- Agency is to act with accountability and responsibility for our actions. Our agency is essential to the plan of salvation. With it we are “free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil.”
He shares some details about our first act of agency in the premortal world.
- Before we came to this earth, Heavenly Father presented His plan of salvation—a plan to come to earth and receive a body, choose to act between good and evil, and progress to become like Him and live with Him forever.
- Our agency—our ability to choose and act for ourselves—was an essential element of this plan. Without agency we would be unable to make right choices and progress. Yet with agency we could make wrong choices, commit sin, and lose the opportunity to be with Heavenly Father again. For this reason a Savior would be provided to suffer for our sins and redeem us if we would repent. By His infinite Atonement, He brought about “the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice.”
- In our premortal state we chose to follow the Savior Jesus Christ! And because we did, we were allowed to come to earth. I testify that by making the same choice to follow the Savior now, while we are here on earth, we will obtain an even greater blessing in the eternities. But let it be known: we must continue to choose to follow the Savior. Eternity is at stake, and our wise use of agency and our actions are essential that we might have eternal life.
He shares that the Savior had His agency to be our Savior. He also notes that this agency was never taken from Him during his mortal journey. He chose to remain obedient in the face of temptation and fulfilled his divine mission by choice, not by requirement.
- Though He “was in all points tempted like as we are,” with every choice and every action He exercised the agency to be our Savior—to break the chains of sin and death for us. And by His perfect life, He taught us that when we choose to do the will of our Heavenly Father, our agency is preserved, our opportunities increase, and we progress.
When we make the right choices, our agency results in peace and happiness. The opposite is also true. When we choose to make the wrong decisions, it results in pain and unhappiness.
- Whenever we choose to come unto Christ, take His name upon us, and follow His servants, we progress along the path to eternal life.
- In our mortal journey, it is helpful to remember that the opposite is also true: when we don’t keep the commandments or follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost, our opportunities are reduced; our abilities to act and progress are diminished.
Elder Hales gives some examples of proper choices that result in freedom and happiness.
- When we hearken to the Word of Wisdom, we escape the captivity of poor health and addiction to substances that literally rob us of our ability to act for ourselves.
- As we obey the counsel to avoid and get out of debt now, we use our agency and obtain the liberty to use our disposable income for helping and blessing others.
- When we follow the prophets’ counsel to hold family home evening, family prayer, and family scripture study, our homes become an incubator for our children’s spiritual growth. There we teach them the gospel, bear our testimonies, express our love, and listen as they share their feelings and experiences. By our righteous choices and actions, we liberate them from darkness by increasing their ability to walk in the light.
Elder Hales makes it clear that we will never be perfect in all the decisions we make. That is why we have such a strong need for the Savior. He personally invites those that have lost their way to come back to the peace and happiness that is found in the Savior.
- I acknowledge that all of us make mistakes. The scriptures teach us, “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” For those who find themselves captive to past unrighteous choices, stuck in a dark corner, without all the blessings available by the righteous exercise of agency, we love you. Come back! Come out of the dark corner and into the light. Even if you have to walk across a newly varnished floor, it is worth it. Trust that “through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind [including you and me] may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”
He closes by reminding us that our righteous choices will bring us closer to knowing God and our Savior better.
- When we exercise our agency in righteousness, we come to know Them, become more like Them, and prepare ourselves for that day when “every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess” that Jesus is our Savior.
Agency is such a vital part of our Heavenly Father's plan that He was willing to let one third of his spirit children choose to walk away from Him and be lost forever. I think that example shows us that our agency is an eternal principle and one that God would not deprive us from in our eternal progression. What a great blessing it is to have a Savior that will make all things right in our lives. As we choose to give our lives in His cause, we are blessed with happiness, joy, and eternal life. We are all blessed by the gift the Savior has given us and we have an obligation to make this known to all the world.