- Today I speak to all whose freedom to choose has been diminished by the effects of ill-advised choices of the past. I speak specifically of choices that have led to excessive debt and addictions to food, drugs, pornography, and other patterns of thought and action that diminish one’s sense of self-worth. All of these excesses affect us individually and undermine our family relationships.
To overcome debt and addictions, we need to learn to control our desires and break the cycle that we seem to not be able to stop.
- We must want more than anything else to change our lives so that we can break the cycle of debt and our uncontrolled wants.
The decisions that we make in our lives, turn into challenges that overtime, are harder and harder to overcome. Elder Hales assures us that there is no addiction or any cycle that we get into that can't be overcome by the Savior. The Savior is the answer to all our tests of mortality.
- Our challenges, including those we create by our own decisions, are part of our test in mortality. Let me assure you that your situation is not beyond the reach of our Savior. Through Him, every struggle can be for our experience and our good. Each temptation we overcome is to strengthen us, not destroy us. The Lord will never allow us to suffer beyond what we can endure.
Elder Hales reminds us that our success in life is not measured by how much we are tempted, but my how we respond when we are tempted.
- Our success is never measured by how strongly we are tempted but by how faithfully we respond. We must ask for help from our Heavenly Father and seek strength through the Atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ. In both temporal and spiritual things, obtaining this divine assistance enables us to become provident providers for ourselves and others.
Elder Hales discusses the principles of provident living. There are worldly things that we need to overcome and by doing so, we will receive worldly and spiritual blessings.
- To provide providently, we must practice the principles of provident living: joyfully living within our means, being content with what we have, avoiding excessive debt, and diligently saving and preparing for rainy-day emergencies. When we live providently, we can provide for ourselves and our families and also follow the Savior’s example to serve and bless others.
- Being provident providers, we must keep that most basic commandment, “Thou shalt not covet.” Our world is fraught with feelings of entitlement. Some of us feel embarrassed, ashamed, less worthwhile if our family does not have everything the neighbors have. As a result, we go into debt to buy things we can’t afford—and things we do not really need. Whenever we do this, we become poor temporally and spiritually. We give away some of our precious, priceless agency and put ourselves in self-imposed servitude. Money we could have used to care for ourselves and others must now be used to pay our debts. What remains is often only enough to meet our most basic physical needs. Living at the subsistence level, we become depressed, our self-worth is affected, and our relationships with family, friends, neighbors, and the Lord are weakened. We do not have the time, energy, or interest to seek spiritual things.
Elder Hales shares a couple personal experiences with his wife that taught him about the principles of provident living. He summarizes those experiences with this advice.
- When faced with the choice to buy, consume, or engage in worldly things and activities, we all need to learn to say to one another, “We can’t afford it, even though we want it!” or “We can afford it, but we don’t need it—and we really don’t even want it!”
He shares the relationship between provident living and tithing and fast offerings.
- The foundation of provident living is the law of the tithe. The primary purpose of this law is to help us develop faith in our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Tithing helps us overcome our desires for the things of this world and willingly make sacrifices for others. Tithing is the great equitable law, for no matter how rich or poor we are, all of us pay the same one-tenth of our increase annually, and all of us receive blessings so great “that there shall not be room enough to receive [them].”
- In addition to our tithes, we should also be an example with the payment of fast offerings. A fast offering is at least the cost of the two consecutive meals from which we fast each month. By not eating these two meals, we draw close to the Lord in humility and prayer and also participate in anonymous giving to bless our brothers and sisters all over the world.
He talks about additions and the role that the Savior plays in helping us overcome our cravings.
- In seeking to overcome debt and addictive behaviors, we should remember that addiction is the craving of the natural man, and it can never be satisfied. It is an insatiable appetite. When we are addicted, we seek those worldly possessions or physical pleasures that seem to entice us. But as children of God, our deepest hunger and what we should be seeking is what the Lord alone can provide—His love, His sense of worth, His security, His confidence, His hope in the future, and assurance of His love, which brings us eternal joy.
Elder Hales concludes with his testimony.
- I testify that the appetite to possess worldly things can only be overcome by turning to the Lord. The hunger of addiction can only be replaced by our love for Him. He stands ready to help each one of us. “Fear not,” He said, “for you are mine, and I have overcome the world.”
Elder Hales has demonstrated the principles of provident living in his own life. He and his wife have made decisions in their lives that taught them to overcome the natural man. When they were able to stand strong in these crucial moments, the blessings of the Lord were upon them and strengthened them. I am grateful for their example of how I should be striving to live my life. I am grateful for the stories they share and how their lives demonstrate the blessings that can come into my life and I live my life with the principles of provident living.