Do You Consider Yourself Worthy?

March 27, 2018

Rob Clarke

Accounting Faculty Member

Rob Clarke was born in southern California, the second of 11 children, but grew up barefoot in Laie, Hawaii. He was the first member of the Kahuku, Hawaii ward to receive his Eagle Scout award.  He served in the Brazil Sao Paulo North Mission and left a big chunk of his heart there. 

Upon returning home from his mission, he met SueLee Peacock on a dare while “studying” in the BYU library, and they were later married. They have been blessed with five wonderful children. 

Prior to joining the BYU-Idaho Accounting faculty, he traveled the world as a consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers. His favorite thing about BYU-Idaho is the STUDENTS.

Spiritual Preparation

Pre-devotional Discussion:

“What are some things you do that help you become and stay worthy? On the devotional discussion board, share why these things are effective?”

My good friend Jonathan spoke at devotional several months ago and told about taking his girlfriend, who is now his wife, Bethany, on a devotional date. It wasn’t their first date, but it was the first time they held hands. After the devotional, I asked my daughter Eliza, who is a BYU-Idaho student, if devotional dates are really a thing. She assured me that they are quite a popular date on campus.

After I got thinking about it, I realized that I had my own devo date almost 30 years ago while attending BYU. I asked a girl with whom I had been on several dates to go to devotional with me. I don’t remember anything about the date, but I do remember that as we were walking back across campus after devotional, we had an interesting conversation. My daughter also told me that this specific conversation is what is known as a DTR—a “define the relationship” conversation. Now, I didn’t know what a DTR was, and I wasn’t the one to start it. It certainly wasn’t a very long conversation. In fact, it was very one sided. It went something like this: “I wish you wouldn’t hold my hand in public. People might think we’re dating and not ask me out.” I said, “Okay,” and that was that.

Now, I shared this experience with you because I think I was a good example of someone who didn’t understand where he stood in a relationship. The DTR I had was needful for me to have a correct understanding of where I stood with this young woman. It was a little hard on my ego, but it was necessary for me to be able to put the relationship into proper perspective.

Honestly, I think it’s a good thing to have an occasional DTR.

I often have the opportunity to interview members of the Church and discuss their worthiness. In a sense, this is a DTR—not with me but with the Savior. It is an opportunity for them to discuss, and to know with certainty, where they stand with Heavenly Father. The last question I ask usually starts with, “Do you consider yourself worthy?” Brothers and sisters, this can be a difficult question to answer, but it is important that we know the answer. It requires us to define our relationship with Heavenly Father.

Sometimes when this “Do you consider yourself worthy?” question is asked, the answer is, “I hope so.” I think this response comes from having experiences like I had with a different girl, much earlier in my life.

It was December 31, 1974. I know the exact date because it was the day I was baptized and received the gift of the Holy Ghost. I had been baptized early in the morning and was in my front yard, playing in a tree by the road, when a neighbor girl walked by. Now, this neighbor girl and I did not need to have a DTR, because we understood exactly where we stood with each other. We hated each other. She called me names, and I threw rocks at her. On this particular day, as I sat in the tree, she walked by, and I didn’t have any rocks with me, but I did have some nasty things to yell. And I yelled them. But something funny happened as soon as I did. The Holy Ghost whispered to me that I had just committed a sin. At the time, I didn’t recognize it as the Holy Ghost. I just felt a sick feeling in my stomach and guilt swept over me. The distinct thought came to my 8-year-old mind that I had just been baptized and cleansed from my sins, and I was supposed to go the rest of my life without sinning, and I didn’t even make it one day.

I’ve spent a lot of time, as I suppose some of you may have, wishing I could just be baptized again and start over fresh and clean. However, I have come to realize that even if I had another shot at baptism, I wouldn’t make it very long before I was wishing I could do it again.

There have also been many times in my life when I wondered where I would go if I were to die at that time. I think this is something we have all thought about at one time or another. Sometimes I think it would be nice if we could sit down with Heavenly Father and have a DTR and talk about how we’re doing.

Well, brothers and sisters, there will come a day when we do sit down with Him and have a frank discussion about how we have lived our life. But I believe we are supposed to come into that meeting fully knowing and understanding where we stand with Him. It won’t be a surprise to either Him or us.

