Quotes on Choices

Brigham Young, in periods when pressures could have filled him with Martha-like anxiety, instead made Mary-like choices:

“In my experience I never did let an opportunity pass of getting with the Prophet Joseph and of hearing him speak in public or in private, so that I might draw understanding from the fountain from which he spoke, that I might have it and bring it forth when it was needed. . . . In the days of the Prophet Joseph, such moments were more precious to me than all the wealth of the world.  No  matter how great my poverty – if I had to borrow meal to feed my wife and children, I never let an opportunity pass of learning what the Prophet had to impart.”  (Journal of Discourses, 12:269-70) — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “Wisdom and Order,” Ensign, June 1994, p. 42

The choices you make today will directly influence the number and kinds of opportunities you will have in the future.  Each daily decision will either limit or broaden your opportunities.  As you make righteous decisions during this preparatory period, you will be ready to make righteous decisions in the future. — Elder Robert D. Hales, “Fulfilling Our Duty to God,” Ensign, November 2001, p. 40

Each day we decide what we will do and what we will not do, among myriad alternatives.  When we choose to obey the commandments cheerfully as our first priority, neither murmuring about nor measuring the things He commands, we become the handmaids of the Lord and fishers of men and cast our nets on the right side of our own ships.  We simply go and do the things the Lord has commanded, even when we are weary, trusting that He will help us to do exactly as He asks.  As we do so, the Lord helps our unbelief, and our faith becomes powerful, vibrant, and unshakable. . . . (See 1 Ne. 3:7; D&C 123:17.)

No matter who we are or where we live, there is much about our daily lives that is routine and repetitive.  As we go about this dailiness, we must be deliberate about doing the things that matter most.  These must-do things include making room first for the minimum daily requirements of faithful behavior: true obedience, humble prayer, serious scripture study, and selfless service to others.  No other daily vitamins strengthen the muscles of our faith as fast as these actions. — Elder L. Whitney Clayton, “Help Thou Mine Unbelief,” Ensign, November 2001, p. 29

We become the product of the myriad of choices we are constantly making; choices that may seem quite inconsequential today may have an enormous impact on what measure of being we become. — Bishop Richard C. Edgley, CES Fireside, November 3, 2002

Many of you . . . will be, at some time or another, approached by one or more of your “friends” who will entice you to do something you know you should not do. . . . 

“No one will ever know,” the so-called friends will tell you.  “Besides, what difference will it make?”

. . . You don’t have to reject your friends who are on the wrong path; you don’t even have to give them up necessarily.  You can be their caring friend, ready to help them when they are ready to be helped.  You can talk to them and lift them and bear your testimony to them.  Lead them by example.

But don’t ever be led into displeasing your Father in Heaven by your friends who might ask that as a condition of being your friend, you must choose between their way and the Lord’s way.

If that happens, choose the Lord’s way and look for new friends. — Elder Malcolm S. Jeppsen, Ensign, May 1990, p. 45

Adults need to understand, and our children should be taught, that private choices are not private; they all have public consequences.

There is a popular notion that doing our own thing or doing what feels good is our own business and affects no one but us.  The deadly scourges that are epidemic all over the world have flourished in the context of this popular notion.  But this is simply not true.

All immoral behavior directly impacts society.  Even innocent people are affected.   Drug and alcohol abuse have public consequences, as do illegitimacy, pornography, and obscenity.  The public cost in human life and tax dollars for these so-called private choices is enormous: poverty, crime, a less-educated work force, and mounting demands for government spending to fix problems that cannot be fixed by money.  It simply is not true that our private conduct is our own business.  Our society is the sum total of what millions of individuals do in their private lives.  That sum total of private behavior has worldwide public consequences of enormous magnitude.  There are no completely private choices. — Elder James E. Faust, “Will I Be Happy?” Ensign, May 1987, p. 80

Benjamin Franklin had this to say about choice:  “We stand at the crossroads, each minute, each hour, each day, making choices. We choose the thoughts we allow ourselves to think, the passions we allow ourselves to feel, and the actions we allow ourselves to perform. Each choice is made in the context of whatever value system we’ve selected to govern our lives. In selecting that value system, we are, in a very real way, making the most important choice we will ever make.

