1 Peter 1:3). It is a hope glorifying God through good works. With hope comes joy and happiness. With hope, we can 'have patience, and bear . . . [our] afflictions' (Alma 34:41)." Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "The Infinite Power of Hope," Ensign, Nov. 2008, 22
“Some may say if we have enough faith, we can sometimes change the circumstances that are causing our trials and tribulations. Is our faith to change circumstances, or is it to endure them? Faithful prayers may be offered to change or moderate events in our life, but we must always remember that when concluding each prayer, there is an understanding: ‘Thy will be done’ (Matt.26:42). Faith in the Lord includes trust in the Lord. The faith to endure well is faith based upon accepting the Lord’s will and the lessons learned in the events that transpire.” Robert D. Hales, Ensign, May 1998, 75
Book Club will be meeting Thursday, March 26th from 7:00-9:30 at Dianna C.'s house. We will be discussing the book "Enchanted Inc." by Shanna Swendson, as well as many other topics of conversation! Even if you don't have a chance to read the book we welcome you to come join the fun and enjoy some time with other sisters.
“You don’t know how many people are looking at you and copying you. It is necessary for each of us to be honest in our personal lives so others can follow someone who is sincere, who teaches well through his actions. Others are counting on you to have personal pride, patience, and performance.” Marvin J. Ashton, Tambuli, Mar 1984, 23
"(Christ) is saying to us, “Trust me, learn of me, do what I do. Then, when you walk where I am going,” He says, “we can talk about where you are going, and the problems you face and the troubles you have. If you will follow me, I will lead you out of darkness,” He promises. “I will give you answers to your prayers. I will give you rest to your souls.” "When He says to the poor in spirit, “Come unto me,” He means He knows the way out and He knows the way up. He knows it because He has walked it. He knows the way because He is the way." -Jeffrey R. Holland, “Broken Things to Mend,” Ensign, May 2006, 69–71
Hope Overcomes Despair "The scriptures say that there must be 'an opposition in all things' (2 Nephi 2:11). So it is with faith, hope, and charity. Doubt, despair, and failure to care for our fellowmen lead us into temptation, which can cause us to forfeit choice and precious blessings."The adversary uses despair to bind hearts and minds in suffocating darkness. Despair drains from us all that is vibrant and joyful and leaves behind the empty remnants of what life was meant to be. Despair kills ambition, advances sickness, pollutes the soul, and deadens the heart. Despair can seem like a staircase that leads only and forever downward."Hope, on the other hand, is like the beam of sunlight rising up and above the horizon of our present circumstances. It pierces the darkness with a brilliant dawn. It encourages and inspires us to place our trust in the loving care of an eternal Heavenly Father, who has prepared a way for those who seek for eternal truth in a world of relativism, confusion, and of fear." Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "The Infinite Power of Hope," Ensign, Nov. 2008, 22
Galatians 6:9-10 "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.."
"Often small acts of service are all that is required to lift and bless another: a question concerning a person's family, quick words of encouragement, a sincere compliment, a small note of thanks, a brief telephone call. If we are observant and aware, and if we act on the promptings which come to us, we can accomplish much good. Sometimes, of course, more is needed. . . . I extol you who, with loving care and compassionate concern, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and house the homeless. He who notes the sparrow's fall will not be unmindful of such service. The desire to lift, the willingness to help, and the graciousness to give come from a heart filled with love. Serve willingly" (Thomas S. Monson, Ensign, November 2007, p. 120-121).
"And if there are any among you who aspire after their own aggrandizement, and seek their own opulence, while their brethren are groaning in poverty, and are under sore trials and temptations, they cannot be benefited by the intercession of the Holy Spirit, which maketh intercession for us day and night with groanings that cannot be uttered. "We ought at all times to be very careful that such high-mindedness shall never have place in our hearts; but condescend to men of low estate, and with all long-suffering bear the infirmities of the weak" (Letter from Liberty Jail, History of the Church, 3:299).
