General Relief Society Meeting: Sister Burton - ‘The Power, Joy and Love of Covenant Keeping’
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Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society general president, asked the women of the Church on Sept. 28 to “go forth with faith, cheerful hearts, and a great desire to be covenant keepers.”
“This is how we demonstrate our love for our Father in Heaven and for our Savior,” she said.
Speaking to Latter-day Saint women across the globe during the Relief Society General Meeting, Sister Burton addressed the topic, “The Power, Joy and Love of Covenant Keeping.”
She told the worldwide congregation that making and keeping covenants means choosing to bind themselves to their Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ.
“It is committing to follow the Savior,” Sister Burton said. “It is trusting Him and desiring to show our gratitude for the price He paid to set us free through the infinite gift of the Atonement.”
Quoting Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve, Sister Burton said a covenant is a binding, spiritual contract.
“In that binding contract, the Lord sets the terms and we agree to keep them,” she said. “Making and keeping our covenants is an expression of our commitment to become like the Savior.”
She told Latter-day Saint women that there are three reasons to make and keep covenants:
1. Covenant keeping strengthens, empowers, and protects.
One young sister, she said, testified that after she had received her temple endowment, she felt strengthened with the power to resist temptations she had previously struggled with.
“As we keep our covenants, we also receive courage and strength to help us bear one another’s burdens… ,” she said. “Oh, sisters, we all have burdens to bear and burdens to share. An invitation to bear one another’s burdens is an invitation to keep our covenants.”
Sister Burton said Latter-day Saints should also help their children make a keep covenants. “Not long ago, a thought-provoking and sincere question was raised in a council of priesthood and auxiliary leaders: ‘Do we really expect eight-year-olds to keep their covenants?’” she recalled. “As we counseled together, it was suggested that one way to prepare children to make and keep sacred baptismal covenants is to help them learn to make and keep a simple promise.”
Faithful parents are entitled to know how to best teach to meet the needs of their children, Sister Burton said. “As parents seek and act on personal revelation, counsel together, and minister and teach the simple principles of the gospel, they will have power to strengthen and protect their families. Other family members can also help.”
Sister Burton questioned, “How can we expect children to make and keep temple covenants if we don’t expect them to keep their first covenant — their baptismal covenant?”
Quoting Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve, Sister Burton said, “One of the greatest blessings we can offer to the world is the power of a Christ-centered home where the gospel is taught, covenants are kept, and love abounds.”
Sister Burton taught several ways Church members can create such a home to prepare their children to make and keep temple covenants. She said Latter-day Saint families can discover together:
· What it means to be worthy of a temple recommend.
· How to listen to the Holy Ghost.
· How to learn through the use of symbols, beginning with the sacred symbols of baptism and the sacrament.
· Why the body is sacred, why it is sometimes referred to as a temple, and how modest dress and grooming relates to the sacred nature of temple clothing.
· The plan of happiness in the scriptures.
· The stories of ancestors. Research family history, index, and perform vicarious temple work for deceased loved ones.
· The meaning of terms such as “endowment,” “ordinance,” “sealing,” “priesthood,” “keys,” and other words related to temple worship.
· The importance of going to the temple to make covenants with Heavenly Father.
“Let us remember the concept of “good, better, and best” as we teach,” said Sister Burton. “It is good to teach our children about the temple. It is better to prepare and expect them to make and keep covenants. It is best to show them by example that we cheerfully cleave to our own baptismal and temple covenants!
“Sisters, do we realize our vital role in the work of salvation as we nurture, teach, and prepare children to progress along the covenant path? The power to do so will come as we honor and keep our covenants.”
2. Keeping covenants is essential for true happiness.
Sister Burton said covenant keepers are commandment keepers. She asked women to rejoice in the privilege to take the sacrament each week.
“We do this by always remembering the Savior and always keeping His commandments, which includes keeping His Sabbath day holy. We do it by always remembering Him as we always have our personal and family prayers, daily scripture study, and weekly family home evenings. And when we get distracted or casual with these important things, we repent and begin again.”
3. Keeping our covenants demonstrates our love for the Savior and our Father in Heaven.
Sister Burton said love is the most compelling reason to be more diligent in covenant keeping.
“Why was the Savior willing to keep His covenant with the Father and fulfill His divine mission to atone for the sins of the world?” she questioned. “It was His love for His Father and His love for us.
“Why was the Father willing to allow His Only Begotten and perfect Son to suffer pain beyond description to bear the sins, heartaches, sicknesses, and infirmities of the world and all that is unfair in this life? We find the answer in these words: ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.’” (John 3:16)
Covenant keeping, she said, is one way for Latter-day Saints to express their love for the incomprehensible, infinite Atonement of their Savior and Redeemer and the perfect love of their Father in Heaven.
“Tonight I invite each of us to evaluate how much we love the Savior, using as a measure how joyfully we keep our covenants,” she said.