Quotes on Virtue

Loving means to love that which is unlovable, or it is no virtue at all.  Forgiving means to pardon the unpardonable, or it is no virtue at all.  Faith means believing the unbelievable, or it is no virtue at all.  And to hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all. — Anonymous

No radiant pearl which crested fortune wears; no gem that twinkling hangs from beauty’s ears; not the bright stars which night’s blue arch adorn; nor rising sun that gilds the vernal morn; shine with such luster as the tear that flows down virtue’s manly cheek for others’ woes. — Darwin

These attributes [submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon you] are eternal and portable!  Being portable, to the degree developed, they will go with us through the veil of death, and still later they will rise with us in the Resurrection when all else stays behind.  Meanwhile, so much of our time is ironically devoted to learning and marketing perishable skills that will soon become obsolete.  It isn’t just the morticians who will have a vocational crisis in the next world, brothers and sister. — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “In Him All Things Hold Together,” BYU Speeches, March 31, 1991, p. 103

Spiritual submissiveness . . . sometimes helping us to “let go” of things, even mortal life, other times to “hold fast,” and still other times to use the next stepping-stone (see 1 Ne. 8:30) — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “Consecrate Thy Performance,” Ensign, May 2002, p. 37

Christlike attributes (eternal virtues):

1. Meek and humble — not self-concerned, dismissive, proud, seeking ascendancy.  Blessed are the meek because they are not easily offended.  Besides, those who “shine as lights in the world” have no need to seek the spotlight!  The world’s spotlights are not only fleeting, but they employ inferior light!

2. Patient — not hectic, hurried, pushy.

3. Full of love — not demanding, dominating, manipulative, condescending, or harsh.

4. Gentle — not coarse, brusque, and vindictive.

5. Easily entreated — not unapproachable, inaccessible, and nonlistening.

6. Long-suffering — not impatient, disinterested, curt, easily offended.  There are so many people in the Church, brothers and sisters, waiting to be offended.  And it doesn’t take long.  If one has a chip on his or her shoulder, you can’t make it through the foyer, so to speak, without getting it knocked off.

7. Submissive to God — not resistant to the Spirit, counsel, and life’s lessons.

8. Temperate (self-restrained) — not egoistic, eager for attention and recognition, or too talkative.  In your life and mine, the great moments of commendation and correction have come usually in one-liners.

9. Merciful — not judgmental and unforgiving.  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall know the caress of causality as their forgiving mercy restores others to wholeness!  Though God is perfected in the attributes of justice and mercy, we read that, finally, “Mercy overpowereth justice” (Alma 34:15).

10. Gracious — not tactless, easily irritated, ungenerous.

11. Holy — not worldly.

— Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “In Him All Things Hold Together,” BYU Speeches, March 31, 1991, p. 105-06

James E. Tidwell II, director of finance for the Church Educational System, named three virtues to help shoulder life’s challenges with grace and peace in a recent BYU – Idaho devotional:  (1) Pray and then act.  (2) Work every day at being morally clean.  (3) Live within your means.  Brother Tidwell encouraged the students by saying, “Developing these three habits now and maintaining them throughout your lives will increase . . . joy and help you shoulder the challenges and opportunities to come.” — James E. Tidwell II, LDS Daily News, June 10, 2002

Many years ago now, long before I was called as a General Authority, I participated as a speaker in a young adult conference.  The conference concluded with a testimony meeting in which a handsome, young returned missionary stood up to bear his testimony. He looked good, clean, and confident – just like a returned missionary should look.

As he began to speak, tears came to his eyes.  He said he was grateful to stand in the midst of such a terrific group of young Latter-day Saints and to feel good about the life he was trying to lead.  But that feeling had only been possible, he said, because of an experience he had had a few years earlier, an experience that had shaped his life forever.

He then told of coming home from a date shortly after he had been ordained an elder at age 18.  Something had happened on this date of which he was not proud.  He did not go into any details, nor should he have done so in a public setting.  To this day I do not know the nature of the incident, but it was significant enough to him to have affected his spirit and his self-esteem.

As he sat in his car for a while in the driveway of his own home, thinking things through and feeling genuine sorrow for whatever had happened, his nonmember mother came running frantically from the house straight to his car.  In an instant she conveyed that this boy’s younger brother – I do not know what the age of the younger boy was – had just fallen in the home, had hit his head sharply and was having some kind of seizure or convulsion.  The nonmember father had immediately called 911, but it would take some time at best for help to come.

“Come and do something,” she cried.  “Isn’t there something you do in your Church at times like this?  You have their priesthood.  Come and do something.”

His mother didn’t know a lot about the Church at that point, but she knew something of priesthood blessings.  Nevertheless, on this night when someone he loved dearly needed his faith and his strength, this young man could not respond.  Given the feelings he had just been wrestling with, and the compromise he felt he had just made – whatever that was – he could not bring himself to go before the Lord and ask for the blessing that was needed.

He bolted from the car and ran down the street several hundred yards to the home of a worthy older man who had befriended him in the ward ever since the boy’s conversion two or three years earlier.  An explanation was given, the older brother responded, and the two were back at the house still well before the paramedics arrived.  The happy ending of this story as told in that testimony meeting was that this older man instantly gave a sweet, powerful priesthood blessing, leaving the injured child stable and resting by the time medical help arrived.  A quick trip to the hospital and a thorough exam there revealed no permanent damage had been done.  A very fearful moment for this family had passed.

Then the returned missionary of whom I speak said this:  “No one who has not faced what I faced that night will ever know the shame I felt and the sorrow I bore for not feeling worthy to use my priesthood.  It is an even more painful memory for me because it was my own little brother who needed me, and my beloved nonmember parents who were so fearful and who had a right to expect more of me.  But as I stand before you today I can promise you this,” he said.  “I am not perfect, but from that night onward I have never done anything that would keep me from going before the Lord with confidence and asking for His help when it is needed.  Personal worthiness is a battle in this world in which we live,” he acknowledged, “but it is a battle I am winning.  I have felt the finger of condemnation pointing at me once in my life, and I don’t intend to feel it ever again if I can do anything about it.  And, of course,” he concluded, “I can do everything about it.”

He finished his testimony and sat down.  I can still picture him.  I can still see the setting we were in.  And I can still remember the stark, moving silence that followed his remarks as everyone in the room had occasion to search his or her soul a little deeper, vowing a little stronger to live by these powerful words given by the Lord:  “Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distill upon thy soul as the dews from heaven. The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth” (D&C 121:45–46; emphasis added). — Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Let Virtue Garnish Thy Thoughts Unceasingly,” Youth Fireside given December 31, 2006