The other day we talked about the thirteenth Article of Faith. This is one of thirteen things Mormons believe. The list was written by Joseph Smith, the first Mormon prophet. Here is the entire thirteenth Article of Faith:
“We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”
Mormon teens have a theme this year and this year’s theme is I Believe. It’s focus is on this Article of Faith. Since it’s the longest one, it gives the teens a lot to work on. In the last article we talked about honesty, being true to yourself and your beliefs, and being chaste. The next item in the list is to be benevolent.
We don’t talk a lot about benevolence these days. You might find the word on a vocabulary test, but we don’t use it much. It means to be kind, compassionate, and caring. Benevolence is talked about in another part of this Article of Faith, where it says we believe in doing good to all men.
As a teenager, you have a lot of chances to do good to the people around you and to be benevolent. You’re surrounded by teenagers who are lonely or who have difficult lives. There are teenagers in your world who are hungry, or scared, or struggling to get through their classes. There are teenagers who don’t know Jesus Christ and teenagers who long for someone to listen and understand when they talk about their confusion over the world.
No one teenager can fix all the problems or help all the people who need help, but one teenager can make a huge difference. By choosing a few people, you can change that person’s world. When that person’s world is changed, it often changes other lives, too. You can’t tell how many lives will be changed because you made a small change in someone else’s life.
It isn’t just teenagers who need your help, either. Do you know a younger child who needs a mentor—someone to be a good example and to make sure they don’t grow up and land on a dangerous path? Do you know an elderly person who needs a cheerful young friend to drop by for a visit every now and then? Do you have a teacher at school, home, or church who could use a compliment about her teaching?
What about your own family? Could your parents benefit from a little benevolence? Without a doubt, they can. Parents do a lot of things teens don’t see or appreciate until they’re adults. It’s a tough job, but one kind word or act of service from their child can make everything so much easier. Why wait until you’re an adult to thank your parents for something they’ve done? It will mean even more if you do it today.
The next belief Mormon teens are working on in this Article of Faith is virtue. Virtue is another word that doesn’t get talked about much. Being virtuous, in a religious sense, means to live the way Jesus Christ taught us to live. It covers all the other things in this Article of Faith. A virtuous person won’t watch immoral movies or listen to music that has inappropriate words. A virtuous person puts down a book and gets rid of it as soon as she realizes it is not morally clean. Being virtuous requires us to be kind to others and to keep the commandments of God. Really, it means acting the way you’d act if Jesus were in the room watching you—which He is.
In the next article, we’ll talk about the last part, based on something Paul said in the New Testament of the Bible.