I think it is important to understand our relationship to Heavenly Father and our relationship with Heavenly Father. This semester, I have gotten to be pretty good friends with the students in my Accounting 100 class, and I asked if they would be willing to share their thoughts about our relationship to Him and with Him. Here is what they said:

VIDEO SEGMENT 1

Did you notice that some talked about how they are Heavenly Father’s children? That is the nature of our relationship to Him. Do you remember last week when Elder K. Brett Nattress taught about Moses and his understanding that he is a son of God? Brothers and sisters, we too are His children. Because of this relationship, He loves us. He has done everything for us. Other students shared how they feel about Heavenly Father’s unconditional love for us and how He is “always there.” In the Book of Mormon, we are taught, “Whatsoever thing ye shall ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive in the name of Christ, ye shall receive it.”[1] As our Father, He “delight[s] to bless [us] with the greatest of all blessings.”[2]

Because He loves us, our Heavenly Father gives us commandments that will protect us and help us return to Him. Of all the commandments He has given us, the commandment to be perfect seems to be the most unreachable. We all know the scripture: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”[3]

But if I can’t even go a day without yelling nasty things at the neighbor girl, how am I supposed to go a lifetime and be perfect?

Maybe to ease my conscience about not being perfect, I asked some of my students the question “Do you feel perfect today?” Perhaps their responses reflect some of what you might answer today if you were asked the same thing.

VIDEO SEGMENT 2

Do any of those responses sound familiar to you? Perhaps what strikes me the most as I listen to these responses is the hopefulness in their replies. Not the hopefulness that we might have at Christmastime when we hope that we get what we want, but the hope that is described as confidence.

Why do my students have this hopefulness? If you listened carefully, you heard some reference their faith in Jesus Christ. Faith in Jesus Christ and His wonderful Atonement are what bring this hope, this confidence that we can keep all of the commandments, including being able to one day keep the commandment to be perfect.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland addressed this in the last general conference. He said: “With a willingness to repent and a desire for increased righteousness always in our hearts, I would hope we could pursue personal improvement in a way that doesn’t include getting ulcers or anorexia, feeling depressed or demolishing our self-esteem. That is not what the Lord wants for Primary children or anyone else who honestly sings, ‘I’m trying to be like Jesus.’”[4]

You may have also noticed that some of the students in the video mentioned worthiness and cleanliness.

So, I asked them more questions about how likely they are to get back to Heavenly Father and become perfect, about what it means to be perfect and to be worthy, how we can become worthy, and if they feel worthy now.

VIDEO SEGMENT 3

What were you taught by my students in this video? I learned that because of Jesus Christ, His gospel, and His Atonement, we can be confident that we will make it back to our Heavenly Father. Another word for this confidence is the hope that I mentioned earlier. Ether taught of this hope when he said, “Whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.”[5]

Faith is also a necessary component to returning to Heavenly Father. But faith in what? The better question is faith in whom? You know the answer; it is faith in Jesus Christ. When we have faith in Him, we will do the things He asks us to do. In the last video segment, Emily called them the “little things”—things like keeping the commandments, praying, studying the scriptures, being clean, holding a temple recommend, and attending church.

If we will do these things, our faith in Jesus Christ will be strengthened. And as our faith in Jesus Christ is strengthened, our ability to do the things we need to do to be worthy and progress towards perfection will increase. But it all depends on Jesus, doesn’t it?

With that in mind, I asked my students to share how they feel about Jesus Christ and His Atonement.

VIDEO SEGMENT 4

I appreciate those testimonies. But, brothers and sisters, despite everything that Jesus has done, you and I understand we cannot be saved “in [our] sins.”[6] In fact, one of the lies that Zeezoram tried to use to trap Amulek was to ask him if the Son of God “shall ... save his people in their sins.”[7] Amulek affirmed that we “cannot be saved in our sins.”[8] And Alma further explained that Christ does have “all power to save every man that believeth on his name and bringeth forth fruit meet for repentance.”[9] “Therefore, whosoever repenteth, and hardeneth not [their] heart, [they] shall have claim on mercy through [the] Only Begotten Son, unto a remission of [their] sins; and these shall enter into [Heavenly Father’s] rest.”[10]

