- We are taught many small and simple things in the gospel of Jesus Christ. We need to be reminded that in total and over a significant period of time, these seemingly small things bring to pass great things.
He gives us several examples, done on a daily basis, build a strong foundation of righteousness. The daily doing of these tasks are not measured as significant on a daily basis, but over time, build our faith in Jesus Christ.
- Consider the scripture study we’ve been taught to incorporate into our daily lives. Or consider the personal prayers and the kneeling family prayers that are regular practices for faithful Latter-day Saints. Consider attendance at seminary for youth or institute classes for young adults. Though each of these practices may seem to be small and simple, over time they result in powerful spiritual uplift and growth. This occurs because each of these small and simple things invites the companionship of the Holy Ghost.
President Oaks also shares that the repenting of the small and seemingly insignificant things, increases our self-awareness of the decisions we make. This self-evaluation should take place before we partake of the sacrament each week. Doing so will, over time, build a strong awareness of our need for the Savior's atonement in our lives.
- Another source of spiritual uplift and growth is an ongoing practice of repenting, even of seemingly small transgressions. Our own inspired self-evaluations can help us see how we have fallen short and how we can do better. Such repentance should precede our weekly partaking of the sacrament.
He speaks about daily decisions in our lives that seem unimportant or insignificant like the movies we watch or the music we listen to. What we take into our lives from the media effects our view of the world, how we treat others, and our personal interactions with others. We should be careful with the decisions we make when it comes to media because, over time, it can negatively impact us.
- Those “seemingly insignificant” private decisions include how we use our time, what we view on television and the internet, what we read, the art and music with which we surround ourselves at work and at home, what we seek for entertainment, and how we apply our commitment to be honest and truthful. Another seemingly small and simple thing is being civil and cheerful in our personal interactions.
President Oaks reminds us that small and simple things require consistent and continuous effort. Doing things every once in a while will not have the same effect.
- None of these desirable small and simple things will lift us to great things unless they are practiced consistently and continuously.
I have had a saying my entire life that says something like; if you are not moving forward, you are by default losing ground. President Oaks sums up that entire thought in this excellent example.
- We are surrounded by media influences and cultural deteriorations that will carry us downstream in our values if we are not continually resisting. To move upstream toward our eternal goal, we must constantly keep paddling. It helps if we are part of a team that is paddling together, like a rowing crew in action. To extend that example even further, the cultural currents are so strong that if we ever stop paddling, we will be carried downstream toward a destination we do not seek but which becomes inevitable if we do not constantly try to move forward.
He uses one last example of making bad choices that can lead us to an undesirable place. We should be careful with anything addictive as, over time, these can take away our agency to choose a right path.
- Even small acts of disobedience or minor failures to follow righteous practices can draw us down toward an outcome we have been warned to avoid. The Word of Wisdom provides an example of this. Likely the effect on the body of one cigarette or one drink of alcohol or one dose of another drug cannot be measured. But over time, the effect is powerful and may be irreversible.
President Oaks speaks so clearly that the simple decisions we make can create a powerful foundation for our gospel lives. The foundation is not built in one day but is built over time and is reinforced by the constant and continuous practices in our daily lives. I have seen this in my own life as I have been studying the teachings of the prophets. As I have set aside daily time to read, learn, and share my studies, I have been strengthened and my daily outlook on life is brighter. When I do this, I am more patient, more kind, more helpful, and more in tune with the Spirit. On the other side, when I lack the effort or life is too hectic to set aside this time, I realize I am lacking on those key characteristics. I believe it is by small and simple things that the Lord blesses us and our faith is increased. I am going to try to be more consistent in the little things so my foundation is strengthened throughout my life.