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Excerpt from A Christlike Heart
The Lord spoke to those who were spared from the widespread destruction that swept across the Nephites’ lands after His Crucifixion. He said, “O ye house of Israel whom I have spared, how oft will I gather you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if ye will repent and return unto me with full purpose of heart” (3 Nephi 10:6). The Savior taught the Nephites at the temple in Bountiful, “Come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I will receive you” (3 Nephi 12:24). Jesus reminded His disciples to not cast out those who were unworthy to partake of the sacrament, “For ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them” (3 Nephi 18:32). The Savior sees the divine potential in everyone, that they might cast off their sins and come unto Him with full purpose of heart.
There are ten specific references in the Book of Mormon that use the phrase “full purpose of heart” or speak of doing something “with all our hearts.” Joseph Smith taught that we must subscribe to certain articles of adoption to enter into the kingdom of God.1 On our personal covenant-path journey, in developing a Christlike heart, coming to the Lord with full purpose of heart is one of those articles of adoption necessary to enter into the kingdom of God.
What exactly does it mean to do something with full purpose? Something is “full” when it has no empty space or when it is not lacking or omitting anything.2 “Purpose” is defined as the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.3 These definitions bring added meaning to what the Savior and prophets meant when they employed this phrase. The reason for our existence on Earth is to learn to follow and emulate the Savior, and this is to be done with complete and singular devotion on our part.
Coming to Christ with “full purpose of heart” is akin to living the law of consecration. The Lord is asking for us to fully give our hearts to Him, not merely a portion. Hearts must be fully consecrated to His purposes for us to be able to most effectively serve Him and do His will. There are plentiful examples of people who have properly developed this condition of the heart in the Book of Mormon, as well as examples of others whose behavior lacked a full purpose of heart.
Elder Patrick Kearon of the Seventy described what it means to have full purpose of heart in this way: “We must cease fighting against God and instead give our whole hearts to Him, holding nothing back. Then He can heal us. Then he can cleanse us from the venomous sting of sin.”4
Are we holding anything back in regard to the gospel and the commandments we have been taught to keep? Are we “pressing forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men, and feasting upon the word of Christ?” (2 Nephi 31:20). Amaleki teaches us to “come unto [Christ], and offer [our] whole souls as an offering unto Him” (Omni 1:26). We cannot afford to leave any of the affections of our heart with Satan and that for which he stands.
Half-heartedness is in stark contrast to doing something with full purpose of heart. Have you ever done anything half-heartedly? Have you ever worked on a school project half-heartedly and noticed a large drop in the quality of the finished product as a result? Have you ever done the bare minimum in a job and just tried to skate by? Have you half-heartedly sat in a church meeting just waiting for it to end so you could say you were there? It is possible that an honest assessment of our daily activities will reveal that a great deal of half-heartedness has infected our efforts.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, “It is so easy to be half-hearted, but this only produces half the growth, half the blessings, and just half a life, really, with more bud than blossom.”5 We cannot imagine half a heart would be ideal for peak physical performance. Maybe half a heart would lead to us being half-alive, and that condition sounds remarkably unappealing.
Elder Mark E. Petersen said, “There is no reward for halfhearted obedience. We must become vigorous and enthusiastic about living our religion, for God commands that we serve him with all our heart, with all our might, with all our strength, and with the very best of our intelligence. With Him there can be no halfway measures. We must be fully for him or we may be classed with those who are against him.”6
President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “There is a tendency on the part of some to become indifferent. There are those who drift off seeking the enticements of the world, forsaking the cause of the Lord. I see others who think it is all right to lower their standards, perhaps in small ways. In this very process they lose the cutting edge of enthusiasm for this work.”7
Both of the above quotes from Elder Petersen and President Hinckley discuss enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is a natural byproduct of living the gospel with full purpose of heart. While the word enthusiasm is not mentioned in the scriptures, there are several similar synonyms that are mentioned, such as zeal, diligence, and dedication.
The Enthusiasm of the
People of Ammon
The people of Ammon are one of the best examples of enthusiasm in the Book of Mormon. Mormon referred to the zeal of the people of Ammon on three separate occasions in his abridgment. Obviously, their zeal had a profound impact on Mormon and was an attribute that Mormon highly esteemed. Mormon first described them thus: “And Ammon did preach unto the people of king Lamoni; and it came to pass that he did teach them all things concerning things pertaining to righteousness. And he did exhort them daily, with all diligence; and they gave heed unto his word, and they were zealous for keeping the commandments of God” (Alma 21:23).
Mormon was impressed by the zeal the people of Ammon had for keeping the commandments of God. He provided further insight into this zeal when he observed, “And they were among the people of Nephi, and also numbered among the people who were of the church of God. And they were also distinguished for their zeal towards God, and also towards men; for they were perfectly honest and upright in all things; and they were firm in the faith of Christ, even unto the end” (Alma 27:27).
The zeal that the people of Ammon exhibited toward God in keeping His commandments was constantly reflected in their interactions with others. They were strict in keeping the commandments, and their discipleship was set apart by its exactness. Any interactions they had with others were governed by these principles, and others took notice.
On the third occasion, Mormon noted, “They were a zealous and beloved people, a highly favored people of the Lord” (Alma 27:30). Is there any surprise that the Lord would favor or bless those who possessed this distinctive characteristic? The Lord has said on multiple occasions that He is a jealous God (see Exodus 20:5, Mosiah 11:22, Mosiah 13:13). The Lord wants a zealous people, a people excited and exuberant for His law, His plan, and His atoning sacrifice with its resultant grace and mercy.
We can think of no better description of enthusiasm and zeal than Mormon’s words here. The people of Ammon lived the gospel with full purpose of heart. They were firm in the faith of Christ, even unto death. Sadly, there were many that did suffer death by the Lamanites, yet they remained steadfast in Christ and to the covenants they had made with the Lord.
One of our dad’s favorite missionary stories that he liked to share with us growing up is about enthusiasm. He served in the New England States Mission. He remembers being invited by an Episcopalian church to share some information about the Church. He accepted the invitation and attended with his district leader at the time. His district leader was a short elder that made up for any lack of height with an abundance of enthusiasm. My dad recognized that when this missionary spoke, people lit up and were attracted to what he had to say because of his enthusiasm. Enthusiasm both for the gospel and in his manner of communication qualified him to act as a very effective ambassador for the Church.