Quotes on Understanding

I remember a meeting where we of the First Presidency and the Twelve were reviewing a youthful mistake made by a missionary.  The tone was serious and rather critical, when Elder LeGrand Richards said, “Now, brethren, if the good Lord wanted to put a forty-year-old head on a nineteen-year-old body, He would have done so.  But He didn’t.  He placed a nineteen-year-old head on a nineteen-year-old body, and we should be a bit more understanding.”  The mood of the group changed, the problem was solved, and we moved on with the meeting. — President Thomas S. Monson, Ensign, November 1991, p. 46

Note that we are not explicitly counseled to apply our minds to understanding. Obviously, we must use our minds and our rational capacity to obtain and evaluate information and to reach appropriate conclusions and judgments. But perhaps the scriptures are suggesting to us that reason and “the arm of the flesh” ( 1:19) are not sufficient to produce true understanding.  Thus, understanding, as the word is used in the scriptures, does not refer solely or even primarily to intellectual or cognitive comprehension. Rather, understanding occurs when what we know in our mind is confirmed as true in our hearts by the witness of the Holy Ghost.  The spiritual gift of revelation most typically operates as thoughts and feelings put into our hearts by the Holy Ghost ( 100:5-8; 8:2).   And as testimony and conviction move from our heads to our hearts, we no longer just have knowledge or information – but we begin to understand and experience the mighty change of heart.  We are arising.  Understanding, then, is a revealed outcome and a spiritual gift.  And, as the Savior taught the Nephites, in the family and in our home we are most receptive to teaching and revelation and witnessing by the Holy Ghost. — Elder David A. Bednar, BYU-I Education Week, June 28, 2003