Let Your Light So Shine
Devotional or Speech given at
Brigham Young University-Hawaii
June 09, 2016
Assistant to the Commissioner of the Church Educational System Commencement
Brothers and sisters, aloha.
I am honored to be here with you today to celebrate your accomplishments in graduating from BYU–Hawaii. As I look upon you graduates, it is clear to me that a marvelous light emanates from each of you. Many people have already noticed that light within you, and many more will yet become aware of the light that you radiate.
The Savior taught that you must “let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” You might ask yourself, “How can I be a light to others in a world that is becoming increasingly dark as pertaining to moral values?”
I would like to focus on two ways that you can be such a light.
First, in the thirteenth article of faith it states, in part, “If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”
If you really want to make a profound difference in your family, in your community, and in the Church, you can proactively seek after thoughts that are virtuous and praiseworthy rather than falling prey to the thoughts of the natural man. Let “virtue garnish [your] thoughts unceasingly,” and then transfer those thoughts into your everyday conversation.
Pure thoughts will lead to a life that is uplifting and principled and will lead away from a life that is debased and void of virtue. Those who will be fortunate enough to cross paths with you will be inspired by the light that radiates from your countenance and will want that same blessing in their own lives.
An example of using appropriate speech is illustrated by the experience of two missionaries who served with my wife and me in the Brazil Recife Mission, Elder Eric Silva and Elder Derrick Clements.
During a typical day of missionary work, these elders left a home in which they had been teaching a lesson about the Restoration. Instead of talking about worldly topics as they walked to their next appointment, they conversed with each other about Jesus Christ and His gospel. Suddenly, Elder Silva stopped mid-sentence and felt prompted to talk to a woman in the middle of a large crowd of approaching people. As they addressed the woman, she was looking above their heads, with tears in her eyes. When they asked if they could help, she said that they already had. She had been having a difficult day, but when she saw the two missionaries, she felt a light and a peace that she had never felt before. She felt the love of God for the first time.
Like these good missionaries, your light will also shine if you will seek after those things that are virtuous, lovely, of good report, and praiseworthy.
A second way in which you can be a light to others is to lift others’ burdens through Christlike service. As you share your light, you will be able to help those who are struggling or discouraged due to a variety of challenges, such as physical or emotional illness, spiritual infirmity, or any other difficult circumstance.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encourages its members to follow the example of Jesus Christ by serving others. The Book of Mormon teaches that “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.”
The recent Relief Society refugee relief effort entitled “I Was a Stranger” is a great example of one way in which you can participate in meaningful service that will bless the lives of individuals in your communities. Such service will enable your light to shine brightly as you work in behalf of those who are seeking a better life.
You can also serve those within your own families, and, by so doing, you will have your hearts bound to theirs in profound and enduring ways. I am grateful to acknowledge that I have been the recipient of such service in my life. At a previous BYU–Hawaii commencement, I shared the following experience:
“Many years ago, when I was a teenager, my parents were undergoing serious challenges with my father’s health and with their ability to provide for the temporal necessities of our family. My father became disabled due to a slow-growing malignant brain tumor and ended up losing his small business, necessitating major changes in our family. Where we had previously enjoyed a modest, middle-class lifestyle, suddenly we were faced with having to live off of little to no savings, with no other obvious means of financial support. Although many people in the world experience temporal challenges far greater than what we experienced, it was, nonetheless, an extremely difficult and stress-filled time in our life.
“After passing through many months of this economic crisis, my mother and I were trying to figure out how to provide food for our family, while at the same time attempting to pay off some of the debts that were owed as a result of the demise of the family business. The outlook for our future did not appear to be bright at that point.
“However, one day a Christmas card arrived in the mail with a very generous check from my uncle, who had felt prompted to reach out and help our family. Not a wealthy man himself, he freely shared of his resources and acted on the spiritual promptings he had received, which was a direct answer to our prayers.”
By helping my family in our time of need, the light manifest by my uncle’s actions continues to shine brightly in my life.
Whatever else you do in your life, make certain that you add something meaningful to the world, rather than simply taking or consuming all you can. The example of righteousness that you set and the light that emanates from you will brighten the path for others who are weighed down by worry and discouragement.
Be brave and have the courage to fulfill your potential. Do not be swayed by those who will scorn and deride you as you strive to do good. Do not be deceived by those who put forward “darkness for light, and light for darkness.” Rejoice in the light of the Savior of the World. This light will serve as a shining armor to protect you and those you serve from the fiery darts of the adversary.
As you seek after the good and praiseworthy things of the world and serve your fellowmen with all of your heart, might, mind, and strength, your life will be full and complete, and you will “walk in the light of the Lord.” As you walk in His light, you will shine on a path for others so that they too can follow the teachings of our Savior. You will play an integral role in helping the light of the Lord to break forth as a force for good within your families, your communities, and throughout the world. I know that is true and testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.