In Hamlet, Shakespeare posed the question “to be or not to be…? Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Seventy, said “To be, or not to be” is a very good question. The Savior poses the question in a far more profound way, making it a vital doctrinal question for each of us: “What manner of men and women ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.(3 Nephi 27:27)” The first-person present tense of the verb be is I Am. He invites us to take upon us His name and His nature.
To become as He is, we must also do the things He did: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do(3 Nephi 27:21)”
To be and to do are inseparable. As interdependent doctrines they reinforce and promote each other. Faith inspires one to pray.
One thing the Savior often denounced was doing without being- calling them hypocrites: “This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me (Mark 7:6).” To do without to be is hypocrisy, or feigning to be what one is not- a pretender.
Conversely, to be without to do is void, as in “faith, if hath not works, is dead, being alone (James 2:17)” Be without do really isn’t being-it is self-deception, believing oneself to be good merely because one’s intentions are good.
Do without be-hypocrisy-portrays a false image to others, while be without do portrays false image to oneself.
The Savior chastised the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye pay tithe”-something they did-“of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith (Matthew 23:23).” Or in other words, they failed to be what they should have been.
While He recognized the importance of do, the Savior identified be as a “weightier matter.” The greater importance of being is illustrated in the following examples:
- Entering the waters of baptism is something we do. The be that must precede it is faith in Jesus Christ and a mighty change of heart.
- Partaking of the sacrament is something we do. Being worthy to partake of the sacrament is a weightier and much more important matter.
- For the young men, ordination to the priesthood is an act, or do. The weightier matter, however, is power in the priesthood, which is based “upon the principle of righteousness (D&C 121:36),” or be.
Many of us create to do list to remind us of things we want to accomplish. But people rarely have to be lists. Why? To do’s are activities or events that can be checked off the list when done. To be, however, is never done. You can’t earn checkmarks with to be’s.
Christlike to be’s cannot be seen, but they are the motivation force behind what we do, which can be seen.
An example of becoming as He is, and doing the things He did is Service. There are so many ways you can serve. In the For Strength of Youth it says you can serve by sharing the gospel with others. You can serve by doing temple and family work. One of the most important services you can give is within your own home.
He loves everyone, He prays for us, and continually serves us. He finds opportunities to express His love. He knows who we are and who we can become. He invites us to act in faith and live the truths He taught. In all His teachings, He focused on helping His followers love the gospel with all their hearts. He is our example and mentor.
I know that as we love others and pray to Him and serve others and find opportunities to teach the gospel and to try to become as much as we can like Him and go to church and study our scriptures that we are becoming more like Him and we are doing the things He did.
I would like to bear my testimony that we will be blessed if we do all these things. I know that as I study my scriptures that I learn more of what He did for others and what I can do so that I can be like Him. I know that the Savior loves each and every one of us and wants us to return with Him again. This I say in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.