Be true to who you are… maybe.

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Recently a local high school had a motivational speaker. I asked some of the students what the speaker said. “Be true to who you are” was the response. I asked them what that meant. I was answered something along the lines of “we should be happy with who we really are and not care about what others think.”

This is a very popular message in our world today. The most notable version of it was presented to me in the Disney movie “Frozen“. Be true to who you are and don’t worry about what others think.

Whereas I admire this message in one context, and can see the good that can come from it. I’m also deeply concerned with it if it’s used in another context.

The question I ask is: which part of you are you being true to? We are duel beings.

All of us are children of God in a spiritual, yet very real sense. Within us are the seeds and the potential of divinity. If you mean “be true to the divine nature inside you regardless of what the world says”, then I’m on board all the way with that message. This is called moral courage.

At the same time we are all born into a fallen condition. Abinadi taught that we are born “carnal, sensual and devilish”. This means that we have a very natural inclination toward the things of the flesh. If it is easy, exciting, or fun, the natural man in us is drawn to it. The problem is that

“the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit and putteth off the natural man…” (Mosiah 3:19)

If that’s who we’re being true to then we’re in trouble and I’m not entirely confident the world is steering me toward being true to my divine nature.

What prophets and apostles invite us to do is be true to the divine nature, and resist the natural man. They may be a minority in this but I stand with them.

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Give me more commandments.

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An interesting reward for obedience is given through a revelation to Joseph Smith in the Doctrine and Covenants.

“Blessed are they…who have obeyed my gospel…And they shall also be crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not a few…”
D&C 59:3-4

Basically the Lord is saying ” if you obey my commandments, I’ll give you more commandments.”

We live in a world that celebrates a restraint free lifestyle. And the standards Jesus Christ has set through prophets are often viewed by others as restricting. Why would a person who has so many restrictions on their life already, want to get further restrictions?

Commandments = Restrictions.

I will now attempt to explain a different paradigm for commandments.

Father Abraham had a desire that all righteous people should have. He relates it with these words:

“And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.”
Abraham 1:2

Abraham understood that in order to be a greater follower of righteousness he needed greater laws to follow. Those greater or higher laws come in the ordinances of the priesthood. Abraham knew he had to find the priesthood of God to gain access to those higher laws. And as Abraham obtains those covenants, he is given greater knowledge, greater blessings, and greater peace. Ultimately, he became an heir to the promises of God.

Commandments = Happiness

I will conclude with a more practical example. A group of ancient disciples were given instructions from the Lord. As they were obedient they received further instructions. (See Ether 1-2)

“And it came to pass that they did travel in the wilderness, and did build barges, in which they did cross many waters, being directed continually by the hand of the Lord.”
Ether 2:6

Ultimately commandments are instructions. They are direction from an all knowing source to us who sit in darkness.

Commandments = Help

And I don’t know about everyone else, but if I’m humble and being honest, I need all the help I can get.