Those who believe there is one God who made all things and who governs the world by his Providence will make many choices different from those who do not. Those who hold in reverence that being who gave them life and worship Him through adoration, prayer, and thanksgiving will make many choices different from those who do not. Those who believe that mankind are all of a family and that the most acceptable service of God is doing good to man will make many choices different from those who do not. Those who believe in a future state in which all that is wrong here will be made right will make many choices different from those who do not. Those who subscribe to the morals of Jesus will make many choices different from those who do not.”

Franklin concludes:

“Since the foundation of all happiness is thinking rightly, and since correct action is dependent on correct opinion, we cannot be too careful in choosing the value system we allow to govern our thoughts and actions.

“And to know that God governs in the affairs of men, that he hears and answers prayers, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him, is indeed, a powerful regulator of human conduct.”. . .

Master the ability to think straight.  As Franklin said, “The foundation of all happiness is thinking rightly.”  This may be more important in the future as the world continues to spiral downward and crumble into moral decay. — Elder M. Russell Ballard, “Becoming Self-Reliant,” Ensign, March 2009, p. 54

You are responsible for the choices you make.  You should not blame your circumstances, your family, or your friends if you choose to disobey God’s commandments.  You are a child of God with great strength.  You have the ability to choose righteousness and happiness, no matter what your circumstances.  You are also responsible for developing the abilities and talents Heavenly Father has given you.  You are accountable to Him for what you do with your abilities and how you spend your time.  Do not idle away your time.  Be willing to work hard.  Choose to do many good things of your own free will. — “For the Strength of Youth,” Agency and Accountability, p. 4

To be or to become chosen is not an exclusive status conferred upon us.  Rather, you and I ultimately determine if we are chosen.  Please now note the use of the word chosen in the following verses from the Doctrine and Covenants: “Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen.  And why are they not chosen?  Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men” (D&C 121:34–35).

I believe the implication of these verses is quite straightforward.  God does not have a list of favorites to which we must hope our names will someday be added.  He does not limit “the chosen” to a restricted few.  Rather, it is our hearts and our aspirations and our obedience which definitively determine whether we are counted as one of God’s chosen.

Enoch was instructed by the Lord on this very point of doctrine.  Please note the use of the word choose in these verses:  “Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency; And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father” (Moses 7:32–33).  As we learn in these scriptures, the fundamental purposes for the gift of agency were to love one another and to choose God.  Thus we become God’s chosen and invite His tender mercies as we use our agency to choose God. One of the most well-known and frequently cited passages of scripture is found in Moses 1:39.  This verse clearly and concisely describes the work of the Eternal Father:  “For behold, this is my work and my glory – to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” 

A companion scripture found in the Doctrine and Covenants describes with equal clarity and conciseness our primary work as the sons and daughters of the Eternal Father.  Interestingly, this verse does not seem to be as well known and is not quoted with great frequency.  “Behold, this is your work, to keep my commandments, yea, with all your might, mind and strength” (D&C 11:20).  Thus, the Father’s work is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of His children.  Our work is to keep His commandments with all of our might, mind, and strength – and we thereby become chosen and, through the Holy Ghost, receive and recognize the tender mercies of the Lord in our daily lives. — Elder David A. Bednar, “The Tender Mercies of the Lord,” Ensign, May 2005

I know that God loves us.  He allows us to exercise our moral agency even when we misuse it.  He permits us to make our own decisions.  Christ cannot help us if we do not trust Him; He cannot teach us if we do not serve Him.  He will not force us to do what’s right, but He will show us the way only when we decide to serve Him.  Certainly, for us to serve in His kingdom, Christ requires that we experience a change of thought and attitude. — President Thomas S. Monson, “Looking Back and Moving Forward,” Ensign, May 2008, pp. 87-90

Some seek to brush aside conscience, refusing to hear its voice.  But that deflection is, in itself, an act of choice, because we so desired.  Even when the light of Christ flickers only faintly in the darkness, it flickers nevertheless.  If one averts his gaze therefrom, it is because he so desires.

