In God we trustI am drawn to simple, yet profound statements: one sentence sermons that make me think and stew and ponder. Perhaps this is why, in looking over my notes from General Conference, Elder Robert C. Gay’s talk seems to run the most through my mind. His reiteration of the Savior’s question to His disciples, “What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” made me stop in my tracks and examine my life.

What am I giving in exchange for my soul?

A brief look on the surface and I appear to be doing fairly well. I don’t have issues with the Word of Wisdom, keeping the Sabbath day holy, paying tithing, or any of the basic commandments.  Perhaps it was for people like me that Elder Gay presents this example:

robert-c-gay-10In the Bible we read that it was a commandment-keeping, wealthy young man who knelt before the Savior and asked what he needed to do to have eternal life. He turned away grieved when the Savior said, “One thing thou lackest.”

Hmmm….I can identify a bit too well with that rich young ruler, only I don’t want to turn away. I have to dig deeper. I ask myself again.

“What am I giving in exchange for my soul?”

Thankfully, Elder Gay provides a checklist of sorts to help me recognize the areas {oh, there are so many!} where I need to change and improve.

We are to give up all our sins, big or small, for the Father’s reward of eternal life. We are to forget self-justifying stories, excuses, rationalizations, defense mechanisms, procrastinations, appearances, personal pride, judgmental thoughts, and doing things our way. We are to separate ourselves from all worldliness and take upon us the image of God in our countenances.

There it is. When I find myself:

  1. using self-justification
  2. making excuses
  3. rationalizing
  4. employing defense mechanisms
  5. procrastinating
  6. putting on appearances
  7. becoming proud
  8. judging
  9. doing things my way

I realize those are warning signs for what I need to work on, things I am in danger of exchanging for my soul. My problem is I don’t always notice when I engage in those actions. But I am learning . . . slowly.

To the question, “What will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Satan would have us sell our lives for the candy bars and championships of this world. The Savior, however, calls us, without price, to exchange our sins, to take upon us His countenance, and to take that into the hearts of those within our reach. For this we may receive all that God has, which we are told is greater than all the combined treasures of this earth. Can you even imagine?

It’s hard and painful to root out those habits that lead me further from God. I am forever grateful I can repent over and over as I try over and over to improve. I want to show through my actions that I don’t just want to imagine. I want to receive.

  • Do you find it difficult to recognize those behaviors Elder Gay mentions in your own life?
  • What one line sermons have caused you to improve or change your behavior in some way?
photo by: kevin dooley

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