A little while ago I was asked to speak in church on personal righteousness. As excited as I was to speak, (I know I know, I'm one of the few, I always am ha ha) it was a hard topic for me to grasp. I thought I would share my thoughts on personal righteousness for those of you contemplating the topic yourselves or for maybe those of you who never have. No matter your religion, everyone has their own personal righteousness :)
By Sheena LaRose
While searching for personal righteousness online I couldn't find much. Possibly because it took me at least a good half an hour of searching before I figured out how to spell righteousness.
With not much luck in my search, I asked Kyle what he thought the definition of personal righteousness was. He replied with, "it's p e r s o n a l righteousness sheena , it's what You think it is". Not quite the reply I was hoping for, but true nonetheless. It wouldn't be very personal if someone told me what my personal righteousness was.
As beautiful as the words and the meaning behind it, (personal meaning: belonging to a particular person rather than to anyone else. And Righteousness: adhering to moral principles
However, when I hear it I cant help but think of the context i most often hear it used in such as, "that person is so self righteous!" This was somewhat of a struggle for me because I had to get passed the negativity that I always hear going along with it.
Personal means that what may be your morals, might not be another's. That doesn't make you wrong, you have just been given a different plan. My sweet neighbor Carrie Peterson described it somewhat like a rubber band. Most rubber bands look the same but each individual are going to stretch and manipulate them differently. While you might have a certain stance on a matter, another might not have the same testimony of it. We progress at different speeds and while we most definitely cross paths, we don't always come across the same stumbling blocks.
For example, one might personally feel it okay to exercise without garments, while the other might feel that we need to only look for excuses TO wear them, rather than not to. At then end of the day as long as you are obeying the covenants and you personally feel good about the choices you've made, that is what matters. As long as you are making sure to be still and hear the confirmations of the holy spirt that you are indeed choosing the right.
It is never our place to make judgement on anothers personal righteousness. Because it is just that, Personal.
For all those Ensign horders out there, ' (Ensign, Jan. 1979, p. 61.)"
"The gift of the Holy Ghost is conferred on both men and women. So are spiritual gifts. As Elder Bruce R. McConkie declared in Nauvoo at the dedication of the Monument to Women: 'Where spiritual things are concerned, as pertaining to all of the gifts of the Spirit, with reference to the receipt of revelation, the gaining of testimonies, and the seeing of visions, in all matters that pertain to godliness and holiness and which are brought to pass as a result of personal righteousness -- in all these things men and women stand in a position of absolute equality before the Lord. He is no respector of persons nor of sexes, and he blesses those men and those women who seek him and serve him and keep his commandments.
Let us not focus on the personal choice of morals of others. Rather let us work diligently on our own. What type of person do you want to be? What are your morals? Ultimately we all have he same goal of being righteous just like our heavenly father. There are many people striving for this. All at different paces and different paths. But ultimately our destination is the same. The commandments are the same. Let us support one another in that goal and instead of looking down on those who's decisions we can't quite understand, but to look up. Look to our heavenly father for understanding and knowledge to either being open and considerate to others views, educate, or simply be an example. Not only did I have to research what personal righteousness meant, I needed to search within myself to find what exactly my own personal righteousness meant.
I know that for me my path to find personal righteousness Started somewhat later in life. As a young woman who craved a relationship with God I found myself desperate. I had no religious upbringing, just a somewhat spiritual one. It wasn't until I was 20 that I finally accepted the first piece of moral compass from my Heavenly Father. It was in the form of someone you might know, my husband Kyle. Living in the state of Utah you might find this hard to believe but he was the first person to ever offer me missionary discussions. From that point on I finally knew what direction to turn. All of a sudden I had a multitude of pieces of that compass flying at me in all directions in forms of a new found gospel, a modern day prophet, a blanket for comfort, a patriarchal blessing, just to name a few. I finally had all of the tools I needed to develop personal righteousness. At this point I can't help but reflect on the long lonely path behind me and smile at the distance. I'm sure some of you can relate when I say it's been a long road.
In 3 Nephi chapter 22 verse 14 it says:
"In righteousness shalt thou be established."
Straight to the point right?
In ELDER ROBERT D. HALES talk he gave at conference this last April titled Coming To Ourselves he said:
Beloved brothers and sisters, the young man spoken about by the Savior, the one we refer to as the prodigal son, did come home. His father had not forgotten him; his father was waiting. And “when [the son] was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and … kissed him.” In honor of his son’s return, he called for a robe, a ring, and a celebration with a fatted calf. These are reminders that no blessings will be withheld if we faithfully endure in walking the path back to our Heavenly Father.
We become converted and spiritually self-reliant as we prayerfully live our covenants.
A few ways we can work on our personal righteousness are
1. Reading our scriptures, seeking counsel of our prophet, and listening to the spirit to find out how we truly feel on a matter
Bishop Smith once counseled me on a different meaning for the acronym GPS- instead of using it as global positioning system, think of it standing for Gospel>Prophet>Spirit
Whatever the matter, Search the scriptures, what does the prophet say about this?, and how does it make you feel? Those three things will always reaffirm each other and you will know exactly where you stand.
2. Partaking of the Sacrament, to remember the covenants we we have made and to be forgiven of our sins to start with a clean slate. Try preparing yourself just as you would for the temple. Ridding yourself of worldly things to make room for the Holy Ghost.
3. Attending the Temple
In Psalms 24:3-4 it says
"Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in his holy place?
He that hath clean hands and a pure heart"
The temple is a wonderful place to strengthen your personal righteousness. What better a feeling to be able to walk in the house of the lord and know you are worthy.
4. Personal Revelations- sometimes it takes a smack upside the head to really make something stick. When times are tough, it's a remarkable relief to have confirmation from your Heavenly Father letting you know that it's ok, you are doing great, you are on the right path. Sometimes I find myself relying too heavily on personal revelations to keep me going. It is those times I need to blow the dust off my compass.
Your personal righteousness is ever changing as you grow and gain a greater testimony. Our Heavenly Father is more merciful and patient than we can understand. So brothers and Sisters please grant yourself the same kindness. It is a long road to Zion but with faith in our Father in Heaven it is very much obtainable. imagine how much easier it might be if we have that same kind of compassion faith in each other.
I have a testimony of my Heavenly Father that he has been there to guide me along my path of righteousness with the help of my lord and savior Jesus Christ and The Holy Ghost. The most difficult part was allowing them to. I testify that we have an amazing ward. Full of potential at its highest. Full of a love for thy neighbor and service that inspires me each day. They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, Aren't we all still children of our Heavenly Father.
I testify that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and he restored the Gospel. I have such a love for him and his knowledge to simply ask and then receive.
I am grateful for personal revelations and our leaders that acton them.
I am grateful for my family and their never ending support. My children and their sweet spirits and my husband that has held my hand on this path every step of the way.
Last but not least, I am thankful for my Heavenly Father who gave me this plan and who loved me so much he gave me the tools to return home to his loving arms.
I say these things in the name of thy son, Jesus Christ, Amen.