I want to share a subject that I’ve been pondering and studying for some time, and more in earnest recently. It’s a subject that appears in scripture, so I must assume that many others have pondered it before me, and that many others ponder it still. It is “Having Confidence in God.” By that I mean two things:
Having confidence in the nature, character, and purposes of God
“So it is with our belief in God. Unless we know him and understand his nature and character, we cannot have perfect faith in him.” (N. Eldon Tanner, 1978) We also read in John 17:3, “and this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”
Before we can have confidence in God’s nature, character, and purpose, we need to know who God is. The best way to begin understanding God is through the scriptures; for an LDS person like myself, that includes the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Book of Mormon, which is “Another testament of Jesus Christ” (learn more about what the Book of Mormon is here.)
Here are a few things that I’ve learned about the nature of God through my study of the scriptures, that have helped me gain confidence in Him:
- Matthew Chapter 5 – We can infer much about the nature of God through the life of Jesus Christ, and through this chapter, His “sermon on the mount.” We learn that the “peacemakers” will be called the children of God; we learn that we should “Love [our] enemies, bless them that curse [us], do good to them that hate [us], and pray for them which despitefully use [us], and persecute [us].”; We learn that we should be perfect, even as God is perfect. If God is perfect, he certainly has all of the attributes that Christ describes in this sermon.
- Acts 10:34-35 – “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” We learn that God doesn’t care where we are from, what status we hold, or about anything but that we respect him and obey his commandments.
- D&C 59:21 – “And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments.” (read in context here)
- Exodus 34:5-6 – “And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth”
- Moroni 7:13 – “But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God”
- John 1:14 – He is full of grace and truth.
Taking just these few scriptures among hundreds that you could find that describe the character of God and His Son Jesus Christ, I have begun to understand that God is loving, forgiving, kind, long-suffering, patient, and full of compassion for us and our time here on earth. He wants us to return to live with Him, and has done everything He possibly could do to make that happen.
Knowing these things helps me have a strong confidence that God loves me and wants me to succeed. I have confidence in His character, and his willingness to be patience as I develop my own character in His image.
Having self-confidence in and through the goodness of God and His Son, Jesus Christ
In my mind, the logical progression of desires after we’ve started to understand the character of God and Jesus Christ is to grow individually to the point where we can have confidence in ourselves. The type of self-confidence I’m imagining is the confidence that Jesus Christ himself had and demonstrated while on earth. It’s the type of self-confidence that Paul demonstrated during his Apostleship. It’s the type of confidence that all of the prophets that ever walked the earth have demonstrated. It’s the kind of confidence that let’s us proclaim our faith boldly, and live our lives knowing that we are doing all we can to please God.
Admittedly, this is an area where I fall entirely short. I don’t have the confidence that Jesus Christ had, nor even the confidence that Paul or any of the prophets had as they went about their missions. I seek daily to simply understand God’s will for me in the day-to-day aspects of my life. And when I do understand God’s will, I struggle to actually do His will!
I believe that the process of learning to know God’s will and do it, and thereby gain self-confidence, will take some time. I know through examples in the scriptures that it can be done, and that I don’t have to wait my whole life to align myself with God and to do His works. But I also know that even when we’re aligned and working, we have to strive continually to stay on that path, to never deny Him.
It is my prayer that we can all work a little harder to understand God and Jesus Christ, and strive a little harder to live the way they want us to live, so we can gain the self-confidence that will lead us to better things.