Gifts of the Spirit

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She Shall Find What Is Lost by Brian Kershisnik

Articles:

Gifts of the Spirit by Robert D. Hales

Quick to Observe: The Gift of Discernment by Elder David A. Bednar

The Seduction of Our Gifts by Pat Debenham

Gifts of the Spirit by Craig Manscill and Derek Mock

There Are Many Gifts by Elder Marvin J. Ashton

A Compensatory Spiritual Power for the Righteous by Elder Neil L. Anderson

What Is Your Calling In Life by Jeffrey A, Thompson

Our Identity and Our Destiny by Elder Tad R. Callister

Gospel Gifts by C. Jeffrey Belliston

Creativity by Claudine Bigelow

Happiness, Your Heritage by Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Books:

The Witness of Women:Personal Experiences and Testimonies of the Restoration by Janice Johnson and Jennifer Reeder.  Chapter 9, “Gifts of the Spirit”

Approaching Zion by Hugh Nibley Chapter 4 “Gifts” & Chapter 5, “Deny Not the Gifts of God”

Gifts of Self-Esteem by Mary Jane Woodger, Chapter 9, “Rediscovering Our Individual Gifts”

Notes:

Spiritual Gifts Lesson

As Paul commanded us in 1 Corinthians 12:31 “we are to covet earnestly the best gifts.”

In the Doctrine and Covenants section 46 verse 7 we are “commanded in all things to ask of God who giveth liberally…and in verse 8 “seek earnestly the best gifts… Moroni in his final testimony tells us “And again I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift…

Obtaining spiritual gifts is the key to spiritual progression:

President George Q. Cannon stressed the need to seek after the blessings of the gifts of the Spirit in order to perfect us. He states:

If any of us are imperfect, it is our duty to pray for the gift that will make us perfect. Have I imperfections? I am full of them. What is my duty? To pray to God to give me the gifts that will correct these imperfections. If I am an angry man, it is my duty to pray for charity, which suffereth long and is kind. Am I an envious man? It is my duty to seek for charity, which envieth not. So with all the gifts of the gospel. They are intended for this purpose. No man ought to say, “Oh, I cannot help this; it is my nature.” He is not justified in it, for the reason that God has promised to give strength to correct these things, and to give gifts that will eradicate them. If a man lack wisdom, it is his duty to ask God for wisdom. The same with everything else. That is the design of God concerning His Church. He wants His Saints to be perfected in the truth. For this purpose He gives these gifts, and bestows them upon those who seek after them, in order that they may be a perfect people upon the face of the earth, notwithstanding their many weaknesses, because God has promised to give the gifts that are necessary for their perfection.  Can we obey the injunction of the Savior to be perfect without obtaining Spiritual Gifts?

The attainment of spiritual gifts and the gifts themselves teach individuals how to be like God.

Our Identity and Our Destiny by Elder Tad R. Callister:

“The second resource to assist us in our pursuit of godhood is the gifts of the Spirit. What are the gifts of the Spirit? We know them as love, patience, knowledge, testimony, and so on.28 In essence, each gift of the Spirit represents an attribute of godliness. Accordingly, each time we acquire a gift of the Spirit, we acquire a potential attribute of godliness. In this regard Orson Pratt taught:

One object [of the Church] is declared to be “For the perfecting of the Saints.” . . . The . . . plan . . . for the accomplishment of this great object, is through the medium of the spiritual gifts. When the supernatural gifts of the Spirit cease, the Saints cease to be perfected,therefore they can have no hopes of obtaining a perfect salvation. . . .

. . . In every nation and age, where believers exist, there the gifts must exist to perfect them.29

No wonder the Lord commands us to “covet earnestly the best gifts” (1 Corinthians 12:31); “seek ye earnestly the best gifts” (D&C 46:8); and to “lay hold upon every good gift” (Moroni 10:30).

In offering us spiritual gifts, the Lord counsels, “Seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given” (D&C 46:8).

One reason we remember these gifts and why we need to receive them is to keep from being deceived. When faced with Satan’s counterfeits, we can recognize them for what they are (see D&C 46:7–8).

