By Study and Also By Faith

An LDS (Mormon) blog representing a search for knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


In the October 1994 Ensign Elder Dallin H. Oaks has an article that is excerpted from a speech he gave. It is titled, "Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall". A couple of paragraphs caught my eye:
As I conclude, I need to caution myself and each of my readers that the very nature of this message could tend to the same downfall that it warns against. The idea that our strengths can become our weaknesses could be understood to imply that we should have “moderation in all things.” But the Savior said that if we are “lukewarm,” he “will spue [us] out of [his] mouth” (Rev. 3:16). Moderation in all things is not a virtue, because it would seem to justify moderation in commitment. That is not moderation, but indifference. That kind of moderation runs counter to the divine commands to serve with all of our “heart, might, mind and strength” (D&C 4:2), to “seek … earnestly the riches of eternity” (D&C 68:31), and to be “valiant in the testimony of Jesus” (D&C 76:79). Moderation is not the answer.

How, then, do we prevent our strengths from becoming our downfall? The quality we must cultivate is humility. Humility is the great protector. Humility is the antidote against pride. Humility is the catalyst for all learning, especially spiritual things. Through the prophet Moroni, the Lord gave us this great insight into the role of humility: “I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (
Ether 12:27).
The entire article is, of course, a good read and will give you a lot to think about, but these two paragraphs made me stop and think. In many cases, moderation is advisable, but, as Elder Oaks points out, that isn't always the case. There are times to be valiant and strong and committed--particularly in being committed to the Lord.

Elder Oaks does cover a number of things that can be done over-zealously, such as gospel hobbies, excessive giving, excessive service, and so forth. However, backing off of unrealistic behaviors doesn't mean that we should back off of our committment to Jesus Christ.

I liked what Elder Oaks said about humility being the answer to avoiding letting our strengths become our downfall. If we are humble, we are teachable and not prideful, and are open to letting the Holy Spirit guide us in the way the Lord would have us go.

It's an interesting puzzle--how to be committed to the Lord and yet not go overboard in some of the outward behaviors. I think this article/speech is very good in bringing to the fore some of the things we ought to consider.

Maybe it's just me, but it did seem that the article is out of order--that the first section and the last should be reversed, but it is nevertheless good reading.

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Blogger T. F. Stern said...

In the movie, The Karate Kid, the little old man teaches his young pupil, "Balance in all things". The lesson applies to all aspects of life.

6:35 AM  
Blogger Mary A said...

TF, that was a good movie, wasn't it?! I agree that balance is the way to live life. It takes common sense to realize that and to apply it. There is so much to do and to learn and to become in so many areas. If we don't proceed with balance, we can end up lopsided rather than well-rounded.

9:55 AM  
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