Do Good and Love God, Part 2

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Those things that are best in our lives are the things that lead us to do good, love God, and serve Him. This does not mean that we have no time for things that might simply be good, but we do not have time to do every good thing; we need to prioritize and put the best first, as Elder Oaks said. There are many good works of art – books, music, paintings, sculptures, and so forth – that are worthwhile to read and listen to and view. There are many good activities but if they do not lead us to do good continually by serving God and loving Him, they are not directly inspired by God. Should we avoid doing and partaking of these things? No, but we should be wise consumers. “O be wise. What can I say more?” as the great teacher Jacob stated (Jacob 6:12).

Quoting Elder Oaks again: “Consider how we use our time in the choices we make in viewing television, playing video games, surfing the Internet, or reading books or magazines. Of course it is good to view wholesome entertainment or to obtain interesting information. But not everything of that sort is worth the portion of our life we give to obtain it. Some things are better, and others are best. When the Lord told us to seek learning, He said, ‘Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom’ (D&C; 88:118; emphasis added)” (Source).

One thing I think is important about goodness being somewhat independent of the direct inspiration of God (i.e., not all that is merely good is directly inspired by God), is that it supports the notion of the innate goodness of humankind. I believe that people are inherently good. Whenever I look at a baby, I see that goodness and innocence. There is no sin or depravity. God created man – Adam and Eve – and saw that they were good. Adam and Eve made a brave choice in choosing to enter the mortal and dark and dreary world; they transgressed but they repented of that transgression and the Savior’s Atonement freed all humankind from the blame of that transgression. As Joseph Smith wrote in the Wentworth Letter, “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression” (Articles of Faith 2).

Mankind is in a fallen state but we are not fallen creatures. We all have a spark of divinity within us. Further, all humans are given the light of Christ to provide guidance. We all know, even if it is only deep down, what is right and wrong, in part because we’ve been given this light to guide us. It isn’t until we willfully rebel against the light and force it out of our lives through sin and other wrong choices, that we become evil and depraved – not before. We are not born blind because of any sins of our parents, we blind ourselves by our disobedience (see John 9:2-3).

Link to part 1 of this essay.

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