One of the talks that I really liked this conference was about our worry about what others think of us regarding Christianity. I don’t even remember which talk it was or who gave it (I’ll find out by Thursday when the text will be available online), but the premiss was perfect – an answer to one of my questions.
Basically the speaker said the following:
Let us stop worrying about what others think about what we believe and start worrying about what Christ thinks of us.
I took this to mean “Yes, continue to share our testimonies but don’t argue or try to prove we are Christians; instead, act as a devout Christian would and our actions will govern our beliefs.”
For this reason I wanted to study about the title of this post: “What manner of men ought ye to be?”
When I searched for this on LDS.org, there were a couple older talks that carried that very title.
Here are some of the points that stuck out to me from the talk by President Howard W. Hunter:
One of the most important questions ever asked to mortal men was asked by the Son of God himself, the Savior of the world. To a group of disciples in the New World, a group anxious to be taught by him and even more anxious because he would soon be leaving them, he asked, “What manner of men ought ye to be?” Then in the same breath he gave this answer: “Even as I am” (3 Ne. 27:27).
Only Christ can be our ideal, our “bright and morning star” (Rev. 22:16). Only he can say without any reservation, “Follow me; learn of me; do the things you have seen me do. Drink of my water and eat of my bread. I am the way, the truth, and the life. I am the law and the light. Look unto me and ye shall live. Love one another as I have loved you” (see Matt. 11:29; Matt. 16:24; John 4:13–14; John 6:35, 51; John 7:37; John 13:34; John 14:6; 3 Ne. 15:9; 3 Ne. 27:21).
Let us follow the Son of God in all ways and in all walks of life. Let us make him our exemplar and our guide. We should at every opportunity ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” and then be more courageous to act upon the answer. We must follow Christ, in the best sense of that word. We must be about his work as he was about his Father’s…To the extent that our mortal powers permit, we should make every effort to become like Christ—the one perfect and sinless example this world has ever seen.
We must know Christ better than we know him; we must remember him more often than we remember him; we must serve him more valiantly than we serve him. Then we will drink water springing up unto eternal life and will eat the bread of life.
The talk was pretty short and to the point, but as I read it, I kept thinking, “How well do I know the answer to the question – ‘What would Jesus do?'”
Or another question that came to mind, “How well do I know Christ?” and “How can I get to know Him better?”
As I think about these questions, a few answers come to mind:
How well do I know Christ and how can I get to know Him better?
- To get to know Him better, I need to study His words found in the scriptures: the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine & Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price and the words of modern-day prophets.
- To get to know Him better, I need to communicate with Him via Heavenly Father in prayer.
- To get to know Him better, I need to make a concerted effort to remember Him throughout the day.
- To get to know Him better, I need to read other books that talk about Him.
- As I try to be like Him, I feel the Spirit will testify that I’m living a life as close to His example as I possibly can.
- As I try to be like Him, I feel I will feel of His love more and know that I’m doing what’s right.
I feel my whole online experience with sharing my beliefs and bearing my testimony to my friends has been handled how Christ would have handled it: not argumentative, just straight forward and direct.
In another talk titled “What Manner of Men Ought Ye to Be” by President Ezra Taft Benson, it says the following in answer to these questions:
As priesthood holders, we are to emulate the character of the Savior.
And what is His character?
He has identified the cardinal virtues of His divine character in a revelation to all priesthood holders who serve in His ministry. You are familiar with this verse in section 4 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which was given a year before the Church was organized:
“Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.” (D&C 4:6.)
- Virtue: Virtuous behavior implies that he has pure thoughts and clean actions. He will not lust in his heart, for to do so is to “deny the faith” and to lose the Spirit. (See D&C 42:23.)…Whenever a priesthood holder departs from the path of virtue in any form or expression, he loses the Spirit and comes under Satan’s power. He then receives the wages of him whom he has chosen to serve.
- Temperance: This means he is restrained in his emotions and verbal expressions. He does things in moderation and is not given to overindulgence. In a word, he has self-control. He is the master of his emotions, not the other way around…If a man does not control his temper it is a sad admission that he is not in control of his thoughts. He then becomes a victim to his own passions and emotions, which lead him to actions that are totally unfit for civilized behavior, let alone behavior for a priesthood holder. President David O. McKay once said, “A man who cannot control his temper is not very likely to control his passion, and no matter what his pretensions in religion, he moves in daily life very close to the animal plane.” (Improvement Era, June 1958, p. 407.)
- Patience: Patience is another form of self-control. It is the ability to postpone gratification and to bridle one’s passions. (See Alma 28:12.) A patient man does not engage in impetuous behavior in his relationships with loved ones, which he will later regret. Patience is composure under stress. A patient man is understanding of others’ faults. A priesthood bearer who is patient will be tolerant of the mistakes and failings of his loved ones. Because he loves them, he will not find fault nor criticize nor blame.
- Brotherly Kindness: One who is kind is sympathetic and gentle with others. He is considerate of others’ feelings and courteous in his behavior. He has a helpful nature. Kindness pardons others’ weaknesses and faults.
These are Christ-like attributes. How well am I practicing these “cardinal virtues of His divine character”?
We must seek the Holy Ghost to temper our actions.
How can we do this?
- “Did they seek the Lord to help them overcome their emotional outbursts?
- Did they rely on fasting and prayer?
- Did they seek a priesthood blessing?
- Did they ask our Heavenly Father to temper their emotions by the influence of the Holy Ghost?”
Jesus said we are to “hunger and thirst after righteousness.” (3 Ne. 12:6.) To do this, we must earnestly desire a righteous and virtuous life.
“What shall I do that I may have this eternal life of which thou hast spoken? Yea, what shall I do that I may be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may be filled with joy?” (Alma 22:15.)
Aaron instructed him to call upon God in faith to help him repent of all his sins. The king, anxious for his own soul, did as Aaron instructed:
“O God,” he prayed, “Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee”. (Alma 22:18; italics added.)
I love these answers. They are clear, direct, and to the point. They are the “equation” to come to know Christ and act as He would act, be as He would be.
…each of us must surrender our sins if we are to really know Christ. For we do not know Him until we become like Him.
This is a huge answer too – the only way to really come to KNOW Christ is to become like Him first. Then, and only then, will I truly know Him. Studying about Him in books and even in scriptures isn’t enough. I must first strive to DO HIS WILL and then will I come to know Him. Prayer and scripture study are things Christ would do. Fasting and service are also things he would do. Being kind, patient, virtuous, loving, and temperate are things He did and virtues he possessed.
Attaining a righteous and virtuous life is within the capability of any one of us if we will earnestly seek for it. If we do not have these character traits, the Lord has told us that we should “ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (D&C 4:7.)
To know the Savior, then, is to be like Him.
God will bless us to be like His Son when we make an earnest effort.
I’m grateful for this study today.
I hope and pray that I can review these words and really make a consistent effort to be like Christ, for then I will come to know Him best.
I’m grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and know it’s true.