Why does this happen? Why do we sometimes try to appear active, prosperous, and dedicated outwardly when on the inside—as the Revelator said of the Ephesians—we have “left [our] first love”?
In some cases, we may simply have lost our focus on the essence of the gospel, mistaking the “form of godliness” for the “power thereof." This is especially dangerous when we direct our outward expressions of discipleship to impress others for personal gain or influence. It is then that we are at risk of entering into Pharisee territory, and it is high time to examine our hearts to make immediate course corrections.
My dear friends and fellow priesthood holders, if Jesus Christ were to sit down with us and ask for an accounting of our stewardship, I am not sure He would focus much on programs and statistics. What the Savior would want to know is the condition of our heart. He would want to know how we love and minister to those in our care, how we show our love to our spouse and family, and how we lighten their daily load. And the Savior would want to know how you and I grow closer to Him and to our Heavenly Father.
It may be beneficial to search our own hearts. For example, we might ask ourselves, why do we serve in the Church of Jesus Christ?
We could even ask, why are we here at this meeting today?
I suppose if I were to answer that question on a superficial level, I could say that I’m here because President Monson assigned me to speak.
So I really didn’t have a choice.
Besides that, my wife, whom I love very much, expects me to attend. And how can I say no to her?
But we all know there are better reasons for attending our meetings and living our lives as committed disciples of Jesus Christ.
I am here because I desire with all my heart to follow my Master, Jesus Christ. I yearn to do all that He asks of me in this great cause. I hunger to be edified by the Holy Spirit and hear the voice of God as He speaks through His ordained servants. I am here to become a better man, to be lifted by the inspiring examples of my brothers and sisters in Christ, and to learn how to more effectively minister to those in need.
In short, I am here because I love my Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
I am sure this is your reason too. This is why we are willing to make sacrifices and not just declarations to follow the Savior.
. . . .this is our high and holy calling—to be agents of Jesus Christ, to love as He loved, to serve as He served, to “lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees,” to “look [after] the poor and the needy,” and to care for the widows and orphans.
I pray, brethren, that as we serve in our families, quorums, wards, stakes, communities, and nations, we will resist the temptation to draw attention to ourselves and, instead, strive for a far greater honor: to become humble, genuine disciples of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As we do so, we will find ourselves walking the path that leads to our best, most genuine, and noblest selves.