Another reason to remember our spiritual gifts is so we can nourish one another. “To every man [and woman] is given a gift by the Spirit of God … , that all may be profited thereby” (D&C 46:11–12).

Gift- from the greek word charisma-5 explications in Strong’s concordance—first one:

1a favour with which one receives without any merit of his own

Read from Approaching Zion starting on page 89

Mosiah 2:21-24

Moses 1:9-10

9 And the presence of God withdrew from Moses, that his glory was not upon Moses; and Moses was left unto himself. And as he was left unto himself, he fell unto the earth.

10 And it came to pass that it was for the space of many hours before Moses did again receive his natural strength like unto man; and he said unto himself: Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed.

Everything is a spiritual gift—D&C 29:34 Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created.

 

I give unto you weakness—Our weakness is a spiritual gift

Read from C. Jeffery Belliston’s talk & Marvin J Ashton’s talk

Next two:

2 the gift of divine grace

4the economy of divine grace, by which the pardon of sin and eternal salvation is appointed to sinners in consideration of the merits of Christ laid hold of by faith—the atonement of Jesus Christ is the most divine, holy and valuable gift of the Spirit.  2 Corinthians 9:15 “Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift” which is His own son “for God so loved the world that he gave His own begotten son”.  God is the first giver—he gave His son and Jesus Christ is the second giver—He gave himself and for all true Christians giving is our grateful response to that gift.

13 To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.

14 To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful.

1 Corinthians 12:31-14:1

But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts,

Last two entries under definition of charisma:

3 the gift of faith, knowledge, holiness, virtue

5 grace or gifts denoting extraordinary powers, distinguishing certain Christians and enabling them to serve the church of Christ, the reception of which is due to the power of divine grace operating on their souls by the Holy Spirit

According to chapters 12-14 of 1 Cor. a spiritual gift is some capability given through the Holy Spirit that enables one to minister to the needs of Christ’s body, the church.  The greek word used here stresses that it is a gift of grace.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie observed that “spiritual gifts are endless in number and infinite in variety. Those listed in the revealed word are simply illustrations of the boundless outpouring of divine grace that a gracious God gives those who love and serve him” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [1985], 371).

Three situations in which the scriptures about gifts of the spirit are given:

Section 46 is a warning to the early Saints to beware of people with false gifts.  In this section the Lord describes how the Holy Ghost works and describes the kinds of gifts the Holy Ghost gives.  In 1 Corinthians Paul is losing ground as he sees the great Apostasy coming.  He tells the Saints of Corinthia that when spiritual gifts disappear that you know that you are in a state of apostasy.  In Moroni’s discourse, he has already experienced full-blown apostasy and chooses to end his discourse talking about spiritual gifts.

Verses 15-16,23  Administrations—greek word is diakonia—which means:

Definition

1service, ministering, esp. of those who execute the commands of others

2of those who by the command of God proclaim and promote religion among men

aof the office of Moses

bof the office of the apostles and its administration

cof the office of prophets, evangelists, elders etc.

3the ministration of those who render to others the offices of Christian affection esp. those who help meet need by either collecting or distributing of charities

Operation—greek—Energema— Definition

1thing wrought

2effect operation

The act or process of operating; agency; the exertion of power, physical, mechanical or moral.  Action; effect.

One of the gifts of the Spirit that helps us recognize truth is the gift of the “diversities of operations.” This gift helps us determine whether an influence comes from God or from some other source The gift of diversities of operations enables us to receive promptings from the Holy Ghost that help us recognize when someone is influenced by the Spirit of God. It also gives us the ability to recognize false interpretations of scripture and to avoid influences that would deceive or entice us away from true principles.—refer back to D&C 46:7

Elder Boyd K. Packer, now President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said: “We need women … who can view the trends in the world and detect those that, however popular, are shallow or dangerous. We need women who can discern those positions that may not be popular at all, but are right” (“The Relief Society,” Ensign, Nov. 1978, 8).

