What Shall I Give in Exchange For My Soul?

[ 9 ] Comments

by Montserrat {Chocolate on my Cranium}

In God we trustI am drawn to simple, yet profound statements: one sentence sermons that make me think and stew and ponder. Perhaps this is why, in looking over my notes from General Conference, Elder Robert C. Gay’s talk seems to run the most through my mind. His reiteration of the Savior’s question to His disciples, “What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” made me stop in my tracks and examine my life.

What am I giving in exchange for my soul?

A brief look on the surface and I appear to be doing fairly well. I don’t have issues with the Word of Wisdom, keeping the Sabbath day holy, paying tithing, or any of the basic commandments.  Perhaps it was for people like me that Elder Gay presents this example:

robert-c-gay-10In the Bible we read that it was a commandment-keeping, wealthy young man who knelt before the Savior and asked what he needed to do to have eternal life. He turned away grieved when the Savior said, “One thing thou lackest.”

Hmmm….I can identify a bit too well with that rich young ruler, only I don’t want to turn away. I have to dig deeper. I ask myself again.

“What am I giving in exchange for my soul?”

Thankfully, Elder Gay provides a checklist of sorts to help me recognize the areas {oh, there are so many!} where I need to change and improve.

We are to give up all our sins, big or small, for the Father’s reward of eternal life. We are to forget self-justifying stories, excuses, rationalizations, defense mechanisms, procrastinations, appearances, personal pride, judgmental thoughts, and doing things our way. We are to separate ourselves from all worldliness and take upon us the image of God in our countenances.

There it is. When I find myself:

  1. using self-justification
  2. making excuses
  3. rationalizing
  4. employing defense mechanisms
  5. procrastinating
  6. putting on appearances
  7. becoming proud
  8. judging
  9. doing things my way

I realize those are warning signs for what I need to work on, things I am in danger of exchanging for my soul. My problem is I don’t always notice when I engage in those actions. But I am learning . . . slowly.

To the question, “What will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Satan would have us sell our lives for the candy bars and championships of this world. The Savior, however, calls us, without price, to exchange our sins, to take upon us His countenance, and to take that into the hearts of those within our reach. For this we may receive all that God has, which we are told is greater than all the combined treasures of this earth. Can you even imagine?

It’s hard and painful to root out those habits that lead me further from God. I am forever grateful I can repent over and over as I try over and over to improve. I want to show through my actions that I don’t just want to imagine. I want to receive.

  • Do you find it difficult to recognize those behaviors Elder Gay mentions in your own life?
  • What one line sermons have caused you to improve or change your behavior in some way?
photo by: kevin dooley

About Montserrat {Chocolate on my Cranium}

Montserrat enjoys classical music, playing the piano, reading biographies, eating gourmet chocolate, and playing a good game of Scrabble. A farmer's wife and mother of nine, she thinks spending time with her family is truly heaven on earth!

9 Responses to What Shall I Give in Exchange For My Soul?

  1. Ramona Gordy says:

    Wow, that is a powerful list. I have pondered over these things too, and my reasoning is that if I am thinking about this list and how over whelming it seems to be, then God must be working on me right now.
    I grew up in a community where you were either Catholic or Prostestant. Our family chose the latter. But I have always been fascinated about the act of “taking a vow of silence”. Where men and women in the Catholic clergy reason that by taking on a “vow of silence”, one can become more submissive to the will of God. By freeing one’s self from “talking” , the mind and body can have an opportunity to submit fully to the will of the Lord. It seems in silence one’s ears can hear better the voice of the Lord; and in silence your eyes are more focused, in silence your heart beats only for God. It’s a little extreme, but for me, if I take one behavior on that list at a time, and pray for help, fast for clarity and believe to be healed then I will be alright. I suppose we can look at this list as a personal Goliath, and we like David, have only a stone, a rock that we can hurl at it and bring it down. It’s not us that has the power to bring down the list and help us in our infirmities, but the “rock” of our Salvation, Jesus Christ.
    Didn’t mean to get all preachy, but thank you for bringing this up.

