During her Education Week Devotional, Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary General President for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke about agency and using enticements to propel spiritual growth.
“The gospel of Jesus Christ is our Heavenly Father’s practical guide for happy living,” said Sister Jones.
The basis of that guide is agency. To illustrate the guide, Sister Jones shared verses from 2 Nephi 2, which outline both agency and choices we must face in mortality. Those verses share that people are given the power and agency to act, but we cannot act without first being enticed.
“One of the great ironies in life is this: the one precious thing that Heavenly Father will never take from us is our agency, the very thing that we give away so freely to others. Letting others influence our decisions through their behavior can weaken our ability to use our agency correctly,” said Sister Jones.
As an example of an enticement, Sister Jones shared a story from her own life. One morning on her way to the temple she received a speeding ticket. That moment was an enticement: she could choose to let it ruin her day or she could choose to use it as an opportunity for growth.
She initially gave into the negativity and slowly made her way home, feeling unworthy to continue her trip to the temple. She soon realized her mistake and prayed for forgiveness and spiritual perspective. A loving Heavenly Father allowed her to realize her worth and to choose a more positive path.
“Enticements, both positive and negative, are real, and it is what we choose to do with them when they occur that will make all the difference in our daily lives,” she said. “Can you be excited and motivated, realizing that you can use every enticement to progress spiritually?”
Sister Jones then directed audience members to consider what entices them. Chocolate chip cookies, other drivers on the road, poor health—each enticement is an opportunity for spiritual growth because it is an opportunity to exercise agency.
The key to situations like these, Sister Jones says, is prayer. The Holy Ghost will influence those who pray, which will help them transcend negative enticement. This principle can be seen in examples from the scriptures, such as Nephi who turned to the Lord in prayer for strength during difficult times. If we pray, each of us can receive that same strength.
“Enticements, tribulations and tests, when endured well, are followed by blessings. As we see negative or evil enticements with our spiritual eyes, we can receive the power to overcome them. That is one of the blessings,” she said. “The challenge and opportunity of our lives, then, is to be steadfast in Christ by practicing rising above enticements and adversities.”
As another example of dealing with enticements, Sister Jones shared a story about her husband and her daughter. Her daughter had spent the night at a friend’s house. When she woke up in the morning, she realized that during the night her car had been towed. When she called her parents, they were enticed.
While they waited for the tow yard to open, her husband prepared a lesson for his church meeting the next day. He realized that he should treat the situation—and the other people in it—with grace. Instead of yelling when he got to the tow yard, he was kind. He did not give in to the negative enticement and was able to retain his agency.
Sister Jones concluded by saying, “As we make a daily effort to overcome our enticements and put off the natural man, we begin to experience greater control in our lives. The little things don’t bother us as much because we see them for what they really are—opportunities to use our agency to turn to our Heavenly Father and to become as He is.”