Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Alma 9:7 - Bold Testimony

There seems to be an de facto standard that says those who shed the most tears during their testimony are the most spiritual.
For those who rarely shed tears during a testimony, does that mean they don’t have a strong testimony? Do I have to cry as proof that I feel the spirit?

Richard G. Scott helps us understand this relationship between testimony and emotion.
A testimony is fortified by spiritual impressions that confirm the validity of a teaching, of a righteous act, or of a warning of pending danger. Often such guidance is accompanied by powerful emotions that make it difficult to speak and bring tears to the eyes. But a testimony is not emotion. It is the very essence of character woven from threads born of countless correct decisions.  (Richard G. Scott, "The Power of a Strong Testimony", LDS General Conference October 2001)
Perhaps this statement by President Howard W. Hunter will shed some additional light on this topic:
“I get concerned when it appears that strong emotion or free-flowing tears are equated with the presence of the Spirit. Certainly the Spirit of the Lord can bring strong emotional feelings, including tears, but that outward manifestation ought not to be confused with the presence of the Spirit itself.” (Howard W. Hunter, in Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service (2004), 99.)
As an example of bold testimony we can look to the story of Alma and Amulek when they were preaching to the the people of Ammoniah.  Starting in verse 6 of Alma chapter 9 the people asked Alma:
6.  And they said: Who is God, that sendeth no more authority than one man among this people, to declare unto them the truth of such great and marvelous things?
Alma’s response was to bear bold testimony.
7.   And they stood forth to lay their hands on me; but behold, they did not. And I stood with boldness to declare unto them, yea, I did boldly testify unto them, . . .
As I envision Alma standing before the people bearing bold testimony I see him full of spiritual strength.  I don’t see him reaching for the box of tissues next to the pulpit.

Finally, this instruction by President Eyring may help us as we prepare for the next fast and testimony meeting.
Those who have prepared carefully for the fast and testimony meeting won’t need to be reminded how to bear testimony should they feel impressed to do it in the meeting. They won’t give sermons or exhortations or travel reports or try to entertain as they bear witness. Because they will have already expressed appreciation to people privately, they will have less need to do it publicly. Neither will they feel a need to use eloquent language nor to go on at length.
A testimony is a simple expression of what we feel. The member who has fasted both for the blessing of the poor and for the companionship of the Spirit will be feeling gratitude for the love of God and the certainty of eternal truth. Even a child can feel such things, which may be why sometimes the testimony of a child so moves us and why our preparation of fasting and prayer produces in us childlike feelings. (Henry B. Eyring, “Witnesses for God” November 1996 LDS General Conference)


Perhaps this instruction will help those who are less prone to cry feel that they can stand in fast and testimony meeting and boldly share their testimony, even if they don’t need to reach for the Kleenex.