A compass can become an extremely important instrument in the hands of a traveler who is trying to find his way. However, the instrument in the traveler’s hands will only serve its role of directing if the person who is seeking direction will follow where the needle points him to go. If the traveler decides that he will not trust the guidance given to him by the instrument, then the instrument is rendered useless, and the traveler is left to his own vices to find his way.
And so it is in life. Each of us has within us a moral compass that is designed to guide and direct us in the way that we should go. If we choose to ignore its direction, we will find ourselves traveling down paths that often lead to destruction, misery and woe.
However, if we will heed the direction in which our moral compass directs us, we can obtain many blessings in our lives.
So, what is this moral compass? Simply, it is that which serves to guide our decisions based on morals and virtues. President Thomas S. Monson, during the Priesthood Session of the April 2008 General Conference, made the following remarks about having a clear conscience, following our moral compass, and always doing what we know to be right:
You know what is right and what is wrong, and no disguise, however appealing, can change that. The character of transgression remains the same. If your so-called friends urge you to do anything you know to be wrong, you be the one to make a stand for right, even if you stand alone. Have the moral courage to be a light for others to follow. There is no friendship more valuable than your own clear conscience, your own moral cleanliness -and what a glorious feeling it is to know that you stand in your appointed place clean and with the confidence that you are worthy to do so.
It is not always easy to follow such counsel. We live in a cruel world where our societies often reflect violence, hatred, and immorality. The Apostle Paul in his letter to young Timothy, in 2 Timothy 3:1-7, looked ahead to our day and described it this way:
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded , lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
We cannot cope with the challenges and confusions of this world unless we use a clear and consistent moral compass that will chart our path to self-worth, peace, and joy . This moral compass is built around four absolute truths.
The first absolute truth is that there is a loving Father in Heaven, and His Son, Jesus Christ, is our Savior, Lord, and Redeemer. This absolute truth is lovingly expressed in 1 John 3:16, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” There can be no truer north for our moral compasses than this absolute truth.
The second absolute truth is that there is an adversary – Satan, the thief, the tempter, the father of all lies. We are taught in John 10:10, “The thief [Satan] cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I [Christ] am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” Satan’s purpose is to destroy our moral compass and lead us away from God and His infinite peace. He uses various devices, both ancient and modem, to tempt us and confuse us with his cunning lies. One of his most spiritually damaging lies is when he attempts to convince us that we are hopeless and that our sins can never be forgiven, thus undermining our sense of self-worth. It is no wonder that the Hebrew translation for Satan is “the spoiler”, for he would confound our moral compass and spoil our journey back home to the arms of our loving Heavenly Father who awaits us.
Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.
Who we truly are is the sum of all the choices – good, bad, or indifferent – that we make, and we should remember that choices do not begin with the act itself, but in the mind with the idea. Someone once said, “Sow a thought, and you reap an act; sow an act, and you reap a habit; sow a habit, and you reap a character; sow a character, and you reap a destiny.” Given our free agency, we are therefore individually responsible for our ideas, actions, habits, character, and even our own destiny.
The fourth absolute truth is that temptation can be overcome through renewed faith in God and the process of repentance. Through this, our footing can be restored on the straight and narrow path, marked by our moral compass, and we can surely be lead to salvation and eternal life. In the Garden of Gethsemane when Christ prays for His Apostles as well as for each of us to the Father, He commands us to avoid evil, and at the same time in His infinite compassion, He asks the Father to keep us from evil. In John 17:15 we read, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.”
Life will bring to each us challenges, setbacks, heartaches, and disappointments from time to time. There will be bright sun shine days in our lives, as well as, dark, cloudy, stormy days. But take heart and be encouraged from these words of the Apostle Paul as recorded in 2 Corinthians 4 :6- 9,
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed , but not in despair; persecuted , but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.
Let us also be reminded that “the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25).
We can experience wisdom, peace, joy, and self-worth, not only in the life to come, but in this life also. We do this by following in the footsteps of the Master, guided by an
unfailing moral compass that has been calibrated to these four eternal and absolute truths.