Like it or not, therefore, reality requires that we acknowledge our responsibility for our desires.  Brothers and sisters, which do we really desire, God’s plans for us or Satan’s? . . .

No wonder desires also determine the gradations in outcomes, including why “many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14; see D&C 95:5).

It is up to us.  God will facilitate, but He will not force. — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “According to the Desire of [Our] Hearts,” Ensign, November 1996

Righteous desires need to be relentless, therefore, because, said President Brigham Young, “the men and women, who desire to obtain seats in the celestial kingdom, will find that they must battle every day” (in Journal of Discourses, 11:14).  Therefore, true Christian soldiers are more than weekend warriors. — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “According to the Desire of [Our] Hearts,” Ensign, November 1996

You can be smart and happy or stupid and miserable – it’s your choice. — President Gordon B. Hinckley

All these rewards were seemingly promised, or foreordained, before the world was. Surely these matters must have been determined by the kind of lives we had lived in that premortal spirit world.  Some may question these assumptions, but at the same time they will accept without any question the belief that each one of us will be judged when we leave this earth according to his or her deeds during our lives here in mortality.  Isn’t it just as reasonable to believe that what we have received here in this earth [life] was given to each of us according to the merits of our conduct before we came here?” — President Harold B. Lee, Conference Report, October 1973, pp. 7-8

We have been placed upon this earth because of our faithfulness in having kept our first estate.  The labors that we performed in the sphere that we left before we came here have had a certain effect upon our lives here, and to a certain extent they govern and control the lives that we lead here, just the same as the labors that we do here will control and govern our lives when we pass from this stage of existence. — President Heber J. Grant, “Reward of Conscience,” Improvement Era, February 1943, p. 75

Joseph Smith taught that “All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not.  The devil has no power over us only as we permit him.” Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 181

But how do we even begin to master ourselves and overcome Satan, sin and temptation?  President Benson suggests the practical process of goal-setting.  He suggests that we conquer these things one at a time.  He said: “Every accountable child of God needs to set goals, short – and long-range goals.  A man who is pressing forward to accomplish worthy goals can soon put despondency under his feet, and once a goal is accomplished, others can be set up.  Some will be continuing goals.  Each week when we partake of the sacrament we commit ourselves to the goals of taking upon ourselves the name of Christ, of always remembering Him and keeping His commandments (see Moroni 4:3; D&C 20:27). — President Ezra Taft Benson,  “Do Not Despair,” Ensign, October 1986

Many who are in a spiritual drought and lack commitment have not necessarily been involved in major sins or transgressions, but they have made unwise choices.  Some are casual in their observance of sacred covenants.  Others spend most of their time giving first-class devotion to lesser causes.  Some allow intense cultural or political views to weaken their allegiance to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Some have immersed themselves in Internet materials that magnify, exaggerate, and, in some cases, invent shortcomings of early Church leaders.  Then they draw incorrect conclusions that can affect testimony. Any who have made these choices can repent and be spiritually renewed.  — Elder Quentin L. Cook, “Can Ye Feel So Now?” Ensign, November 2012

I take it he [Jesus, referring to Matt. 6:24] understood that in the lives of most men the time would come when they might have to make a choice as to whether or not they should choose God or mammon, and it is my conviction and my testimony that when we make the choice, if we choose to serve the Lord, it is just like forming a partnership with him.  He will be on our side, he will see us through; and I wonder sometimes if we really sacrifice when we choose to serve the Lord, rather than to serve mammon, and make the necessary effort and contributions required to show our faith in him. — Elder LeGrand Richards, Conference Report, October 1948, p. 41

Desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions.  The desires we act on determine our changing, our achieving, and our becoming. — Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “Protect the Children,” Ensign, November 2012

When I have been tempted sometimes to do a certain thing, I have asked myself, “Which side of the line am I on?”  If I determined to be on the safe side, the Lord’s side, I would do the right thing every time.  So when temptation comes think prayerfully about your problem and the influence of the Lord will aid you to decide wisely.  There is safety for us only on the Lord’s side of the line. Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, p. 191