Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Surrender and Developing Disposition

On my way down to Phoenix, I listed to Robert Millet's book on CD, Grace Works.  I wish I had the book so I could look up some quotes.  What struck me were two things:

1) that to successfully put on the character of Christ, I need to yield and submit and surrender.  In our culture a male surrendering is usually not considered admirable- rather, independent master of a difficult skill or directing his own destiny is more approved.  However, I must "yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit," surrender to Christ, submit to His laws, receive His atonement, and give my burdens to Him.  None of these actions denote mastery or control, but rather its relinquishment. 

2) It is by submitting and yielding that I can have my nature changed so that I have "no more disposition to do evil."  I often focus overmuch on the behavioral aspect of gospel living- and while I believe it is better to perform in compliance with God's command with an unwilling or resentful or apathetic heart than it is to breach those same commandments in violation of one's commitment to keep them, I also believe it is superior to want to keep them as well, and to obey out of that desire/disposition.  The sticky part is that I don't control my disposition with the completeness and immediacy as I do my behavior.  I can alter my conduct 180 degrees nearly instantly- my disposition/nature is not so malleable.  (sidenote: intermediate in malleability between conduct and disposition is habit).  Thus, to change my nature requires other, or at least more, than my executive control.  It likely requires patience, since the altering process is not as instant as behavioral change.  It also requires submission (picture offering my heart below at here's my heart) to God, who by some means can reach in and change my nature. 

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.


  1. Truth!

    Of (1): This makes me think so much of the promise in Ether 12: "for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." I think our culture emphasizes independence, but I feel the gospel kind of asks us for a balance - responsibility according to our capacity, and dependence on Him (along with admitting our weakness).

    Re: (2): Totally agree.

    disobedience << obedience on a behavioral level << desiring to obey.

    But like other people, and relationships, our own desires don't really lend themselves to control, and sometimes don't immediately care what we plan. In my mind, behavior (esp. when leading to habit) can help formulate desire... But it is more like helping a plant grow than constructing a house.

  2. I agree! I think that good works and exposure to grace over time changes our desires/disposition. I've often heard "fake it 'til you make it" as a good behavioral start on our end--acting in line until eventually our nature also falls in line. However, it is ultimately repeated experiences with the power of Christ (grace) that does the real changing of our nature.


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