Obedience, what a wonderful thing. As a young man I never understood the importance of Obedience. I didn't know why we should keep the rules, or why the rules were even there. As I've gotten older I have experienced both the benefits of keeping the rules and also what happens when we don't follow the rules... I am a fan of the first. It has been interesting to me to see how the more we come to know God in our lives the more we want to keep the commandments. President Boyd K. Packer says, "True doctrine understood changes attitudes and behavior." This statement needs no more support than my own life to verify its validity. While growing up I didn't understand true doctrine. I did as I pleased and sought after whatever would quickly make me happy. I bounced from addiction to addiction to fill my time and to keep my mind distracted from the weightier matters of life. From Donkey Kong to Paintball to working out and World of Warcraft, I was a professional time waster. Like all worldly courses, this led to a crash. Happiness cannot be sustained without the knowledge and support of deity. Deity was definitely not a high priority in my life although I thought it was at the time. I said my prayers, occasionally read my scriptures and always attended church. I had even passed through the temple on occasion. Although I was what appeared to be "active" in church I was definitely only there physically. My mind however did catch the occasional life lesson from the many church experiences that I had. Over time I felt like I knew what I was supposed to be doing but I did everything I possibly could to distract myself from it. Life continued on but I soon found that the pain of sin and spiritual neglect could no longer be clouded by distraction. A void was created in my life and it became apparent to me that something was missing. In the back of my head I knew what was missing but by that point in time I had become so entangled in distractions and sin that there appeared to be no way out. What was I to do? Fortunately for me, I was born to goodly parents. My parents and others helped to steer me in the right direction only after I had experienced what many others have gone through. In Alma 62:41 it says, "many were softened because of their afflictions, insomuch that they did humble themselves before God, even in the depth of humility." If there is one thing that we can count on in this life it is that one way or another, we will be compelled to be humble. Whether we compel ourselves to be humble or God compels us to be humble is up to us. Take my advice and humble yourself, it's much prettier that way. As soon as I began to understand true doctrine my attitude and behavior changed. I am a completely different person now that I have decided to follow God.
This leads me to the subject question. Why do we do it? Why do we follow God and keep His commandments. Why is it that understanding true doctrine changes our attitudes and behavior? This morning as I was studying I was impressed by a very powerful thought. It was something that makes complete sense but has never before been unfolded to my view. Often times we think that we should be obedient because obedience leads to happiness. This is true, it does lead to happiness. There are, however, different levels of motivation for obedience. At the bottom we have those who are obedient because they are afraid of the consequences of disobedience. It is good to be obedient but this is not what should be the driving force behind it. The next level of obedience is being obedient because we want the reward. If we are obedient and follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ we will get to the Celestial Kingdom. As I was pondering on this principle I was thinking about my motivations for living the Gospel. I'm afraid of the consequences of sin but that is not what motivates me. I have always just wanted to be happy and to return to live with God and that is what has motivated me. The more I thought about this the more I realized that I had good motives but they werent the best. Being obedient because I was seeking after a reward will only get me so far. As I was pondering, a verse in John came to mind. John 14:15 states, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." As I thought about it more I read an interesting phrase in Preach My Gospel under the Faith section that says we show our love for God by avoiding sin. At that moment it all made sense. The idea of being obedient out of love is something I've studied before but never have I applied it to my own personal progression. If I am to return to the presence of my Heavenly Father it will not be because I want that reward. I can only return to live with Him if I love Him enough to align my will with His. His glory and happiness comes from His children making it back to Him. If we are to truly make it back, we will do it because we love God and want Him to be happy and to be glorified. I look to the Savior for our perfect example and say with Him, "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."