Friday, September 26, 2008

What good is doctrine?

I just got next month’s Ensign magazine and I had to read it totally through. I was particularly encouraged by the article “Gospel Doctrines: Anchors to Our Souls” by Elder Marlin K. Jensen. He quoted this significant snippet from President Boyd K. Packer:
True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior.
This is especially significant when we are trying to become better people. It tells us that we must have true principles before we can make any improvements.

This is very true. I was always fairly good at being organized, but when I finally began to understand the doctrine of stewardship, I made substantial improvements in how I deal with my stuff, how I use my money, how I do my church calling, how I use my time, etc. Understanding more about the doctrine of agency (freedom of choice) helped me make better choices and helped me allow others to make choices. Understanding the doctrine of repentance has given me a desire to purify myself and has led me to be more careful not to sin and to be more quick to repent if I find I have sinned. I have changed so many aspects of my life for the better after learning true doctrine.

Doctrine’s potential to change us lies in its communication of eternal principles, which have wide application in many different situations and allows us to govern ourselves.

Consider this doctrine: Heavenly Father has a plan for you.

This doctrine implies that our birth time or place was not accidental.
It implies that Heavenly Father is aware of us as individuals and considers each of us special.
It teaches that Heavenly Father has some special things that He wants us to do.
It implies us that Heavenly Father will guide us to whatever it is that He wants us to do.
It suggests that we must prayerfully consider our opportunities and receive guidance from Heavenly Father on what opportunities we should take.
It implies that when we follow Heavenly Father’s plan for us, we will be much happier than if we don’t follow it.

All of these ideas have the effect of helping us to appreciate our circumstances, encouraging us to look for divine guidance, to look for the Lord’s hand in our life events, and gives us a sense of purpose and a sense that we have a special place in the world. It has the effect of helping us to trust the Lord more, instead of depending upon our own limited understanding.

Yes, true doctrine is a wonderful, powerful thing.