The article below is from a message President Eaton left for missionaries following up on Elder Hamula's visit last month.
Since you’ll be discussing consecration today in your district meetings, I wanted to share a New Testament scripture chain with you this morning. Let’s start with Matthew 16:24 JST: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. And now for a man to take up his cross, is to deny himself all ungodliness, and every worldly lust, and keep my commandments.”
In other words, to follow the Savior, we have to leave behind the world. In Mark 4:19, the Savior explains how worldliness can mess with our spiritual growth. I’ve made a couple of changes to apply this verse more directly to us: “And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the [missionary], and [he] becometh unfruitful.” When we let “other things enter in” and become preoccupied with the vain things of this world, it chokes out the power of the gospel in our lives and we become less fruitful and less happy.
I love the word deceitfulness in this verse. Those who advertise soda pop promote it as a great way to quench your thirst, but have you ever noticed that you only get thirstier when you drink it? What this world has to offer is just like that. The world tells us that its riches and praise and pleasures will make us happy, but they don’t bring lasting happiness any more than pop quenches thirst. It’s a sham, a fraud. It’s deceitful—because when we give in to the things of the world, we cut ourselves off from the things of God that bring true happiness. So to follow Christ, we must deny ourselves of all ungodliness.
This is especially true for those of us who are called to represent Christ, to be what Paul called “a good solider of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3). In 2 Timothy 2:4 Paul taught: “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” If we are going to go to spiritual battle for Christ, we can’t afford to plaster our apartments with photos and trinkets from the world that distract us. We can’t fill our minds with lesser things or even things Christ has asked us to set aside for a season. To please Christ who called us, we must leave the world behind.
Finally, in Luke 14:27 JST, the Savior adds an interesting admonition to his invitation to bear our cross, come after him and be his disciple: “Wherefore, settle this in your hearts, that ye will do the things which I shall teach, and command you.” The word “settle” in this context means “to make a final decision.” For most of us, we have settled in our hearts that we won’t violate the Word of Wisdom. That decision is final. But are there some other aspects of worldliness that we are still struggling to make a permanent decision to leave behind?
Together, these scriptures teach me the importance of deciding, once and for all, to leave behind the things of this world and focus fully on my call. Imagine what it would feel like at the Judgment to see clearly just how glorious and desirable eternal life is, only to realize that we sold out for a cheap consolation prize this world had to offer. I pray that with eyes of faith, we can see clearly and settle in our hearts that we will choose the consecrated path that leads to eternal life rather than the selfish path that does not, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.