How do we become more righteous?
There are a great number of us that know we want to be better, but are not sure what to do differently.
The formula is simple, but not what we expect.
We have so many programs and practices and things to do that we have taken an easy formula and made it into an extensive list of rules. The list of rules is well intended, but frankly, a poor substitute for what is plainly laid out in the scriptures.
If you want to become a better person, do the following:
Cast off, is if it were a chain of bondage, everything that offends the Holy Ghost. Moroni refers to this when he says we must deny ourselves of all ungodliness, so that Christ’s grace may be sufficient for us. These days there are many practices that are abhorrent to the Holy Ghost but chief among them, the giant progenitor of the others, is our media: our movies, our so-called music, our books, our websites. We must cast off anything that our great grandparents would have considered indecent, and cease offending the Holy Ghost. If we can do that, and commit to it for years, rather than weeks or months, then in time the Holy Ghost himself will be with us far more, and we will naturally become more righteous, as the chains we have worn of our own volition will fall off, and we can begin to leave the natural man behind in earnest, having put off the things he craves.
Secondly, we must heed the counsel in D&C 4. We must save the souls of men. Specifically we must save our families, our fellow men, and our dead.
There is transforming power in such work. It brings the Holy Ghost into our lives like no other work.
Not just temple work, but saving our own dead ancestors and relatives.
Not just being a nice neighbor, and being “a good example”, but actually inviting people to the gospel. Being a good example is not the same as doing missionary work. It does not bring a fraction of the blessings.
Not just sitting by our family watching television, we must be actively doing whatever work we think will have the most direct power to save them.
Thirdly, we must feast on the word. We like to think we read our scriptures, but we hardly seem to know the first thing found in them. We need to feast in earnest, like we are starving.
That is a pretty simple formula: (1) Cast off that which is indecent and offends the Holy Ghost, (2) Save our family, our dead, and non members., (3) Feast on the word.
That formula doesn’t have seminary, family home evening, young mens and young womens, scouting, merit badges, campouts, ward barbecues, hometeaching, sunday school, girls camp, or a host of other things. I am not saying we should drop out of those. But our programs have taken strength to themselves and are pursued as if they were the core. But a person can do a whole lot of them, and find only a little spiritual reward for the effort. They are a law of Moses for a people to get them doing SOMETHING with spiritual benefit. They are programs that, if run with great inspiration, can benefit people, but that otherwise (and quite commonly) are mostly spiritual busywork.
All these programs must not replace our need to seek great inspiration. They can make us so busy doing “spiritual” things that we can miss the great matters. We have, I think, as members largely forgotten the core principles of righteousness, and thus find ourselves unsure how to be more righteous when we wake for a moment to our desperate need to improve. If we do the crucial few in great earnest, the others will gain real spiritual life. But the others do not necessarily provide much spiritual fuel in themselves. They really are a law of Moses trying to keep a people’s apathy toward spiritual things from overwhelming them. They are SOMETHING to do. They are paltry when used to substitute for the crucial things to do.
And we are so lost in them, that we have a hard time seeing which the crucial few really are. The crucial few are the ones found in the scriptures instead of in the manual. The crucial few lie on an entirely different plane than the rest of our work. They can transform us and make us much better than we were, because they bring the Holy Ghost in a way that no other work in the church even approaches.