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President Thomas S. Monson: The three R's of choice

Right, responsibility and results of choice

In his priesthood meeting address, President Thomas S. Monson spoke of choices and consequences, grouping his categories into "the three R's of choice," which he identified as the right of choice, the responsibility of choice, and the results of choice,

"I mention first the right of choice. I am so grateful to a loving heavenly Father for His gift of agency, or the right to choose. ...

"We know that we had our agency before this world was and that Lucifer attempted to take it from us. He had no confidence in the principle of agency or in us and argued for imposed salvation. He insisted that with his plan none would be lost, but he seemed not to recognize — or perhaps not to care — that in addition, none would be any wiser, any stronger, any more compassionate or any more grateful if his plan were followed."

President Monson said the Firstborn in the Spirit offered Himself as a sacrifice to atone for the sins of all. "Through unspeakable suffering He became the Great Redeemer, the Savior of all mankind, thus making possible our successful return to our Father."

Of the second "R," President Monson said, "With the right of choice comes the responsibility to choose. We cannot be neutral; there is no middle ground. The Lord knows this; Lucifer knows this. As long as we live on this earth, Lucifer and his hosts will never abandon the hope of claiming our souls."

President Monson spoke of prayer as "the means whereby we could receive from Him God-given guidance to assist in our safe return at the end of mortal life. I speak, too, of the whisperings from that still, small voice within each of us, and I do not overlook the holy scriptures, written by mariners who successfully sailed the seas we too must cross."

President Monson said each of God's children has come to earth with all the tools necessary to make correct choices, including the spirit of Christ, which helps one discern good from evil.

"Although in our journey we will encounter forks and turnings in the road, we simply cannot afford the luxury of a detour from which we may never return," he warned. "Lucifer, that clever pied piper, plays his lilting melody and attracts the unsuspecting away from the safety of their chosen pathway, away from the counsel of loving parents, away from the security of God's teachings. He seeks not just the so-called refuse of humanity. He seeks all of us, including the very elect of God. King David listened, wavered, and then followed and fell. So did Cain in an earlier era and Judas Iscariot in a later one. His methods are cunning, his victims numerous."

President Monson cited a line in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland: "If you do not know where you want to go, it doesn't matter which path you take."

"Unlike Alice, we all know where we want to go, and it does matter which way we go, for by choosing our path, we choose our destination," President Monson said.

He pleaded with his listeners to determine "right here, right now, not to deviate from the path which will lead to our goal: eternal life with our Father in Heaven. Along that straight and true path there are other goals: missionary service, temple marriage, Church activity, scripture study, prayer, temple work. There are countless worthy goals to reach as we travel through life. Needed is our commitment to reach them."

President Monson spoke of the last "R" — results of choice. "All of our choices have consequences, some of which have little or nothing to do with our eternal salvation and others of which have everything to do with it.

"Whether you wear a green T-shirt or a blue one makes no difference in the long run. However, whether you decide to push a key on your computer which will take you to pornography can make all the difference in your life."

President Monson said no temptation or pressure can overcome a person unless he allows such. "If we make the wrong choice, we have no one to blame but ourselves."

He assured his listeners that if they have not already corrected the wrong choices they have made, there is a way do so: the process of repentance. "Our Savior died to provide you and me that blessed gift. Although the path is not easy, the promise is real: 'Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow" (Isaiah 9:18). "And I, the Lord, remember them no more" (Doctrine and Covenants 58:42).

In closing, President Monson told of Clayton Christensen, a member of the Church who is a professor of business administration at Harvard University. When he was 16, Clayton decided he would not play sports on Sunday. Years later, he played center on the basketball team at Oxford University in England. In a national tournament, they made the final four. Then, Brother Christensen saw to his horror that the final game was scheduled for Sunday. He prayed about it and received the answer: "Clayton, what are you even asking me for? You know the answer."

The team won the tournament, without Clayton.

Though it would have been easy to have regarded this as an extenuating circumstance, "the lesson he learned is that it is easier to keep the commandments 100 percent of the time than it is 98 percent of the time," President Monson said. — R. Scott Lloyd