General Conference Study: “Be an Example and a Light” by Pres. Thomas S. Monson


During his own scripture study, President Monson has found that two specific passages have stayed with him.

The first from the Sermon on the Mount:

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16

The second from one of Paul’s Epistles to Timothy:

“Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12

He said that the second scripture came to him as he was pondering on the first one, and that this verse from 1 Timothy (“be thou an example of the believers”) helps explain how we can accomplish the first (“let your light so shine before men”). We need to live the gospel in order to be an example in all of the things Paul listed. As we follow Christ’s example, His light will burn in us and light the way for others.

President Monson discusses Paul’s 6 Attributes of being an example of the believers, “attributes that will allow our lights to shine.”

Word & Conversation – He addresses these together. By our own choices, our words can lift and inspire, or they can harm and demean. There is a “profusion of profanity” in the world today, and it’s so bad that it’s nearly impossible to go a single day without hearing the names of God and Christ used so casually and thoughtlessly. It’s unfortunately true. I grieve at the lack of respect the world shows to God and Christ.

There’s a song called “Words” by Christian artist Hawk Nelson, that has become one of my favorites and is an example of exactly what President Monson says here. (Lyrics found on the K-LOVE website.)

They’ve made me feel like a prisoner
They’ve made me feel set free
They’ve made me feel like a criminal
Made me feel like a king
They’ve lifted my heart to places I’ve never been
They’ve dragged me down back to where I began

Words can build you up
Words can break you down
Start a fire in your heart
Or put it out

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t want to say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

You can heal the heartache
Speak over the fear
God, your voice is the only thing we need to hear

Words can build us up
Words can break us down
Start a fire in our hearts
Or put it out

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t want to say a word
Unless it points the world back to You
Let the words I say
Be the sound of Your grace
I don’t want to say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

I want to speak Your love
Not just another noise
I want to be Your life
I want to be Your voice

If you haven’t heard this song yet, I strongly encourage you to find it. Like I said before, it’s a wonderful example of what President Monson was talking about. Our words can be used for good or bad. The author of this song pleads for his words to be used to point the world back to Christ.

Charity – We’ve been told again and again that charity is the “pure love of Christ” (Moroni 7:47).  We have opportunities to help those in “our sphere of influence” to help them and lift their spirits as the Savior did during his ministry.

Spirit – We must strive to have kindness, gratitude, forgiveness and goodwill in our lives. As we strive to have these, they will provide a spirit to touch the lives of those around us. We will want to be around a person like this and follow their example. It is the Light of Christ that radiates from them.

Faith – I’ve heard faith defined in many ways, but as I studied this talk this past week, it is President Monson’s definition that really brings clarity:

“To be an example of faith means that we trust in the Lord and in His word.”

Our faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ can, and will, influence all we do. It can become an anchor in our lives.

“Faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other.”

But how do we keep our faith, and refresh it constantly?

“In order to gain and keep the faith we need, it is essential that we read and study and ponder the scriptures. Communication with our Heavenly Father through prayer is vital. We cannot afford to neglect these things, for the adversary and his hosts are relentlessly seeking for a chink in our armor, a lapse in our faithfulness.” (emphasis added)

We’ve heard this before, but President Monson’s emphasis on it during this past General Conference was a reminder that really hit home to me. I regret to say that I’ve allowed other things to get in the way of really studying and pondering my scriptures. That changes today.

The final attribute is Purity. To be pure is to be “clean in body, mind and spirit.” We are taught that the body is a temple (see, for example, 1 Cor. 6:19), to be treated with reverence and respect. President Monson encourages us to fill our minds with “uplifting and ennobling thoughts” to keep from allowing other, unclean thoughts to pollute our minds. “Purity,” Pres. Monson said, “will bring us peace of mind and will qualify us to receive the Savior’s promises.”

What did the Savior promise?

Matthew 5:8 – “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

What a wonderful promise.

“As we prove to be examples in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, and in purity we will qualify to be lights to the world.”

And as the world moves further away from the things of God, we will stand out more and more because we are different. We dress modestly, our language is clean, we don’t partake of harmful substances. We will choose not to have things in our homes that are demeaning and drive away the Spirit.

The Lord is our strength in all things, if we look to Him in all we do. We are not perfect. We will make mistakes. But we need not give up. With help from the Lord, and support from others, we can regain and strengthen the light we need to illuminate our own path “and provide the light others may need.”

Shine on, in whatever circumstances you find yourself. Don’t be afraid to relight your own lamp from someone else’s light. Christ is the Light of the World, and may we share His Light with the whole world.


Categories: Christlike attributes, General Conference Study, October 2015, Scripture Study | Leave a comment

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