    • You reminded me that there is a need to find some time to meditate without distractions or noise of any kind. As you pointed out it is much better and easier to hear the voice of the Lord when we are focusing on listening to Him and nothing else. Elder Gay even mentioned that in his talk “Today it is so easy to get caught up in the noise of the world- despite our good intentions.”

      Sister Carole Stephens also asks this in her General Relief Society talk, “Or have our hearts become gradually hardened as we have allowed too much of the noise of the world to distract us from the gentle promptings that have surely come from the Spirit?”

      I remember Pres. Hinckley especially telling us we needed to find time to meditate and ponder.

  2. Bonnie says:

    I love your line, “A brief look on the surface and I appear to be doing fairly well.” It takes concerted effort to push ourselves toward discipleship when we could ignore that call with complacency. Pres. Lee once said: “The most important of all the commandments of God is that one that you are having the most difficulty keeping today.” I know that my path back to God is unique, because my package of gifts and trials is different from anyone’s. I can usually find the thing I need to work on by looking at what makes me most uncomfortable. Your list helps me see where those discomforts lie. Thanks for that. I want to receive too.

  3. templegoer says:

    These are useful pointers to clarifying what needs to be our focus. But I find myself thinking that if we focus on what makes us uncomfortable-won’t we always be uncomfortable?

    Bear with me as I am in a process here,where I am beginning to perhaps understand that God does not want me to be uncomfortable. He wants to give me peace, and as much succor as a soul separated from God through mortality can get. He also wants me to be an instrument of that succor to my brothers and sisters. In this model, it is about me finding my delight,initially perhaps through desire and submission, but then by being filled with the Spirit that ‘inviteth and enticeth to do good’.

    I’m learning about a gospel of enjoyment, where it’s no longer about flaying myself for my human faults and weaknesses, but accepting that my motives are good and acceptable to my Father, and enjoying the transformative power of His Spirit in my life.

    I do know tha the process mapped in this talk , well meaning as it is, can sometimes feed into a narrative of self loathing that eventually causes our children either to despair and depression, or fear and then loathing. That’s when they throw the baby out with the bath water and decide they no longer need the negativity.

    Of course that’s a process full of choices, but I’m learning to reframe my conversations with them towards the empowering and joyful, rather than giving them any reason to see the gospel as punitive and critical. We’re all happier and get along an awful lot better that way. I’m guessing it might depend on personality.

    • Bonnie says:

      I thought about that as I wrote that, actually, and should have gone back and added a caveat. Times and seasons. I need a little discomfort, because I’m comfortable. When I’ve been uncomfortable, I needed comfort. I think about Pres. Beck saying in a regional conference before she was released that there were two things we really needed to understand: We are doing better than we think we are, and we can do better than we’ve been. We have to know the first truth first, but when we do, it’s time to address the second. I try to be that way with my kids. We have to have hope (receive the love of God) first, then we can have faith (love God), and then we can have charity (love like God). Hope is first because it strengthens us and gives us life and light.

  4. Laura says:

    The “one liner” that is one of my very favorites is “Women of God can never be like women of the world.” This was stated by Sis. Margaret Nadauld in a conference talk in 2000. Maybe it isn’t as profound without the rest of the quote if you are not familiar with it. She continues…” The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity.” The first line is enough for me to remind me of the kind of woman that I am striving to become each day.

  5. Bernard says:

    Thank you so much for this post, and all those who have left comments. I grew up in an Irish Catholic family and subsequently attended a Catholic High School where a favourite saying of the headteacher, usually just before he dished out some punishment, was ‘What would a man do if he gained the whole world, and then lost his soul?’

    Your post has made me reflect on the comments made while at school, which are now quite a number of years ago but remain vivid in my memory. Using the message from my former headteacher and that of Elder Gay helps put issues into perspective.

    I particulary like a quote from Mark Twain “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” I know the first imprtant day and hope I have figured out my second important day.

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