Talk given October 2018 –
I went to Maryland for five days earlier this month to help coach an event for e-commerce entrepenuers. I rubbed shoulders with multi-millionaires for days, but interestingly, I was never envious or greedy. My mind was not focused on how I could be like them. My mind just kept going back to how much I missed my family.
Then, when I got back in town, my husband and I watched a movie about a young man who grew up very poor, and promised himself and everyone he met that one day he would be a billionaire. For decades, he made that his life’s pursuit, and when he finally became one, he felt no different, and was away from his family, so had nobody to share the moment with. It wasn’t until his best friend and lawyer got in a horrible car accident, that he finally started to consider what really matters and then change his life.
As part of President Nelson’s challenge to the women to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year, I have come across multiple scripture passages that also work with these ideas.
One of them is 2 Nephi 9:51, which partially reads: Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy.
So my question today that I will be discussing is “What matters?”
The answer to this question is something we struggle with from the time we are children, and we revisit it even as adults. It’s hard to know what really matters, and what we should desire and spend our energy around because our friends, peers, media, and more, all spin us in different directions, telling us what we need to have or what’s wrong with us because of what we don’t have.
Because of the world’s views, often our feelings of self-worth are impacted by how we look, what we have, and how much money we make.
Kids, especially teenagers, are really bombarded with this false reality. They get teased for how they are dressed, or for really anything about them that isn’t defined by their peers as cool.
Teasing is always going to be an issue. It will be hard to stop it. However, I know that we can raise our children in a way that teasing and bullying will not bother them. They will know who they are, how special they are, whose opinions really matter, and what things make a difference in their lives. And as we teach the rising generation these eternal truths, we will remember and apply them to our lives as adults as well.
How do we do this? Well, let’s delve into the scriptures, and also passages from Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s talk, “You Matter to Him.”
Let me ask a series of questions and then provide the answer. The answers work for all of us, children, teens and adults! First:
- How should I react when someone makes fun of me, or puts me down?
2Nephi 8 – 7 Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart I have written my law, fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.
8 For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool. But my righteousness shall be forever, and my salvation from generation to generation.
So the first step is to not take what they say to heart. They will die someday, but God and His righteousness go on forever. We should care much more about what God thinks. This is hard, but we can do it! Secondly:
Matthew 5:44 – But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.
Luke 6:35 – But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
This is something all of us can do, whether we are a child getting teased, a mother being insulted, etc. Praying for someone who has hurt us can bring a lot of peace, for instead of hatred or bitterness or fear, we can feel compassion and mercy. We can feel the love that God has for that person, regardless of behavior, especially if we make the effort to serve them, expecting nothing in return.
- They think they are better than me because I don’t have what they have. Is that true?
Matthew 5:45 – …for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
Acts 10:34 – Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.
Proverbs 22:2 – The rich and poor meet together: the Lord is the maker of them all.
President Uchtdorf: quote“No matter where you live, no matter how humble your circumstances, how meager your employment, how limited your abilities, how ordinary your appearance, or how little your calling in the Church may appear to you, you are not invisible to your Heavenly Father. He loves you. He knows your humble heart and your acts of love and kindness. Together, they form a lasting testimony of your fidelity and faith.”close quote
Regardless of earthly wealth and prestige, each of us is a child of God. He created all of us. God loves everybody unconditionally with a love we cannot even fathom, whether we follow Him or not. He does not favor those with fame and fortune, but rather looks tenderly on those who are kind and love others.
- Is having the best stuff and looking the best really what makes people happy? Is it what we should want? Does it define who we are?
Matthew 6:19 – Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
1Timothy 6:10 – For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
So we know it’s not earthly treasure and money that makes people happy. So, what is it? And how does God look at us?
1 Samuel 16:7 – But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.
Proverbs 22:1 -A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.
Doctrine and Covenants 18:10 – Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.
The Lord counsels against the love of money, favor, and physical appearance. What matters to Him is the richness of one’s soul and heart. And all souls are great in His eyes. What a wonderful truth to realize!
I love this quote by Pres. Uchtdorf – Quote”Disciples of Jesus Christ understand that compared to eternity, our existence in this mortal sphere is only “a small moment” in space and time.10 They know that a person’s true value has little to do with what the world holds in high esteem. They know you could pile up the accumulated currency of the entire world and it could not buy a loaf of bread in the economy of heaven.”close quote
- If having lots of money and things aren’t important, what is?
1Timothy 6:11 – But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
Matthew 6:33 – But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
John 14:6 – Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Just as Jesus said in Matthew 6, we should lay up treasures in Heaven. This life is short. We can’t take our money, nice clothes, and fancy electronics with us. Our character, our faith, our love, and our knowledge, we can take with us. As we try to be like Jesus and follow His perfect example, we will be blessed. What really matters is outlined beautifully in the beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12). Any blessing the Lord gives to us is infinitely more valuable than anything we can acquire on earth.
Based on all this, “Brothers, and sisters, boys and girls, what matters?”
I think the best way to answer this is through scripture verses that show direction on how to raise a child. Christ loves the little children and wishes us to be like them, so what we teach them should be a direct reflection of what Christ would teach them – what really matters.
Mosiah 4:14-15 – And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness. But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.
3 John 1:4 – I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
Isaiah 54:13 – And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.
Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live…Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities (The Family: A Proclamation to the World).
“President Uchtdorf said: Those who will “inherit the kingdom of God”11 are those who become “as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love.”12 “For every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”13 Such disciples understand also “that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.”14
So, what really matters? It’s walking in truth, following Christ, serving others, humbling ourselves, and becoming like a child so that we can inherit the Kingdom of God. This life is not about what the world thinks is important. Those things are fleeting. All that matters is that we embrace the light of Christ, and share that light with others through example and service, so we can live with Him and Heavenly Father eternally.
Brothers and sisters, boys and girls, I know that God loves each of you. He is on your side. He is with you always. He trusts you to share the light of the gospel with the rest of His precious children. We are rich because we have the fullness of the gospel and we have His abiding love and infinite atonement. And that is all that matters.