Gift of Discernment—Read from Elder Bender’s talk

Verses  17-18 Wisdom and knowledge

wisdom—sophia—wisdom, broad and full of intelligence;—a right application of knowledge; the ability or result of an ability to think and act utilizing knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight”

7the knowledge and practice of the requisites for godly and upright living

bsupreme intelligence, such as belongs to God

1to Christ

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, [and] easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.— James 3:17

In Eastern Orthodoxy humility is the highest wisdom and is to be sought more than any other virtue. Not only does humility cultivate the Holy Wisdom, but it (in contrast to knowledge) is the defining quality that grants people salvation and entrance into Heaven.

The gift of wisdom comes to those who seek it with humility. “Let him that is ignorant learn wisdom by humbling himself and calling upon the Lord his God … ;

“For my Spirit is sent forth into the world to enlighten the humble and contrite” (D&C 136:32–33).

As a young boy, the Savior “grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40).

Obedience Is the Beginning of Wisdom

Wisdom consists of knowing our Heavenly Father’s commandments and living them. Knowing this, Alma counseled his son Helaman to obtain wisdom: “O, remember, my son, and learn wisdom in thy youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God” (Alma 37:35). Gaining wisdom in all things is a lifelong process.

As we continually strive to obey the commandments given to us, we are promised that we will increase in wisdom “line upon line, precept upon precept, … for unto him that receiveth I will give more” (2 Ne. 28:30).

President Monson’s counsel to daily read the Book of Mormon

Knowledge—gnosis: It is often used for personal knowledge compared with intellectual knowledge the knowledge of spiritual mysteries.  What it takes to be saved.  knowledge or insight into man’s real nature as Divine, leading to the deliverance of the Divine spark within man

knowledge signifies in general intelligence, understanding

athe general knowledge of Christian religion

bthe deeper more perfect and enlarged knowledge of this religion, such as belongs to the more advanced

cesp. of things lawful and unlawful for Christians

dmoral wisdom, such as is seen in right living

Like all gifts of the Spirit, the gift of the word of knowledge is conveyed as well as received by the power of the Holy Ghost. Moroni taught, “By the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moro. 10:5).

The Lord has promised that those who ask shall receive “revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, … that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal” (D&C 42:61).

“seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118; emphasis added).

The Lord also expects us to “study and learn, and become acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people” (D&C 90:15; see also D&C 88:77-79). The gift of the word of knowledge given by the Holy Ghost can help us in these studies.

How have you experienced the gift of knowledge?

D&C 46:19-20  Faith to heal and be healed—Luke 8:45-48 Woman with issue of blood

“he that hath faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed” (D&C 42:48).

Some of the greatest healing miracles take place in hearts as Saints live with, and learn from, their infirmities. For example, President Spencer W. Kimball dealt nobly and patiently with affliction. While he served as an Apostle, most of his vocal cords were removed because of cancer. Yet for many years afterward, he served as a spokesman and prophet for the Lord, lifting his voice in testimony heard around the world.

“If our faith is anchored securely in our testimonies of Christ,” said Elder Ballard, “we will be able to cope with whatever adversity comes our way, and we will be able to do so in a positive, faith-promoting manner. If we keep the eye of faith focused on Christ, we gain a broader view and an eternal perspective, and with that we can understand adversity from within the context of Heavenly Father’s eternal plan for all of His children. And we can find comfort in this life in the safety, peace, joy and security that He promises” (“‘When Shall These Things Be?’” Ensign, Dec. 1996, 61).

President Gordon B. Hinckley tells the story of Ellen Pucell, whose parents were baptized in England in 1837. After saving for 19 years to finance their journey to America, they became members of the Martin Handcart Company. Ellen was nine years old at the time; her sister, Maggie, was 14. Unforeseen delays prevented the handcart company from reaching the Salt Lake Valley before severe winter weather descended on them. Low on food, the company pushed on until exhaustion and cold began to take their toll.

