Saturday, August 18, 2012

Bible Study: Moral Example

 Lead others  by Moral Example and Setting the Standard High

 Dinner Topics for Monday

By Ann Dibb

Heavenly Father does not want us to look to the world and follow its ever-changing trends. He wants us to look to Him and follow His unchanging guidance. He wants us to live the gospel and lead others to it by setting the standard high.

The scriptures provide many great examples to illustrate this idea. In the book of Judges in the Old Testament, we learn about Samson. Samson was born with great potential. His mother was promised, “He shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.”9 But as Samson grew, he looked more to the world’s temptations than to God’s direction. He made choices because they “pleaseth [him] well”10 rather than because those choices were right. Repeatedly, the scriptures use the phrase “and he went down”11 as they tell of Samson’s journeys, actions, and choices. Instead of arising and shining forth to fulfill his great potential, Samson was overcome by the world, lost his God-given power, and died a tragic, early death.

On the other hand, the scriptures provide the example of Daniel. Daniel was also born with great potential. In the book of Daniel, chapter 6, we read, “Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him.”12 When worldly challenges came to Daniel, he didn’t look down at the world—he arose and looked to heaven. Instead of following the king’s worldly decree that no one should pray to anyone but the king for 30 days, Daniel “went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.”13

Daniel was not afraid to arise and shine forth in following God’s commandments. Although he spent an uncomfortable night in the lions’ den for standing for what was right, he was protected and blessed for his obedience. When King Darius removed Daniel from the lions’ den the next morning, he made a decree that everyone should fear Daniel’s God and follow Daniel’s example of faithfulness. Truly, Daniel shows us what it means to be a standard for the nations and never lower our standards in the face of worldly temptations.

Arise and Shine Forth

I have been blessed to hear many modern-day examples of youth, just like you, who are not afraid to arise and shine forth and allow their light to be a standard among their peers. Joanna was one of only three members of the Church in her high school and the only young woman in her ward. She committed to herself and the Lord that she would never use bad language. When she was paired with a young man for a school project who had not made the same commitment, she did not lower her standards. She asked him to respect and honor her values. Over time, with many gentle and some not-so-gentle reminders, her friend formed new habits and used cleaner language. Many people noticed the difference, including his father, who thanked Joanna for being a good influence in his son’s life.14

On a recent assignment in the Philippines, I met Karen, who shared an experience she had as a Laurel while studying for a bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management. A teacher required that every student learn to make and taste the variety of drinks that would be served in their restaurants. Some of the drinks contained alcohol, and Karen knew it was against the Lord’s commandments for her to taste them. In the face of serious consequences, Karen found courage to arise and shine forth, and she did not partake of the drinks.

Karen explained: “My teacher approached me and asked me why I was not drinking. He said, ‘Miss Karen, how will you know the flavor and pass this important subject if you do not at least taste the drinks?’ I told him that I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and as members, we do not drink things that are harmful to us. Whatever he expected of me, even if it meant receiving a failing grade, I would understand, but I would not fail to live my personal standards.”

Weeks passed, and nothing more was said about that day. At the end of the semester, Karen knew her final grade would reflect her refusal to taste the drinks. She hesitated to look at her grade, but when she did, she discovered that she had received the highest grade in the class.

She said: “I learned through this experience that God … will surely bless us when we follow Him. I also know that even if I had received a failing grade, I would not regret what I had done. I know that I will never fail in the Lord’s sight when I choose to do what I know to be the right thing.”15

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