As 2016 is starting, I offer my wishes of peace, goodwill and happiness to all our readers of Mormon Newsroom Canada. Despite the important daily challenges around us, what a relief it is to see all the Christian acts extended by people of all communities to ease the pain of others. In the Book of Mormon we read, “And now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, … that ye may be redeemed of God, … that ye may have eternal life” (Mosiah 18:8–9). We are beginning this New Year with this same desire to contribute to the growth and welfare of all human beings.
In the parable of the talents, Jesus Christ encourages us to use the gifts we are given. The parable states that a wealthy businessman gave talents of gold to each of his servants to use while he was away. The servants that were given five and two, respectively, worked with those talents to double their value. The servant who was given one talent hid his away to avoid losing it. When the businessman returned, he commended the two servants who had made use of their talents and condemned the slothful servant who had hidden his (seeMatthew 25:14–30). We all have been given talents — not of gold but of personal value. These talents may be as simple as smiling at others or paying compliments. Let’s make 2016 a year where we share our talents to improve the lives of others. Let’s be compassionate to the broken-hearted, generous to the needy and uplifting to the wounded in spirit. If all we can do is smile, then let’s brighten others with that kind expression of hope and joy. We all have value regardless of our circumstance, and each one of us can be a “good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23) as we share our talents with others. Let’s pattern our lives after the Saviour’s this year and spend our time doing good.
Can 2016 become a year-long workshop for building peace within our families — immediate and extended? Such a quest ideally begins from within. Our motives must become focused on always building, never destroying. Our responses must encourage rather than condemn. This daily effort requires a renewed belief that each family member desires to be his or her best and to do his or her best — in spite of the most recent demonstration to the contrary. Hence, we forgive and rebuild, again and again and again. We treat others the way we would hope to be treated during our moments of personal weakness. We express our love — outwardly, frequently and unconditionally. We must believe that all of God’s children have the latent potential to change and become more consistent, dependable and delightful followers of Christ through the powerful refining process of living in families. Thus, it is not our task, responsibility or duty to fix the other person. This fixing is done through the daily grind of life. And, with knowledge of the restored gospel, we know that the ultimate fixing is provided to faithful followers of the Saviour through the saving power of His atoning sacrifice.
The familiar picture of the old year dying and the New Year being born as a new baby brings to mind one of the most important messages in the scriptures: each of us can cast off our old man or woman and become new again.Colossians 3:9–10 states, “Ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.” We do not have to wait for a new year to do this. We can do it anytime. But a new year can be a good time to make a positive change. This is not only a good idea; it is essential for our salvation. Mosiah 27:26 reads, “And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.” I once wondered how it is possible for God to not remember our sins. Doctrine and Covenants 58:42 tells us, “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.” As I realize that I can become a “new man,” it makes sense that if God looks at me as a new man, then my “old man” with his old sins no longer exists. Therefore, as God looks at my new man, there are no old sins for Him to remember. I am grateful for Christ’s Atonement and the ability for me to become a new man.