“You have a choice. You can wring your hands and be consumed with concern for the future or choose to use the counsel the Lord has given to live with peace and happiness in a world awash with evil.” Richard G. Scott, Liahona, May 2004, 100–102
“When you find yourselves a little gloomy, look around you and find somebody that is in a worse plight than yourself; go to him and find out what the trouble is, then try to remove it with the wisdom which the Lord bestows upon you; and the first thing you know, your gloom is gone, you feel light, the Spirit of the Lord is upon you, and everything seems illuminated.” Lorenzo Snow, General Conference, 6 April 1899
God Is at the Helm "The world can at times be a frightening place in which to live. The moral fabric of society seems to be unraveling at an alarming speed. None—whether young or old or in-between—is exempt from exposure to those things which have the potential to drag us down and destroy us. Our youth, our precious youth, in particular, face temptations we can scarcely comprehend. The adversary and his hosts seem to be working nonstop to cause our downfall. "We are waging a war with sin, my brothers and sisters, but we need not despair. It is a war we can and will win. Our Father in Heaven has given us the tools we need in order to do so. He is at the helm. We have nothing to fear. He is the God of light. He is the God of hope. I testify that He loves us—each one." Thomas S. Monson, "Looking Back and Moving Forward," Ensign, May 2008, 90
"Don't be afraid of the testing and trials of life. Sometimes when you are going through the most severe tests, you will be nearer to God than you have any idea, for like the experience of the Master Himself in the temptation on the mount, in the Garden of Gethsemane, and on the cross at Calvary, the scriptures record, 'And, behold, angels came and ministered unto him' (Matthew 4:11). Sometimes that may happen to you in the midst of your trials" (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, p. 192).
No One Wants Adversity "It is so hard when sincere prayer about something we desire very much is not answered the way we want. It is especially difficult when the Lord answers no to that which is worthy and would give us great joy and happiness. Whether it be overcoming illness or loneliness, recovery of a wayward child, coping with a handicap, or seeking continuing life for a dear one who is slipping away, it seems so reasonable and so consistent with our happiness to have a favorable answer. It is hard to understand why our exercise of deep and sincere faith from an obedient life does not bring the desired result."No one wants adversity. Trials, disappointments, sadness, and heartache come to us from two basically different sources. Those who transgress the laws of God will always have those challenges. The other reason for adversity is to accomplish the Lord's own purposes in our life that we may receive the refinement that comes from testing. It is vitally important for each of us to identify from which of these two sources come our trials and challenges, for the corrective action is very different." Richard G. Scott, "Trust in the Lord," Ensign, Nov. 1995, 16
~ This Thursday, March 5th is the first preview night for Financial Peace University. It will be held at the Fairfield Building at 7:00 pm. Childcare is provided for the preview. Come and find out what the class is about, register, and purchase the materials for the class. The class starts on Thursday, March 19th at 7:00 pm and will run for 13 weeks. See www.daveramsey.com for more details.
~ This Saturday, March 7th is the Stake Relief Society Enrichment Meeting. It will be from 9 am to 1 pm at the Liberty Building. There will be a number of different service projects to work on. Lunch is provided. We hope to see you there!
“When George A. Smith was very ill, he was visited by his cousin, the Prophet Joseph Smith. The afflicted man reported: ‘He [the Prophet] told me I should never get discouraged, whatever difficulties might surround me. If I were sunk into the lowest pit of Nova Scotia and all the Rocky Mountains piled on top of me, I ought not to be discouraged, but hang on, exercise faith, and keep up good courage, and I should come out on the top of the heap.’ (George A. Smith Family, comp. Zora Smith Jarvis, Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press,1962, p. 54) There are times when you simply have to righteously hang on and outlast the devil until his depressive spirit leaves you. As the Lord told theProphet Joseph Smith: ‘Thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high.’ (D&C 121:7–8.)”Ezra Taft Benson, Tambuli, Mar 1987, 2
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