Apostle says free agency is key for righteousness

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    By Keri Adams

    Elder Neal A. Maxwell told students at Tuesday”s Devotional March 16, 2004 that free agency is a complete and breathtaking part of God”s plan and it is important for them to make a commitment to righteous choices.

    “The agency of man — the freedom to choose — inevitably and simultaneously portray the perfect generosity and the perfect justice of God,” said Elder Maxwell, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    He said God is serious about his commitment to our free agency, and without this there would be no joy or life at all.

    “We worship a God whose character is so stunning, and who wants us to come home, but he will not force us,” Elder Maxwell said. “[He] will give us the maximum reward for our acts and impose upon us the minimum penalty which it is possible for him to impose.”

    Elder Maxwell said free agency is not only a blessing in everyone”s life, but also a crucial responsibility that one cannot ignore or delay.

    “Our freedom to choose is truly a shining and shimmering gift, but it is also one that can cause some shivering,” Elder Maxwell said. “Real choosing bristles with alternatives, enticements, defining moments, accountability, counterfeit and consequences.”

    He said this personal responsibility requires an active, not passive commitment from every individual.

    “The act of choosing is more than nodding ascent. It reflects real choices made over time and forming definite patterns,” Elder Maxwell said.

    Eric Litster, a freshman from Boise, Idaho, majoring in business, said Elder Maxwell”s message made him think about his own personal agency.

    “It made me realize I need to choose my actions and make better decisions,” Litster said, “because I”m accountable for everything I do.”

    The guiding light of Christ, wise choices and prayer are the keys to happiness, Elder Maxwell said.

    “We are on a path requiring daily decisions as we act according to our wills and pleasures,” Elder Maxwell said. “We can”t have joy unless we are spiritually submissive day in and day out in which we exercise that grand and glorious freedom.”

    He urged students to really listen to the Holy Ghost because it can distinguish between good and evil and can help with repentance. He said the gifts of the Holy Ghost — peace, joy and love — can guide and reassure, and these gifts will also lead to making righteous decisions.

    He said prayers are affected by choices, because people pray for what they want and then what they ask can be done.

    “If we have made good choices in our prayers,” Elder Maxwell said, “we are much less likely to ask amiss, but instead can ask according to that which is right.”

    Some students said they felt Elder Maxwell”s message applied powerfully to their own lives.

    “Elder Maxwell”s message was so enlightening,” said Nancy Steele, a freshman from Las Vegas. “It makes me want to think about every little choice I make. He really has a way with words.”

    Marissa Perona, a marriage, family, and human development major, said she liked Elder Maxwell”s message because of the importance he placed on a person”s choices leading to their own happiness.

    “It was good to get the right perspective again and to realize that we can choose to be happy,” Perona said. “It”s our choice, not anyone else”s.”

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