Howard W. Hunter Chapter 19: Our Commitment to God
This was an odd one for me to read through because I feel like the group of people who stay at church all the way through Relief Society to get this lesson are the kind of people who are showing, by just that act, that they are committed to God. Taking time to acknowledge that everyone is already demonstrating commitment and succeeding can help dissuade guilt that lessons like this can pile on. High fives for everyone!
Early on in the lesson, President Hunter states,
Ultimately, what our (Parents) in Heaven will require of us is more than a contribution; it is a total commitment, a complete devotion, all that we are and all that we can be.
Please understand that I do not speak only of a commitment to the Church and its activities, although that always needs to be strengthened. No, I speak more specifically of a commitment that is shown in our individual behavior, in our personal integrity, in our loyalty to home and family and community, as well as to the Church.
What does “complete devotion” look like? Take time to think about someone you know who shows “complete devotion” to God in their life. As a teacher, I might ask some people to share their thoughts after thinking about that, or I might ask a few people ahead of time to share about someone they know or have admired for their devotion to God.
With these multiple personal examples shared, it’s easy to see that “complete devotion” looks different from person to person as President Hunter implies with it being “shown in our individual behavior.”
The lesson shares a couple of scripture stories as examples of prophets showing devotion to God. I personally steer clear of the very problematic Abraham and Isaac story. However, it did not take long for me to think of a great example of a prophetess showing devotion to God. From Luke 2:36-38:
36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;
37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
President Hunter answers the question, “What does complete devotion look like?” with this:
The ability to stand by one’s principles, to live with integrity and faith according to one’s belief—that is what matters, that is the difference between a contribution and a commitment. That devotion to true principle—in our individual lives, in our homes and families, and in all places that we meet and influence other people—that devotion is what God is ultimately requesting of us.
When I volunteered for this lesson plan, my first thought was the scripture, “Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?” with the answer “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Commitment to the people around us is commitment to God.
At the end of the lesson, President Howard talks about being “Living Members.”
We know that this is the true and living church institutionally, but am I a true and living member individually?
… When I ask, “Am I a true and living member?” my question is, am I deeply and fully dedicated to keeping the covenants I have made with the Lord? Am I totally committed to live the gospel and be a doer of the word and not a hearer only? Do I live my religion? Will I remain true? Do I stand firm against Satan’s temptations? …
To answer affirmatively the question, “Am I a living member?” confirms our commitment. It means that we now and always will love God and our neighbors as ourselves. It means our actions will reflect who we are and what we believe. It means that we are every day Christians, walking as Christ would have us walk.
Since we’ve already established that we are committed to God. I would, instead of asking “Am I a living member?” ask, “How am I a living member?” I’ll list the “Living Members _______” statements from the lesson. As a teacher, I might read them aloud and have the class write down how they fulfill/demonstrate those statements in their lives.
- Living members are those who strive to have a total commitment.
- Living members recognize their duty to press forward.
- Living members give heed to the Spirit, which quickens the inner life.
- Living members put Christ first in their lives, knowing from what source their lives and progress come.
- Living members, once they are converted, fulfill the commandment to strengthen their brothers and sisters
- Living members recognize the need to put into action their beliefs.
- Living members love one another.
Look at your list of how you demonstrate that you are a living member. I’m not going to ask you to pick up the slack on any category where you might not have as many examples of, but instead, look at where you are succeeding and consider if you could magnify one of those, since you’ve already worked them into your life.