I’m a rather practical thinker. One Christmas, as a teenager, I suggested to my brother that for Christmas he buy me a record album — yes, I am that old — that he really wanted. I said I would buy him an album I wanted. On Christmas morning I unwrapped his gift to me. He unwrapped my gift to him. We “ohhed” and “ahhed,” then promptly swapped gifts. Both of us were wholly satisfied.
During the Christmas season, one of our primary considerations should be, what can I give the Savior this year? Without a doubt, following the recommendations in the "Light the World" advent calendar, which is online at Mormon.org, would be a fabulous gift to the Savior and, as you bless other’s lives, you will come away “wholly satisfied.”
I offer an additional suggestion to please the Savior, to bless you and others, that will also leave you “wholly satisfied.” Between now and Christmas, read and ponder 3 Nephi 9-30. In a mere 40 pages, readers can learn about eternal truths pertinent to the gospel of Jesus Christ. You will “hear” sublime doctrines as they fell from the lips of the Savior of the world:
• Who, under the direction of his father, “created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are” (3 Nephi 9:15).
• Who “created his children that they should possess (the earth)” (1 Nephi 17:36).
• Who, with his father, provided a way “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).
• Who, as his teachings were implemented, saw the creation of a society where “there was no contention … because of the love of God … in the hearts of the people … (and) there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God” (4 Nephi 1:15-16).
This God that we worship — whose birth we celebrate each Christmas — came into mortality a small, helpless infant, the offspring of God and the mortal Mary. He grew and experienced mortality. He lived a perfect life, free from sin, and willingly undertook the Atonement of all mankind. He was crucified, died, rose from the dead, and through this process, became the Savior of World.
What could be more fitting at Christmastime than studying and pondering the eternal truths the resurrected and glorified Savior taught as he ministered to the Nephites in the Americas in 3 Nephi 9-30? Contemplate a few of the timeless truths found therein:
• Jesus Christ came “unto the world to bring redemption unto the world, to save the world from sin” (3 Nephi 9:21).
• Jesus loves us and sorrows when we sin. He pleads, “return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you” and “gather you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings” (3 Nephi 9:13; 10:6).
• The devil tempts us to sin and when we do, Satan “laugheth and his angels rejoice, because of the slain of the fair sons and daughters of my people” (see 3 Nephi 9:2).
• It is critical to keep Christ's doctrine pure, free from disputation and contention (see 3 Nephi 11:28).
• In his timeless sermon to the Nephites, which parallels the Sermon on the Mount, Christ defines what true discipleship requires: testifying and being an example of Jesus Christ; being humble, empathetic, meek, merciful, pure and holy; being a peacemaker, a seeker after righteousness, a filial and devoted husband or wife; being tenderhearted, forgiving and charitable; keeping all his commandments; mastering anger; shunning adultery, fornication and even thoughts of such things; being temperate, forgiving and “perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect” — made possible as we strive and are completed or made whole through the Atonement of Jesus Christ (see 3 Nephi 12).
• The Savior enjoins: charity; pondering; praying always and teaches us how to pray; living the law of the fast; and having an eye single to his glory, for “no man can serve two masters … God and Mammon,” charging us to be faithful and trust God (3 Nephi 13).
• We are warned against unrighteous judgment and instead are encouraged to focus on overcoming our own weaknesses. We are told to beware of false prophets and taught how to discern them (see 3 Nephi 14).
And we are only through four of 21 chapters! Proceeding on in 3 Nephi we learn of: baptism performed by those with proper authority; the restoration of the gospel to the earth; Christ’s love for little children and our sacred duty to protect and teach them and to become as little children ourselves; healing the sick; the ministering of angels; the sacrament and Sabbath day worship; the gift of the Holy Ghost; the destiny of the House of Israel; the law of consecration; the Second Coming of the Savior, and much more.
What a wonderful gift to the Savior: to reach out to him, know him better and embrace his teachings. What a wonderful gift to ourselves as we draw closer to Christ and feel his love. Both gifts will bless those around us and generations yet to come. As Christmas approaches, consider studying and pondering 3 Nephi 9-30. You will find it to be “wholly satisfying.”
Kristine Frederickson writes on topics that affect members of the LDS Church worldwide in her column “LDS World." She teaches part time at BYU. Her views do not necessarily represent those of BYU.