From my sacrament meeting talk at Asian Ward, Provo YSA 1st stake in June 9th, 2014
프로보 청년 독신 1스테이크 아시안 와드에서 했던 성찬식 말씀
On a spring day in 1820, a boy named Joseph made a important decision that was, pray to God and ask which church was right. Through his righteous decision, his prayer was answered, and he saw God the father, and the son, Jesus Christ. By using his agency in a righteous way, he was able to prepare himself to become a first living prophet who restored the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ in this latter day.
Agency is the privilege of choice which was introduced by God the Eternal Father to all of his children. Each human on the earth has an agency and depending on their choice of an action, the consequences are followed. In the field of artificial intelligence in computer science, we define these structures as multi-agents systems. In the systems, we can describe our decision making process with a few terms such as state, action, consequences, preference, and Goal.
State is a current state that agents faced. This state cannot be changed nor manipulated by the agents in the system. Joseph Smith faced on the states of confusion. He was confused with many denominations. Because of the state that Joseph Smith faced, he was able to think about the religion seriously.
Action, Preference, Goal, and Consequence
Action can be performed by agents who make decisions based on their preferences that are prioritized based on their goals. Action is also followed by consequences. A boy Joseph had a specific goal that helped him prioritize his preferences well. His goal was to find the true church. Based on his goal, he set studying and reading scriptures as his first priority and pray to God. When the time came to perform the action that he chose, based on his priority in his preferences, he went to the grove and pray sincerely. The consequence of his choice of an action was communicating with God and Jesus Christ.
In the systems, we can clearly observe that how all that terms are cohesively related and we may be able to find how we can use our agency effectively in our lives. I’ll talk about three important principles that help us prepare ourselves to use our agency righteously in our daily lives.
1. Set Goals based on The Truth of The Gospel of Jesus Christ
First, we need to set our daily and life goals based on the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Truth never grows old. Truth is about things ‘as they are,’ ‘as they were,’ and ‘as they are to come’ (D&C 93:24) . Jesus said, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”(Revelation 22:13). Setting our goals based on the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ leads us to prioritize our preferences righteously and help us to see everything in eternal aspect. When we face the situation that we need to exercise our agencies, we will be able to choose our actions easily according to our prioritized preferences based on the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
President Spencer W. Kimball stated: “If we live in such a way that the considerations of eternity press upon us, we will make better decisions. (Journal of Discourses, 3:221; italics added.)
In 2007, I was in the military and our battalion was engaged in managing and driving military motor vehicles. after tactical training, our company was planning on having feast at night. That night, every soldiers in the company drank. I was the only member of the church and my goal was keeping the word of wisdom, so I was the only one who didn’t drink when our commander asked us to drink. After we finished the feast, one of my fellow soldiers got injured by the falling soft drink can that was placed on the shelf above his head. At this time, no one was able to drive him to the hospital, but because I didn’t drink, I was able to drive him to a hospital. My goal was based on the gospel of Jesus Christ, and my preference leaded me to choose an action “do not drink”, and the consequence was “help my fellow soldiers who got injured to get treatment”.
2. Having a Companionship With Holy Ghost
Second, we need to have a companionship with Holy Ghost. Satan may manipulate the state that we face and make us to have agony to interfere our decision making. If someone intrude into our state, we may also need to have a supporter who can help us make right decision based on our righteous goals. Holy Ghost is a real one being. Even though he is only one, his influence can be spread out and reach all the children of God.
Jacob reminds us also that ‘the Spirit speaketh the truth … of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be.’ [Jacob 4:13.] Holy Ghost will protect us from evil and assist us to exercise our agencies righteously throughout the life.
It is not easy to feel and listen to the spirit of God, but it becomes easy when you obey the commandments of God. Once we keep the commandments, we become worthy men. If we are not worthy, His spirit will not dwell in us because his spirit will not dwell in unclean tabernacles. (“The Spirit of the Lord doth not dwell in unholy temples.” Helaman 4:24.) And we cannot have a testimony without the Spirit of God. Brothers and Sisters, be worthy so that we can have a companionship with Holy Ghost to get supported to choose the right in our life.
3. Read And Study Scriptures
Third, like what Joseph did, we need to read and study scriptures. We sometimes don’t recognize the prompting of the spirit. It may because we are not worthy, or God trust us and respect our agency. In this situation, we mostly rely on our preferences based on our goals to exercise our agencies. Once we made our goals based on the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we need to persistently and proactively seek the knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ through the scriptures. We cannot expect to exercise our agencies righteously or recognize the spirit without making efforts.
President Uchtdorf stated: “We cannot expect to experience the blessings of faith by standing inactive on the sidelines any more than we can experience the benefits of health by sitting on a sofa watching sporting events on television and giving advice to the athletes.”
Study scriptures enlighten us how we can exercise our agencies righteously and help us understand what our Heavenly father expects us to do in our lives.
One of my best friends is one of good example for studying scriptures. He has tried to study scriptures and lives worthy life. This habit helped him to set his standard for marriage. When he decided to propose to his girl friend, he knew that she was the one who can help him walk in the light and live in the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout their marriage life. The spirit may told him, but mainly because of what he saw from her actions, and because of what he heard when she spoke, he was able to distinguish by his knowledge and feeling that he obtained from the scripture studies that she was the one that he wanted to marry.
Jesus says, “For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward. Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward. But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned. (D&C58:26~29)
Brother and Sisters, I pray that we can anxiously be engaged in studying scriptures so that we may be able to do many good things of our own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness in our lives.
Agency is a powerful tools and gift from our heavenly father. Through exercising our agencies, we can learn and grow and become like heavenly father if we use it righteously. Even Jesus Christ used his agency to become our savior in pre mortal life. When he came down to the earth, he again exercised his agency to choose to sacrifice himself. His goal was the same as the will of God. He said, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me:nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt 26:39). His preferences based on will of God leads him to atone for us so that we can return to heavenly father through faith, repentance, and all the ordinances that we need to have in this earthy life. I know he lived, died, and lives again. He is our perfect example of exercise agency righteously. Only through him, we can return to our heavenly father.
Brothers and Sisters, I pray that we may exercise our agencies righteously so that we may do good things and live again with our heavenly father in the name of our savior, redeemer, even Jesus Christ. Amen.