“Between 135 and 150 of the Martin company alone perished along that trail of suffering and death,” said President Hinckley. Among them were Maggie and Ellen’s parents. “It was in these desperate and terrible circumstances—hungry, exhausted, their clothes thin and ragged—that [the survivors] were found by the rescue party. …

“The two orphan girls, Maggie and Ellen, were among those with frozen limbs. Ellen’s were the most serious. The doctor in the valley, doing the best he could, amputated her legs just below the knees. The surgical tools were crude. There was no anesthesia. The stumps never [completely] healed. She grew to womanhood, married William Unthank, and bore and reared an honorable family of six children. Moving about on those stumps, she served her family, her neighbors, and the Church with faith and good cheer, and without complaint, though she was never without pain. Her posterity are numerous, and among them are educated and capable men and women who love the Lord whom she loved and who love the cause for which she suffered” (Ensign, Nov. 1991, 54).

Latter-day Saints throughout the world today give thanks for noble pioneers like these who left us priceless examples of faith in Jesus Christ and endurance in living his gospel.

•How may we obtain peace and acceptance of the Lord’s will for us in our adversities?

•How have you been strengthened by the faithful endurance of others?

Verse 21—Working of miracles—How is this gift different from the gift of healing?

Verse 22: The gift of Prophecy—President Harold B. Lee described this gift as “the gift by which [we] may have God revealed” (Stand Ye in Holy Places [1974], 155). With it, living prophets can reveal God’s will for his children—and we may receive inspiration for ourselves.

Would God,” he cried, “that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!” (Num. 11:29.) According to John, “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10). Through this wonderful gift we can know that the Savior lives and that he loves us.

•In what many ways does God reveal his will to us?

•How does the spirit of prophecy help us live according to God’s will?

Verses 24-25 Gift of Tongues:

According to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the purpose of the gift of tongues is to preach the gospel “among those whose language is not understood” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 148–49).

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve explained: “In their more dramatic manifestations [the gift of tongues and their interpretation] consist in speaking or interpreting, by the power of the Spirit, a tongue which is completely unknown to the speaker or interpreter.” More frequently, “these gifts are manifest where the ordinary languages of the day are concerned in that the Lord’s missionaries learn to speak and interpret foreign languages with ease, thus furthering the spread of the message of the restoration” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 800).

Learning to speak or understand another language is the primary way the gift of tongues is manifested. A related gift is the ability to speak by the power of the Holy Ghost. Nephi wrote, “Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost.” In this sense, those who speak by the power of the Spirit “speak with the tongue of angels” (2 Ne. 32:2–3).

Elder Carlos E. Asay, emeritus member of the Seventy, shares an experience he had as a missionary with this gift. He and his companion visited a branch torn by divisions and apostasy, and his companion was asked to speak at the meeting held to deal with the conflicts. After fasting and praying, his companion “stood with confidence and worked the miracle. He spoke with the tongue of an angel. That young, inexperienced elder’s words healed wounds festering in the hearts of men much older than he, prompted confessions, and literally saved a branch of the Church” (“The Companionship of the Holy Ghost,” Ensign, Apr. 1988, 17).

The Seduction of Our gifts:

Elder Oaks warned against the temptation to misuse spiritual gifts:

Satan will also attempt to cause our spiritual downfall through tempting us to misapply our spiritual gifts. The revelations tell us that ‘there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. . . . All these gifts come from God, for the benefit of the children of God’ (D&C 46:11, 26). Most of us have seen persons whom the adversary has led astray through a corruption of their spiritual gifts. A spiritual gift is given to benefit the children of God, not to magnify the prominence or to gratify the ego of the person who receives it. [A] professional healer who forgot that lesson gradually lost the companionship of the Spirit and was eventually excommunicated from the Church.[34]

Story of Mica’s sister-in-law

We can be like the Savior in giving spiritual gifts to others.  What gifts of the spirit can we give to others?  For example, the gift of compassion.

