The introduction to the May 31-June 6, 2021 Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families lesson encourages us to overcome our fears of proclaiming the restored gospel of Jesus Christ by reassuring us to “be of good cheer, little children; for I am in your midst” (Doctrine and Covenants 61:36). We have to learn to listen and respond to the promptings of the Holy Ghost and share the gospel with others. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints still need to follow the directive Jesus gave to the eleven Apostles after His Resurrection, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).
President Russell M. Nelson has taught: “I promise that as you continue to be obedient, expressing gratitude for every blessing the Lord gives you, and as you patiently honor the Lord’s timetable, you will be given the knowledge and understanding you seek. Every blessing the Lord has for you—even miracles—will follow. That is what personal revelation will do for you” (“Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” Ensign, May 2018, 95-96).
Trust in Christ and Preach His Gospel
On August 8, 1831, Joseph Smith inquired of the Lord concerning elders who had travelled to Jackson County, Missouri earlier that summer. He received the following revelation concerning their return journey to Kirtland, Ohio: “With some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man” (Doctrine and Covenants 60:2). Regardless of the paths we walk, the Lord is challenging Latter-day Saints to overcome our fears and share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others (see Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service ).
In relation to this revelation, Joseph Fielding Smith writes: “They had been commanded to preach the Gospel along the way and bear testimony among the people, but some had failed to magnify this commandment because of their fear of man. It is true that not every man is a natural missionary, and there are those who shrink from the responsibility of raising their voices in proclamation of the Gospel, and yet this is an obligation that we owe to this fallen world” (Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324 and 325, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2001], 147).
Many members experience similar feelings and fears of speaking with others about the gospel of Jesus Christ just as these early missionaries did. The reasons for not sharing the gospel are innumerable, yet we are missing opportunities to put our trust in the Lord.
Strengthened and Forgiven by Christ
This is not a challenge that we face alone. A subsequent revelation given to Joseph Smith promises that Christ is our “advocate, who knoweth the weakness of man and how to succor [us]” (Doctrine and Covenants 62:1). Yes, Jesus is our Advocate and will plead our cause and help us overcome our weaknesses.
Another remarkable benefit is that missionary work has a redemptive effect not only for those receiving the gospel but also for the missionary. The Apostle James wrote, “He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins” (James 5:20).
Concerning those early elders who faithfully fulfilled missions to Missouri, the Lord revealed, “Ye are blessed, for the testimony which ye have borne is recorded in heaven … and your sins are forgiven you” (Doctrine and Covenants 62:3). To know that our actions are recorded in heaven and our sins are forgiven are marvelous blessings.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote: “By reclaiming an erring brother, we save both him and ourselves. Our sins are hidden (remitted) because we ministered for the salvation and blessing of another member of the kingdom. In principle this special reward for Christ’s ministers applies also to those who preach the gospel and bring souls into the kingdom. The minister is rewarded with salvation and, of necessity, in the process, is freed from his own sins” (Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324 and 325, 2nd ed., 149).
Who wouldn’t want the joys of having our own sins forgiven and bringing even “one soul unto [Christ]” (Doctrine and Covenants 18:15)?
Treasures in Christ’s Crown
An additional blessing will be realized during Christ’s Second Coming, “In the day when I shall make up my jewels, all men shall know what it is that bespeaketh the power of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 60:4). Those who have been tried and proven faithful will be “Christ’s at his coming” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:99). This will be a glorious return when, “the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints” (Jude 1:14).
The Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324 and 325, 2nd ed., (147) explains: “In all ages jewels have been highly esteemed by man. As these precious stones are the best and most valued that the earth can produce, so are those people who prepare themselves by obedience to the commandments, for they will be the jewels the Savior will claim when He comes in glory (see Isaiah 62:3; Zechariah 9:16; Malachi 3:17; Doctrine and Covenants 101:3).” We should live with the hope to become one of Christ’s proven jewels.
Examining Ourselves and Testifying of Christ
Like the pioneer Saints called on missions to Missouri, we are challenged to open our mouths and share the gospel. This should be an incentive for us to examine what kind of missionaries we are even during the COVID-19 social distancing restrictions. In considering our actions, Elder David A. Bednar encourages us to reflect and prepare: “What have we learned during these recent months of lifestyle adjustments and restrictions? What do we need to improve in our lives spiritually, physically, socially, emotionally, and intellectually? Now is the time to prepare and prove ourselves willing and able to do all things whatsoever the Lord our God shall command us” (“We Will Prove Them Herewith,” Ensign, Nov. 2020, 10).
Such faith is exemplified and encouraged by President Russell M. Nelson: “As His disciples, you and I bear mighty responsibilities too. Wherever I walk, it is my divine calling and sacred privilege to bear fervent testimony of Jesus the Christ … And each of you also has the responsibility to know the Lord, love Him, follow Him, serve Him, and teach and testify of Him” (“Jesus the Christ, Our Master and More,” Ensign, Apr. 2000).