F. Remember faith, virtue (4:6): In D&C 121, the Lord says that we should let “virtue garnish [our] thoughts unceasingly.” To have such protective shield around our thoughts in these days will require a great effort, and that protective shield will enable our thoughts to “wax strong in the presence of God” (121:45).
G. Remember . . . knowledge (4:6): We live in an ecclesiastical environment that stresses the qualities of the spirit and heart. But twice in D&C 4, the Lord refers to qualities of the intellect. We are to serve with our minds (4:2) and we are to remember knowledge. We have been commanded to study the scriptures (11:22) and to search them (John 5:29; Alma 33:2, etc.) We have also been commanded to seek learning by study out of the best books (see D&C 88:118)
H. Remember . . . temperance (4:6): Elder Russell M. Nelson spoke of this quality as he reviewed a tour of the Tabernacle Choir. He taught
Temperance suggests sobriety and self restraint in action. It reminds one of covenants made.
Members of the choir were always temperate and well disciplined, not from without but from within. Completely obedient to the Word of Wisdom, they were blessed with health and strength. Keeping a schedule that left little time for leisure, their grueling pace allowed them to perform for audiences that otherwise might have been excluded. (“These ... Were Our Examples”: Elder Russell M. Nelson: C.R., October 1991)
I. Remember . . . patience (4:6): When Moses went up into the mountain of the Lord to get the higher law for his people, he was gone 40 days. But we have seen so many problems, even huge problems, solved in 30 minutes or an hour on television. We are not conditioned to be patient. I know a wonderful woman who was informed that she was not to marry until she found the man chosen for her by the Lord. She trusted patiently in his promises and waited until she was 34 years old. When she found him, she found a true saint, one of the greatest men I have ever known. What if she had not been patient?
J. Remember . . . brotherly kindness (4:6): The scriptures speak of kindness over 100 times. This is one of the simplest of virtues. It is the sort of thing that we can all do if we are willing to remember this injunction when people mistreat us, or when they need our help. The opportunities for brotherly kindness are everywhere, if we will just remember.
K. Remember . . . godliness (4:6): Elder Nelson also spoke of this quality as he reviewed the experience of the Choir:
“The power of godliness is manifest” in the ordinances of the priesthood (D&C 84:20). Godliness is not a product of perfection; it comes of concentration and consecration.
Godliness characterizes each of you who truly loves the Lord. You are constantly mindful of the Savior's atonement and rejoice in His unconditional love. Meanwhile you vanquish personal pride and vain ambition. You consider your accomplishments important only if they help establish His kingdom on earth. (“These ... Were Our Examples”: Elder Russell M. Nelson: C.R., October 1991)
L. Remember . . . humility (4:6): This quality is the one that took the place of sacrificial lambs and bullocks. The Lord commanded that we offer no more burnt offerings, but that we offer the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. That characteristic heart and spirit is certainly related to humility.
So it is that real, personal sacrifice never was placing an animal on the altar. Instead, it is a willingness to put the animal in us upon the altar and letting it be consumed! Such is the “sacrifice unto the Lord . . . of a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (D&C 59:8). (“Deny Yourselves of All Ungodliness”: Elder Neal A. Maxwell: C.R., April 1995)
M. Remember . . . diligence (4:6): The scriptures counsel us to be diligent in all things. Perhaps this quality comes last in this verse because the Lord wants us to be diligent in remembering these qualities of character that he has revealed to those of us who desire to serve him.3. “THE FIELD IS WHITE”
In D&C 4:4, the Lord uses the imagery of the sickle to emphasize the need for harvesters. Eleven times in the D&C, we are counseled to thrust in our sickles with our might. All those who are called to the work must pack a sickle in their bags and use it vigorously in the service of the Lord.
As to the whiteness of the field, our literature is full of stories of spectacular numbers of conversions, but President Gordon B. Hinckley suggested that the whiteness of the field means the harvest can increase.
Last year there were approximately 300,000 convert baptisms throughout the Church. This is tremendously significant. This is the equivalent of 120 new stakes of 2,500 members each. Think of that: 120 new stakes in a single year! It is wonderful. But it is not enough. I am not being unrealistic when I say that with concerted effort, with recognition of the duty which falls upon each of us as members of the Church, and with sincere prayer to the Lord for help, we could double that number. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Find the Lambs, Feed the Sheep,” Ensign, May 1999, 105)4. “OPEN YOUR MOUTHS AND THEY SHALL BE FILLED”
Fear is too much with some of us. We long for the joy of missionary work and the rich rewards with come to us when those we love and serve embrace the truth. But we are often frightened to make the effort. But so often when we ought to speak, we do not.
But with some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man. Wo unto such, for mine anger is kindled against them. (D&C 60:2)The Lord has said that we must open our mouths. In fact, on several occasions he has suggested that if we have prepared, that is all we must do. For example,
Open your mouths and they shall be filled, and you shall become even as Nephi of old, who journeyed from Jerusalem in the wilderness. . . . Yea, open your mouths and they shall be filled, saying: Repent, repent, and prepare ye the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (D&C 33:8-10, emphasis added)
Therefore, verily I say unto you, lift up your voices unto this people; speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and you shall not be confounded before men; For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say. (D&C 100:5-6)We have no need to fear, for we shall not be confounded.
5. THE LORD PROMISES GREAT BLESSINGS TO THOSE WHO LABOR IN HIS SERVICE
The scriptures are filled with promises to missionaries. The most significant to me is the affirmation that if I serve as I have been taught to serve, I will stand blameless before God when I see him on judgement day (see D&C 4:2). Or to but it another way:
And lo, he that trusteth in his sickle with is might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul. (D&C 4:4)
And thus, if ye are faithful ye shall be laden with many sheaves, and crowned with honor, and glory, and immortality, and eternal life. (D&C 75:5)No price is too great to pay. A lifetime of labor will be abundantly rewarded with the joy shared with a single convert (see D&C 18:15).
CONCLUSION: Having served many years in missionary callings, I leave you with my testimony that echoes that of Lehi’s:
Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah. (2 Nephi 2:8)