When our twin daughters were small, we decided to take them to the public pool and teach them how to swim. I remember starting with Rebekah. As I went down into the water with Rebekah, I thought, "I'm going to teach her how to swim." But as we went down into the water, in her mind was the thought, "My dad is going to drown me. I'm going to die!" The water was only three and a half feet deep, but Becky was only three feet deep. She was so petrified that she began to scream and cry and kick and scratch and was unteachable.My Sunday school teacher went on to read at least part of a talk by Bruce R. McConkie. I think it balanced the grace that I expressed.
Finally, I just had to grab her. I threw my arms around her, and I just held her, and I said, "Becky, I've got you. I'm your dad. I love you. I'm not going to let anything bad happen to you. Now relax." Bless her heart, she trusted me. She relaxed, and I put my arms under her and said, "Okay, now kick your legs." And we began to learn how to swim.
Spiritually there are some of us who are similarly petrified by the questions "Am I celestial? Am I going to make it? Was I good enough today?" We're so terrified of whether we're going to live or die, or whether we've made it to the kingdom or not, that we cannot make any progress. It's at those times when the Savior grabs us and throws his arms around us and says, "I've got you. I love you. I'm not going to let you die. Now relax and trust me." If we can relax and trust him and believe him, as well as believe in him, then together we can begin to learn to live the gospel. Then he puts his arms under us and says, "Okay, now pay tithing. Very good. Now pay a full tithing." And so we begin to make progress.
Now what does it mean to be valiant in the testimony of Jesus?"There is a calculus that occurs in my life whether I want it to or not. I eventually get what I want. The trick is to choose that which will bring lasting happiness instead of only immediate pleasure." 1, 2
It is to be courageous and bold; to use all our strength, energy, and ability in the warfare with the world; to fight the good fight of faith. “Be strong and of a good courage,” the Lord commanded Joshua, and then specified that this strength and courage consisted of meditating upon and observing to do all that is written in the law of the Lord. (See Josh. 1:6–9.) The great cornerstone of valiance in the cause of righteousness is obedience to the whole law of the whole gospel.
To be valiant in the testimony of Jesus is to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him”; it is to deny ourselves “of all ungodliness,” and “love God” with all our “might, mind and strength.” (Moro. 10:32.)
To be valiant in the testimony of Jesus is to believe in Christ and his gospel with unshakable conviction. It is to know of the verity and divinity of the Lord’s work on earth.
But this is not all. It is more than believing and knowing. We must be doers of the word and not hearers only. It is more than lip service; it is not simply confessing with the mouth the divine Sonship of the Savior. It is obedience and conformity and personal righteousness. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 7:21.)
To be valiant in the testimony of Jesus is to “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men.” It is to “endure to the end.” (2 Ne. 31:20.) It is to live our religion, to practice what we preach, to keep the commandments. It is the manifestation of “pure religion” in the lives of men; it is visiting “the fatherless and widows in their affliction” and keeping ourselves “unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27.)
To be valiant in the testimony of Jesus is to bridle our passions, control our appetites, and rise above carnal and evil things. It is to overcome the world as did he who is our prototype and who himself was the most valiant of all our Father’s children. It is to be morally clean, to pay our tithes and offerings, to honor the Sabbath day, to pray with full purpose of heart, to lay our all upon the altar if called upon to do so.
To be valiant in the testimony of Jesus is to take the Lord’s side on every issue. It is to vote as he would vote. It is to think what he thinks, to believe what he believes, to say what he would say and do what he would do in the same situation. It is to have the mind of Christ and be one with him as he is one with his Father.
Our doctrine is clear; its application sometimes seems to be more difficult. Perhaps some personal introspection might be helpful. For instance:
Am I valiant in the testimony of Jesus if my chief interest and concern in life is laying up in store the treasures of the earth, rather than the building up of the kingdom?
Am I valiant if I have more of this world’s goods than my just needs and wants require and I do not draw from my surplus to support missionary work, build temples, and care for the needy?
Am I valiant if my approach to the Church and its doctrines is intellectual only, if I am more concerned with having a religious dialogue on this or that point than I am on gaining a personal spiritual experience?
Am I valiant if I am deeply concerned about the Church’s stand on who can or who cannot receive the priesthood and think it is time for a new revelation on this doctrine?
Am I valiant if I use a boat, live in a country home, or engage in some other recreational pursuit on weekends that takes me away from my spiritual responsibilities?
Am I valiant if I engage in gambling, play cards, go to pornographic movies, shop on Sunday, wear immodest clothes, or do any of the things that are the accepted way of life among worldly people?
If we are to gain salvation, we must put first in our lives the things of God’s kingdom. With us it must be the kingdom of God or nothing. We have come out of darkness; ours is the marvelous light of Christ. We must walk in the light.
The grace of Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ enables me to keep moving, keep working. I am free from being overwhelmed by the perfect example I am striving to follow. It is miraculous in that I am forgiven of my sins. I do not have to be burdened by the effects of my sin and the sin of others. I am free to progress, to grow, to ultimately become like my Father is.
See also parable of the piano