The more an individual gives his will to the Lord, the more his own ability to exercise moral agency grows, said Russell T. Osguthorpe, Sunday School general president for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during a Church Educational System devotional on Sunday night.
The broadcast for young adults — single and married — originated in the Marriott Center on the Brigham Young University campus in Provo, Utah, and was translated and broadcast in many languages throughout the world.
Brother Osguthorpe invited listeners to ponder the meaning of the word "will," how they can give their will to God and how they can know if they are succeeding at giving their will to God.
“If God’s will is to be done by us and through us, then our will needs to be the same as God’s,” he said. “We need to want what he wants.”
The adversary would have individuals believe that there is no such thing as will — that they have no choice but to follow their own natural impulses, he said. “Some mistakenly believe that our will is predetermined by our genes and that we have no control at all over it.”
Using the example of people knowing important things for physical health — diet and exercise — Brother Osguthorpe said that the percentage of those who actually eat right and exercise is much lower.
“There is an obvious gap between knowing something and doing it,” he said. “Most people know what they should do, but few have the will to do it.”
It is through both ancient and modern revelation that individuals learn they have agency, a will and desires. When necessary, their will and desires can change — through the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ — to align more with God's will.
“Our will is the collective force of our desires or motives,” he said. “Our will underlies all of our actions. So how do we go about strengthening our will? How can we give our will to the Lord?"
It is through knowing what the Lord desires an individual to do and then acting on that knowledge that they are able to strengthen their will, said Brother Osguthorpe. “Sometimes actions matter more than words.”
Acting becomes easier as individuals make promises to the Lord and give him their heart, will and soul. As they feel the love of the Lord in their life, they will know they are succeeding in giving their will to him.
"We can say what he wants said," he said. "We can do what he wants done. We can be a witness to the world of God’s beloved Son — all because we want to do these things."
As they do these things, a change happens in their heart, and their gratitude for the Atonement of Jesus Christ increases. As they accept the Savior's invitation to come and be strengthened and forgiven, they are able to feel his infinite love, Brother Osguthorpe said.
"When we feel strength to do something difficult, we will sing the song [of redeeming love] in our heart. … Each time we sing it, we will be giving our will to him, the only gift we have to give him. He will not only accept this gift. He will expand it and deepen it."
Marianne Holman is a reporter for the LDS Church News in Salt Lake City. EMAIL: email@example.com