• “It is the eternal, inescapable law that growth comes only from work and preparation, whether the growth be material, mental, or spiritual. Work has no substitute.” J. Reuben Clark, Jr. (Conference Report, Apr. 1933, p.103)

Friday, August 3, 2012


"What kind of a question is that?"

It is a question from the Sunday School class I teach.
My students are age 14,15, and 16.

We were having a lesson about repenting of sin.

Sometimes words are not defined simply in concrete ideas related to me, now - today, or to what I care about and is happening in my life. We all know such opposites as good and bad, or happy and sad, when we experience them but how can such words be defined to someone else?

And anyway what does it mean to repent?

That was easy to answer.

We already had that lesson.

To repent means to stop!
Just stop what ever it is that needs to stop.
But what needs to stop?
What is 'sin'?

We arrived at a great answer.
We started out with the usual 'quoted' cliched answers.
And after a while we figured out that
'Sin is anything that divides or separates us from God'.

So? Who cares?
Why do we want to be with God?

Scriptures and prophets teach that God wants us to be happy. He wants us to have the most happiness possible. That is called joy. He wants to give each of us joy - real, lasting happiness. We are his children! He loves us! Lots! Lots and lots and lots more!! We already had those lessons this year, and last year. This same group was in my class last year too.

We learned that one main thing last year as we studied the New Testament. We learned about God's son Jesus Christ and their great love for every person, every single one. They really, truly love each person. And, in the scriptures. they are trying to tell us how to find and have real happiness. Scriptures are the instruction manuals for joy. We are learning that same lesson (that God loves each of his children and wants them to have real happiness) again this year from the Book of Mormon.

(BTW - The testimonies in the New Testament about Jesus Christ showing us examples of  how to follow God's commandments, Christ living the 'instructions for joy', were enthralling. If you haven't read it lately it is a great book. I highly recommend it.)

Now back to 'sin'.

I want to be happy.
And I want it to last!
I want joy!
What about you?

So what is sin?

Before we complete our definition I need to know what 'divide' means. If I divide 4 by 2 I get 2.  Two is less than 4. But says the mathematician, "now you have more pieces."

Exactly!  If we have a pizza, and cut it into pieces, each piece is separated into less than a whole pizza. (And if a greedy sibling cuts the pizza, and gets first choice, I can guarantee that some pieces will be bigger than others and I will get the smaller ones.)

So if dividing is less of something, is sin less happiness?

We all could understand that it is.

Sin is having less happiness.

Sin is anything that diminishes real, lasting joy.

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