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Teachings of Joseph Fielding Smith Chapter 23: Individual Responsibility

Learning to Become Who the Lord Wants Us to Be

Get the full lesson, "Individual Responsibility," from The Teachings of Joseph Fielding Smith at LDS.org.

Note: As the Church has said, the manual has been prepared as the primary source of lesson material. These supplements, from general conference addresses, are meant only as a complement to your study on this lesson's topic.

Supplement is from "What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be" by Elder Lynn G. Robbins from the April 2011 General Conference. 

“To be, or not to be” is actually a very good question. The Savior posed the question in a far more profound way, making it a vital doctrinal question for each of us: “What manner of men [and women] ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am” (3 Nephi 27:27; emphasis added). The first-person present tense of the verb be is I Am. He invites us to take upon us His name and His nature.

To become as He is, we must also do the things He did: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do” (3 Nephi 27:21; emphasis added).

To be and to do are inseparable. As interdependent doctrines they reinforce and promote each other. Faith inspires one to pray, for example, and prayer in turn strengthens one’s faith.

The Savior often denounced those who did without being—calling them hypocrites: “This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Mark 7:6). To do without to be is hypocrisy, or feigning to be what one is not—a pretender.

Conversely, to be without to do is void, as in “faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (James 2:17; emphasis added). Be without do really isn’t being—it is self-deception, believing oneself to be good merely because one’s intentions are good.

Do without be—hypocrisy—portrays a false image to others, while be without do portrays a false image to oneself . . .

Christlike to be’s cannot be seen, but they are the motivating force behind what we do, which can be seen. When parents help a child learn to walk, for example, we see parents doing things like steadying and praising their child. These do’s reveal the unseen love in their hearts and the unseen faith and hope in their child’s potential. Day after day their efforts continue—evidence of the unseen be’s of patience and diligence.

Because be begets do and is the motive behind do, teaching be will improve behavior more effectively than focusing on do will improve behavior."

Read the whole talk here.

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