C. Jeffrey Bellistong:

“So what do I mean by gospel gifts? As the Bible Dictionary in the LDS edition of the scriptures tells us, “The word gospel means good news. The good news is that Jesus Christ has made a perfect atonement for mankind” (s.v. “gospels,” 682). While preparing this talk, I read the following verse during my regular scripture study:

Behold, my soul delighteth in proving unto my people the truth of the coming of Christ; for, for this end hath the law of Moses been given; and all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of him.[2 Nephi 11:4]

The phrase gospel gifts came to me weeks before I read this passage, but only upon reading it did I understand more fully. Gospel gifts are gifts that point us to or typify Jesus Christ.” (C. jeffrey Belliston “Gospel Gifts)

“From the Book of Mormon, particularly 3 Nephi, chapters 11 through 26 [3 Ne. 11–26], when the Savior Jesus Christ showed himself to the people on the American continent, many gifts are referred to as being very real and most useful. Taken at random, let me mention a few gifts that are not always evident or noteworthy but that are very important. Among these may be your gifts—gifts not so evident but nevertheless real and valuable.

Let us review some of these less-conspicuous gifts: the gift of asking; the gift of listening; the gift of hearing and using a still, small voice; the gift of being able to weep; the gift of avoiding contention; the gift of being agreeable; the gift of avoiding vain repetition; the gift of seeking that which is righteous; the gift of not passing judgment; the gift of looking to God for guidance; the gift of being a disciple; the gift of caring for others; the gift of being able to ponder; the gift of offering prayer; the gift of bearing a mighty testimony; and the gift of receiving the Holy Ghost.

We must remember that to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. It is our right and responsibility to accept our gifts and to share them. God’s gifts and powers are available to all of us….

Elder Marvin J Ashton:

4. The Gift to Calm

What a majestic gift it is to be able to calm others! We thank God for those who are calm instead of contentious.

“For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another” (3 Ne. 11:29).

Contention is a tool of the adversary. Peace is a tool of our Savior. What a wonderful tribute we pay people when we describe them as being gentle, firm, and calm!

Contention stops progress. Love brings eternal progression.

Where contention prevails, there can be no united effort in any purposeful direction.

“Cease to contend one with another; cease to speak evil one of another” (D&C 136:23).

Argument and debate must be supplanted by calm discussion, study, listening, and negotiation.

The gospel is one of harmony, unity, and agreement. It must be presented in love, and with glad tidings, by those who are calm.

We should learn to talk together, listen together, pray together, decide together, and avoid all forms of possible contention. We must learn to curb anger. Satan knows that when contention begins, orderly progress is thwarted.

There has never been a time when it is more important for us as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to take a stand, remain firm in our convictions, and conduct ourselves with calm assurance under all circumstances. We must not be manipulated or enraged by those who subtly foster contention over issues of the day.

“Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away” (3 Ne. 11:30).

“Ye should live in peace one with another” (Mosiah 2:20). Those with the gift of being calm make lasting peace possible.  (Marvin J Ashton “There Are Many Gifts”)

Elder Bednar’s talk:

Much “like faith precedes the miracle, much like baptism by water comes before the baptism by fire, much like gospel milk should be digested before gospel meat, much like clean hands can lead to a pure heart, and much like the ordinances of the Aaronic Priesthood are necessary before a person can receive the higher ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood, so being quick to observe is a prerequisite to and a preparation for the gift of discernment. We can only hope to obtain that supernal gift of discernment and its light of protection and direction if we are quick to observe—if we both look and obey.

President George Q. Cannon, who served as a counselor to four presidents of the Church, taught powerfully about the gift of discernment:

One of the gifts of the Gospel which the Lord has promised to those who enter into covenant with Him is the gift of discerning of spirits—a gift which is not much thought of by many and probably seldom prayed for; yet it is a gift that is of exceeding value and one that should be enjoyed by every Latter-day Saint. . . .

Now, the gift of discerning of spirits not only gives men and women who have it the power to discern the spirit with which others may be possessed or influenced, but it gives them the power to discern the spirit which influences themselves. They are able to detect a false spirit and also to know when the Spirit of God reigns within them. In private life this gift is of great importance to the Latter-day Saints. Possessing and exercising this gift they will not allow any evil influence to enter into their hearts or to prompt them in their thoughts, their words or their acts. They will repel it; and if perchance such a spirit should get possession of them, as soon as they witness its effects they will expel it or, in other words, refuse to be led or prompted by it. [Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon, comp. Jerreld L. Newquist (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974), 1:198–99]

Can we recognize how crucial this spiritual gift is in our lives today and how being quick to observe is a powerful invitation for the blessings of discernment?

