The Ensign (official LDS monthly magazine) has a regular column entitled “Questions and Answers”. Each month a different question is posed with answers supplied by LDS members. The February issue poses this question: “I often feel overwhelmed because I don’t feel I measure up to all that’s expected of me in living the gospel. How can I learn to rejoice in the gospel when I feel like I may never by able to become or do all the Lord requires of me?” This question is followed by the answers of eight different individuals. (To see the whole article, go to www.lds.org/ensign)
What struck me was how all the answers acknowledged the struggle but put the burden back on the person. The advice was to take it one step at a time; to keep priorities straight; obey the commandments; remember that the Lord is encouraging us, etc. Not once was the Lord’s forgiveness mentioned. I wonder how these answers give true lasting relief.
Here’s my answer.
I can understand why you feel you aren’t measuring up. You feel that way because you, or nobody else for that matter, can’t! Sin has so devastated us that no matter how focused we are or how much effort we exert, we will fail. Even the apostle Paul had to confess: “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” (Romans 7:19) Nothing is more sobering and overwhelming than taking a honest inventory of ourselves and seeing how often we don’t measure up to God’s commandments.
That is why God, in the Scriptures, tells us the wonderful news that Jesus has already done everything required – and he did all this, not just as our example, but mainly, as our substitute. “by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous”. (Romans 5:19)
Seeing that is the secret to joy. Seeing that God counts me as already perfect because Jesus was perfect for me instills a joy that is truly indescribable. The key to joy is not focusing on your efforts, but on Christ’s efforts and the fact that he has already done all that is required for you. That gives me joy each and every day. I pray that you can have that same joy.