I was reading from the scriptures this morning. The chapter that I read was a prophet-king named Benjamin, who was giving his final instructions to his people before turning over the kingdom to his son. Benjamin told his people again and again “Keep the commandments.” He didn’t just say that, actually, he would tell the people to keep the commandments, then follow it up with a promise.
Keep the commandments – be filled with joy.
Keep the commandments – prosper in the land.
Keep the commandments – be blessed immediately.
Keep the commandments – live in a blessed and happy state.
Keep the commandments – your enemies will have no power over you.
I have often felt that the recurring message of the scriptures is always to keep the commandments. Yes, the scriptures always tell us about the people who have come to know god and the people who have done miracles and the blessings of the Lord and His characteristics, but the key to all of those things is the commandments. The people who become prophets and therefore know the Lord the best are those who consistently keep the commandments.
Now I look at myself, and the world in which I live. When was the last time you saw a television character say “No, I can’t go to work on sunday, I keep the sabbath holy,” or “No, I will not commit adultery with you!”
And not exactly a character that we enjoy watching as viewers. I won’t go into if I think this is symptomatic or causal of our societies’ current condition, but I will say that it’s accurate to the world we know.
You can’t meet somebody who tries to keep the sabbath day holy or obey the law of chastity without thinking that this guy is a radical fundimentalist, or something equally judgemental.
Not so long ago I decided to start putting this promise of King Benjamin to the test. I would select a commandment that I didn’t feel I was obeying completely (we all have these, right?) and made a goal of really keeping it for the next week or two weeks. King Benjamin promised immediate blessings, so I figured I would see a difference.
The result is that, despite my doubts and perhaps even some reluctance, I felt my life changed. I was happy every day for the first time in my life. I wasn’t even being completely obedient, but I was making progress, and that in itself was enough to allow God to bless me. I don’t know what blessings I recieved exactly as I started this experiment, but I felt in some intangible way that I was being blessed by a higher power.
The rewards of my experimentation were enough to propel me into continuing to try. Every week my wife and I try to choose an area of spirituality or commandment keeping that we aren’t doing so well at and we work at it for as long as we feel we need to to make it habit. The changes that come in our lives as a result aren’t all physical, but are still real. Recently we began reading scriptures together every morning before work. It takes about 5 minutes to read a chapter out of the new testament together. Just this simple act has changed my every-day attitude. I’m full of energy and more happy as I go through the ho-hum events of the day.
In conclusion: I highly reccomend that anybody try this out. Try keeping the commandments for a while and see if it doesn’t start to change your life and lead you into a “Blessed and happy state.”