I love the words of Helaman to his sons Nephi and Lehi: “And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”[11]

How do you and I build our foundation upon Christ? I live in the Rigby Idaho East Stake, and several years ago, our stake presidency identified eight things that will help us to build that foundation. They called them the “Rigby East Eight.” They are:

  • Have personal prayer morning and evening every day.
  • Have personal scripture study every day, with emphasis on the Book of Mormon.
  • Participate in family prayer every day.
  • Participate in family scripture study every day, with emphasis on the Book of Mormon.
  • Participate in family home evening every week.
  • Honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy, including attending sacrament meeting every week.
  • Serve faithfully as a home or visiting teacher by visiting all assigned families every month.
  • Worship at the temple

If you and I are doing these things, should we have to wonder about our relationship with Heavenly Father? Of course not.

As we do these things, we are “press[ing] forward with a steadfastness in Christ.... Wherefore, if [we] shall press forward ... and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.”[12] Brothers and sisters, these are all things we can do. Young or old, single or married, we can do these things, and we will be blessed.

But despite doing these things, we still make mistakes and will not reach perfection in this life. We still sin. It’s frustrating, isn’t it? I testify that despite our sins, we can become and remain worthy throughout our lives. The key is continuing to repent, and an important part of repentance is partaking of the sacrament.

Again, I asked my students in Accounting 100 to share their thoughts and feelings about this.

VIDEO SEGMENT 5

Can you feel the truth of what they said?

Every week, as we partake of the sacrament with a repentant heart, wanting to change, to become more like His Son, we covenant that we are willing to take upon us the name of His Son and that we will always remember Him and keep His commandments. In return, we are blessed with the companionship of the Holy Ghost, who sanctifies us and cleanses us from sin. While not perfect, we are clean and worthy. We know exactly where we stand with our Heavenly Father.

The sacrament is our weekly opportunity for a DTR with Heavenly Father. I have found that as members of Christ’s Church, we sometimes fall into the trap of believing that His Atonement is real but is for everyone else. If we think this, what do we really think of Christ? Do we have a testimony that because of His Atonement, He has the power to save everyone but us? Or do we have a testimony that He has the power to save everyone, including us? Brothers and sisters, we have the priesthood of God, we have His restored gospel and His Church, we have living prophets, and we have holy temples. With these, He expects us to know when we are worthy. We, you and I, have everything and exactly what we need to become, live, and remain worthy. All because of Jesus Christ.

We can do it. If you don’t feel worthy today, I invite you to repent. Whether it is serious or simple, Heavenly Father has provided the means for us to repent, partake of the sacrament, and become clean and worthy.

One last thought: For several years, I served as a bishop in my home ward. One day a friend came to me and said, “I feel sorry for you. You have to know all of the bad things people do.” I love my friend, but he couldn’t have gotten it more wrong. As a bishop in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I rejoiced whenever someone wanted to repent and change their life. I never once felt anything but love for them. And I never looked at it as having to know all of the bad things. In reality, Heavenly Father blessed me to see everyone as His child, whom He loves and whom He wants back. I only saw my brothers and sisters who were hurting and who wanted to be clean and worthy again, and I felt Heavenly Father’s love for them, and this became my love for them. I promise you that this is how your bishop sees you. If you’re hurting, go to him.

Brothers and sisters, Heavenly Father loves you. He sent His Only Begotten Son, who suffered and died for you and for me. If you and I exercise faith in Him and repent, we will be worthy and we can know that we are worthy.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

[1] Enos 1:15.

[2] Doctrine and Covenants 41:1.

[3] Matthew 5:48.

[4] Jeffrey R. Holland, “Be Ye Therefore Perfect—Eventually,” Ensign, Nov. 2017; lds.org.

[5] Ether 12:4.

[6] Alma 11:36.

[7] Alma 11:34.

[8] Alma 11:37.

[9] Alma 12:15.

[10] Alma 12:34.

[11] Helaman 5:12.

[12] 2 Nephi 31:20.

Do You Consider Yourself Worthy?

Audio of Rob Clarke's BYU-Idaho devotional address, Winter 2018


Interview with BYU-Idaho Radio

Audio of Rob Clarke's BYU-Idaho Radio interview about his Winter 2018 devotional address.