President Stephen L Richards, who served as a counselor to President David O. McKay, has provided additional instruction about the nature and blessings of discernment:

First, I mention the gift of discernment, embodying the power to discriminate . . . between right and wrong. I believe that this gift when highly developed arises largely out of an acute sensitivity to impressions—spiritual impressions, if you will—to read under the surface as it were, to detect hidden evil, and more importantly to find the good that may be concealed. The highest type of discernment is that which perceives in others and uncovers for them their better natures, the good inherent within them. . . .

. . . Every member in the restored Church of Christ could have this gift if he willed to do so. He could not be deceived with the sophistries of the world. He could not be led astray by pseudo-prophets and subversive cults. Even the inexperienced would recognize false teachings, in a measure at least. . . . We ought to be grateful every day of our lives for this sense which keeps alive a conscience which constantly alerts us to the dangers inherent in wrongdoers and sin. [CR, April 1950, 162–63; emphasis added]

As we integrate the teachings of Presidents Cannon and Richards, we learn that the gift of discernment operates basically in four major ways.

First, as we “read under the surface,” discernment helps us detect hidden error and evil in others.

Second, and more important, it helps us detect hidden errors and evil in ourselves. Thus the spiritual gift of discernment is not exclusively about discerning other people and situations, but, as President Cannon taught, it is also about discerning things as they really are within us.

Third, it helps us find and bring forth the good that may be concealed in others.

And fourth, it helps us find and bring forth the good that may be concealed in us. Oh, what a blessing and a source of protection and direction is the spiritual gift of discernment!

The teachings of Presidents Cannon and Richards concerning the power of discernment to detect hidden evil and to identify good that may be concealed become even more important to you and to me in light of a specific element of Lehi’s vision. In the vision various groups of individuals were pressing forward that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree of life (see 1 Nephi 8:21). The strait and narrow path came along by the rod of iron, even to the tree (see 1 Nephi 8:20). The mists of darkness described in the vision represent the temptations of the devil which blind the eyes of the children of men and lead them into broad roads so that they are lost (see 1 Nephi 12:17). Now please pay particular attention to verse 23 in 1 Nephi 8, and let us liken this scripture to our day and the challenges we face in an increasingly wicked world:

And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost. [1 Nephi 8:23]

I repeat again for emphasis the truth that discernment is a light of protection and direction in a world that grows increasingly dark. In these latter days you and I can press forward safely and successfully through the mist of darkness and have a clear sense of spiritual direction. Discernment is so much more than recognizing right from wrong. It helps us to distinguish the relevant from the irrelevant, the important from the unimportant, and the necessary from that which is merely nice.

The gift of discernment opens to us vistas that stretch far beyond what can be seen with natural eyes or heard with natural ears. Discerning is seeing with spiritual eyes and feeling with the heart—seeing and feeling the falsehood of an idea or the goodness in another person. Discerning is hearing with spiritual ears and feeling with the heart—hearing and feeling the unspoken concern in a statement or the truthfulness of a testimony or doctrine.

I frequently have heard President Boyd K. Packer counsel members and priesthood leaders: “If all you know is what you see with your natural eyes and hear with your natural ears, then you will not know very much.” His observation should help all of us to appropriately desire and seek these spiritual gifts.

Observing and discerning also enable us to assist others who are seeking to obtain the path and who desire to press forward with steadfastness in Christ. Blessed with these spiritual gifts, we will not lose our way; we will not wander off; we will not be lost. And we can only hope to obtain the supernal gift of discernment and its light of protection and direction if we are quick to observe. As Alma taught his son Helaman, “See that ye take care of these sacred things, yea, see that ye look to God and live” (Alma 37:47).

I declare my special witness that Jesus is the Christ, our Redeemer and our Savior. I know that He lives. I invoke His blessing upon each of you—that indeed you may desire to be and become quick to observe and truly discerning. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen. “( “Quick to Observe” by Elder David A Bednar, BYU Speeches May 10, 2005)

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