"To a degree, we all understand the gospel and know what we should be doing in our lives. Very likely, we know more than we apply. It may be a little like the young county farm agent who wanted to put his college training to use and said to the farmer, “Sam, you know that now we use something called contour plowing.” He went on to also expound on the benefits of hybrid strains of grain and crop rotation. About the time he got to the benefits of milking the cows three times a day rather than two, the old farmer said, “Hey, sonny, just a minute. I’m not farming half as well as I know how already.”
"Isn’t that the way life is? We seldom perform to the level of our knowledge. This brings me to the subject of resolutions—resolutions to conform our lives more closely to what we already know about the gospel. While many of us take seriously our New Year’s resolutions, some of us may not have made any because of our prior problems in keeping them. We must not overlook the power that making good resolutions can have in helping make our lives happier and more successful—regardless of our past performance.
"In an informal survey that I requested be taken among 150 young adults, they were asked to list three resolutions they felt would help them become happier and more successful during the new year. Almost everyone in the survey (98 percent) included resolutions to increase their spirituality. Two out of three (68 percent) indicated they would like to improve their social skills. Half (49 percent) indicated a desire to improve their physical fitness, and half (48 percent) wanted to grow intellectually. Everyone indicated a desire to improve. After all, self-improvement by coming unto Christ is at the heart of why we are here in mortality.
"In the Sermon on the Mount, the Savior is recorded as saying, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). In the Joseph Smith Translation, the first part of that sentence is rendered, “Ye are therefore commanded to be perfect” (JST, Matt. 5:50). The translation of the Greek word for perfect means “complete, finished, fully developed.” Some biblical analysts indicate that the suggestion to become perfect is exaggerated idealism or scriptural hyperbole. We as Latter-day Saints believe that the Savior meant what he said and that becoming like our Father in Heaven and the Savior is a commandment, not just a suggestion. We should strive continually to be more like them. After his resurrection, the Savior asked his disciples, “What manner of men ought ye to be?” and then answered, “Even as I am” (3 Ne. 27:27).
"Only one verse of scripture in the entire King James Version of the New Testament suggests what the Savior did to develop himself from age twelve until he began his formal ministry at age thirty: “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52; see JST, Matt. 3:24–26). In other words, the Savior developed in the same areas indicated on the poll: intellectually (in wisdom and knowledge), physically (in stature), socially (in favor with man), and spiritually (in favor with God).
"I am convinced that if we make and keep resolutions in those four areas, we will have a happier and more successful new year this coming year and every year for the rest of our lives. Let’s consider the nature of such resolutions and the benefits that can be ours if our resolve to improve ourselves is firm." (Joe J. Christensen, “Resolutions,” Ensign, Dec 1994, 62–67)Scripture of the Day: Luke 2:52 (see above for link)