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Ancient Testaments: The 'true' are the giants of heaven and earth

We believe in being both "honest" and "true."

The Lord wasn't multiplying words when he inspired the 13th Article of Faith. Those two words mean different things.

Honesty reflects things as they really are, or as they really were. Vital and noble as that is, to be true is something more. You might say it reflects the future.

The archer presently aims his arrow at the target. Fine. But in the future, during the crucial moments after it is released, will the arrow fly straight? Will it be "true"?

A superlative height in the mortal climb is when you or I are, at last, found to be "true," not merely as viewed by other humans, but in the details only God can see.

When we are true, our promises are like prophecies. The future turns out to be just as we vowed it would be.

We are not speaking here of being fortune tellers. We are speaking of being true to our word — keeping promises. And above all, promises to God.

If it were up to me to think up a plan of salvation, I might have neglected the need to be true. (I'm trying to be honest here.) On my own, I would not have grasped its place in the divine nature.

But in all-seeing eyes, we are incomplete until we prove true again and again, until our latest breath.

The Author of the plan even specifies what promises we should make, at what point in life to make them, and how often we should renew them with him.

And he chooses not to call them promises at all, or even contracts. He uses a special term: covenants.

The business of entering a contract — wary parties cautiously framing their words, negotiating for protection or advantage — can be distasteful and mutually demeaning. It goes on every day in millions of offices, shops and dooryards.

Through God's covenants — made in quiet, sacred places — he and the other party become devoted partners. They reach toward each other. They invite, welcome and make way for each other. It is a mutual giving, a two-way offering of unselfish gifts — an offer of everything.

He is a covenant-making, covenant-keeping father. He has a perfect record of being "true." Those who are most ready to dwell with "the faithful God, which keepeth covenant," are like him in at least this one respect.

So, when God invited Abraham into a close friendship, the invitation was made by means of a covenant. And the invitation was not to Abraham alone, but "thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations."

Several centuries later, God was still saying to that seed — Israel, "If ye will … keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people."

And: "Keep … the words of this covenant, … that ye may prosper in all that ye do."

Several millennia later, the saga of Mormon pioneers — also of Abraham's seed — was filled with miracles and mercies. Why? Because that same God was a personal partner in their trek. He asked that they "be organized into companies, with a covenant …."

The "true" are the covenant-keepers. They are the dependable, the giants of heaven and earth, the godly. They are large in history and precious in the Lamb's book of life. Once they have vowed a vow, you need not sit on the edge of your chair. Consider it done.

(References: Matthew 6:7; 3 Nephi 19:24; Deuteronomy 7:9; Genesis 17:9; Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 29:9; Doctrine and Covenants 136:2)

Wayne E. Brickey, who lives in Gallatin, Mo., is a retired Church Educational System teacher and curriculum writer and has been a tour guide to Holy Land and Mormon history sites. His novel "Before His Manger: The Long Wait for Christ's First Coming" can be found in serialized segments on MormonTimes.com.