Rationalization and Excuses Leave You Empty

I’ve posted both the full lesson and the object lesson part here in case Seminary Mom’s (rather long) lesson doesn’t fit with the message you’re trying to get across in your lesson:


The Object Lesson

I brought out a muffin tray with muffin liners, but no actual muffins inside the liners. I explained I’d planned on baking muffins for them during class, but had forgotten the necessary eggs for the batter. Oh, well. Sorry.

Was my excuse good enough? Did the result fill their tummies? Obviously not.

I suggested that living a life full of justifications will leave us just as empty as the empty muffin tin is – when we stand before the Lord with all of our excuses, rationalizations, and justifications.

I suggested to [the class] that instead, by living a life hungry for the word of God, and filling ourselves full of it through our obedience, we instead will appear before the Lord ready to be greeted by him and content in the joy which will rightfully come.

I suggested that [the students] stretch themselves in preparation for this coming General Conference and to analyze whether they are ready to receive the counsel which will be prayerfully given. Will they listen and implement, or will they rationalize and justify not hearkening to anything that isn’t “convenient?” There is a reason Elder Holland once called Christ “the Inconvenient Messiah.”

Full Lesson Below

Today we covered all of 3 Nephi 26, but I mostly emphasized the following topic:

I gave a journal question similar to: Are there times when you don’t follow gospel principles? If so, do you justify those choices? The students wrote their responses in their journal, including specifics on what areas they will improve if needed.

I then shared my excitement for the lesson for today, saying it was perfect for getting ready for General Conference (we have spring break next week, so today was the last class prior to General Conference).

To start off, I asked them if they had any unanswered questions, such as how the earth was specifically created, questions about any other unexplained mysteries they may have encountered in their science, history or other classes at school, or even about dinosaurs (to get their attention). :0)

After letting them think about that for a moment, I guided them to 3 Nephi 26:1-4. We read how Christ expounded all things unto the Nephites, both great and small. Mormon tells us Christ explained all things, “even from the beginning until the time that he should come in his glory.” (vs. 3)

How wonderful it would be to have the Savior as your teacher, expounding all things regarding this life. Can you imagine having such a perfect instructor, teaching in such a way?!

3 Nephi 26:6 states that there “cannot be written in this book even a hundredth part of the things which Jesus did truly teach unto the people.”

Mormon had wanted to record these things. He almost did. But he experienced a roadblock. I said, “OK, class find the roadblock. It’s somewhere in 3 Nephi 26.”

They found the answer in verse 11: “Behold, I was about to write them, all which were engraven upon the plates of Nephi, but the Lord forbade it, saying: I will try the faith of my people.”

I followed that up with a quote from the institute manual for this section, on page 126:

“Now the Lord has placed us on probation as members of the Church. He has given us the Book of Mormon, which is the lesser part, to build up our faith through our obedience to the counsels which it contains, and when we ourselves, members of the Church, are willing to keep the commandments as they have been given to us and show our faith as the Nephites did for a short period of time, then the Lord is ready to bring forth the other record (JUST IMAGINE – ALL THOSE ANSWERS CHRIST GAVE, WAITING IN THAT RECORD!) and give it to us, but we are not ready now to receive it.

“Why? Because we have not lived up to the requirements in this probationary state in the reading of the record which had been given to us and in following its counsels” (Joseph Fielding Smith, in Conference Report, Sept.-Oct. 1961, 20).

[The above quote also was in the seminary student manual, although shorter.]

Thus, to receive all that the Lord has, we need to live according to the light we’ve already received. No justifying allowed.

To prepare ourselves for additional scriptures in the future (as taught by President Joseph Fielding Smith and mentioned in 3 Nephi 26: 9), we need to live by the teachings we’ve gained today. We additionally need to hearken to the living prophets and not excuse ourselves when we don’t. To gain further light, we need to live by the light we already have. And we have the perfect opportunity coming up in eight days – General Conference!

So again the question to the class, “Am I justifying my lack of response to any particular commandment?”

In preparation then for counsel received in General Conference, I played a clip of the DVD “Standard Night” (CES instructor John Bytheway). The students watched him quote the section from the youth’s pamphlet For the Strength of Youth on Movies. Then Brother Bytheway read a quote from Elder Clark from a recent General Conference, who also gave plain instruction about the movies we watch.

I asked the class: Do we turn a deaf ear to counsel which is just too inconvenient? Or to counsel that requires sacrifice? For example, if the movie has nudity in it, do we excuse it – “Hey, it’s not R. It’s only PG-13. It must be ok to watch nudity.”

I asked again, do we justify ourselves in so doing? It’s a dangerous place to be.

I brought out a muffin tray with muffin liners, but no actual muffins inside the liners. I explained I’d planned on baking muffins for them during class, but had forgotten the necessary eggs for the batter. Oh, well. Sorry.

Was my excuse good enough? Did the result fill their tummies? Obviously not.

I suggested that living a life full of justifications will leave us just as empty as the empty muffin tin is – when we stand before the Lord with all of our excuses, rationalizations, and justifications.

I suggested to them that instead, by living a life hungry for the word of God, and filling ourselves full of it through our obedience, we instead will appear before the Lord ready to be greeted by him and content in the joy which will rightfully come.

I suggested that they stretch themselves in preparation for this coming General Conference and to analyze whether they are ready to receive the counsel which will be prayerfully given. Will they listen and implement, or will they rationalize and justify not hearkening to anything that isn’t “convenient?” There is a reason Elder Holland once called Christ “the Inconvenient Messiah.”

I suggested that they think about stretching their spiritual souls to be able to receive that which will be offered in Conference. They could do this by approaching conference in a new way – whether it would be in watching all *four* sessions if they’ve never done that, or writing in a journal *every* counsel given over the pulpit to work on over the next six months. Whatever it would be they decide, by approaching conference this way, they can know that they are proving themselves as eager children of God, ready to receive the things of God.

And in summary, in so doing, they will prove themselves worthy to receive the future scriptures Mormon speaks of. What a blessing to be found diligently striving in this way.