I admire people of great courage. I think of Mormon and Moroni standing with sword drawn, facing vastly superior armies, knowing they must soon die, yet with courage and confidence sufficient to motivate tens of thousands to stand with them. I think of Paul before King Agrippa, after having being beaten, scourged and bloodied for his testimony of Jesus for years, yet still with courage to declare the name of Christ, willing to die for the words that were coming out of his mouth.
I have always assumed that these great ones enjoyed a unique fearlessness they had obtained through miraculous experiences, visions or visitations. I now believe that such miraculous witnesses act upon our confidence in Christ, and less upon our fear. I do not believe Moroni felt significantly less fear than those standing next to him. I just believe he felt supreme confidence that he was supposed to be exactly there doing exactly as he was, and that God would bring forth by Moroni’s hand those works with God ordained, and Moroni was willing to set aside his fear because he knew he was on the Lord’s mission. His courage wasn’t an absence of fear; it was a triumph of fear through faith in God, which faith came from knowing he was at that very moment doing the Lord’s will.
I was a new counselor in a bishopric years ago and attended my first New Beginnings meeting of the Young Women. The Laurel Class President stood and after a brief testimony asked, “Who will stand with me for truth and righteousness?” Every young woman except the incoming Beehives stood at once and shouted, “I will!” It was a stunning moment for me, and for the young Beehives. They looked up at their older Sister Moroni’s standing there, wanting to be like them. At the last of her talk, she asked again, “Who will stand with me for truth and righteousness?” This time everyone, including the new Beehives and myself, stood and shouted, “I will!” and we all meant it. I still do.
Standing for truth and righteousness isn’t by definition standing defiantly before murderous armies or mobs, it is knowing you should be standing there.
Jesus was asked by Pilot, “What is truth?” Christ had answered months earlier. To his beloved and fearing disciples, He said, “I am the truth.” In other words, we may only know the truth, the truth of any circumstance or moment of our lives after He has revealed it to us.
Righteousness is when, after we know the truth, we act upon it with unflinching courage. Knowing the truth makes us informed – acting in obedience to truth makes us righteous. So, to declare that I will “stand for truth and righteousness” is to declare that having obtained the truth by attuning myself to the voice of Christ, I will act upon that truth no matter the consequence to myself.
This is the bedrock of all spiritual greatness. This is why and how Moroni defied armies, and how and why Paul and all others like him seemed fearless and unflinching in their willingness to serve Jesus even unto their own death. It is why Joseph did not crumple under vile persecution, false imprisonment, betrayal by his dearest friends, and apostasy of those who had beheld visions with him, and even martyrdom – because he “stood for truth and righteousness” and that alone.
It is also how and why Jesus Christ wrought out the perfect atonement by the shedding of His own blood.
And, it is how you and I will proceed in these times of uncertainty and fear as we enter these end times when all we know will change. We will “stand for truth and righteousness” and that alone.
© August 2012, John M. Pontius, all rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction permitted.