Posted by: nmontague | July 12, 2010

Individual Righteousness

The day has been unpleasant and I haven’t nearly gotten what I wanted to accomplished. But I wanted to write a blog tonight as well. It’s been tough because usually I have some ideas floating through my mind long before I get to the blog writing point. But today, I really haven’t. And I try not to write until I feel particularly inspired to write something or another. I haven’t felt very inspired until now, but I still felt like I should be writing something.

I was reading an article earlier called The Priesthood Reorganization of 1877: Brigham Young’s last Achievement by William G. Hartley. One of the lines in it stated:

“But temporal and spiritual unity within a group requires individual righteousness.”

Now, that statement was mentioned in passing by the article, it wasn’t the point of the article. But yet, that statement is what I’ve been thinking of most since I read it. I think it’s accurate.

Fundamentally, a group is only as strong as the individuals within that group. All solutions to the problems in life need to be addressed at the individual level because they are individual problems. For example, if unemployment is high, it’s because many individuals have lost their jobs. Doesn’t matter what laws, regulations, or benefits are passed, until the individual needs are addressed and the individuals either step up or those around the individual do what they can to help him/her, nothing is really solved. In fact, I think that’s one of the major flaws in government intervention, it neglects the needs of the individual and it’s the individuals who make up society.

So societies are only as strong as the individuals involved. Unity requires civility. Unity requires us to have goodwill toward on another. It requires us to give up our selfish tendencies if something greater comes along. This can only be done by individuals and can only be done voluntarily. No one can force you to act a certain way or do a certain thing. It has to come through individual choice because the individual is persuaded it is the right thing, not only for himself, but for those around him. Unity comes only when people choose to be unified.

God has set a standard in the scriptures that He wants us to live up to. We aren’t perfect. We don’t live up to those principles and attributes at all times. In fact, many of us are ignorant of many of those principles. God may not have even revealed all of them because of our inability to live by the ones we have currently recieved. But I do know that we can learn and develop these attributes. We can live these principles. It takes God’s grace to do so, but it can be done.

Individual righteousness is living those principles. Principles such as faith, honesty, charity, civility, forgiveness, friendship, humility, sacrifice, personal integrity, and hard work, etc. If we are weak in one area, we can develop it through study, through prayer, through exercising these principles.

Our muscles reach their potential when we exercise them. It’s the same for our faith and our righteousness. We only grow spiritually when we use our spirituality. We only develop stronger character, when we use the character we have righteously.

In order to reach our full potential as a society, we need to develop these attributes and principles. We need to cultivate them in our lives. Do you think you are living the life God has in store for you? I don’t think God wants us sitting around watching television or playing games all day. I don’t think this life is about being amused. We have been blessed with an incredible amount. What are we doing with those blessings? I think we don’t recieve alot of what we could because we haven’t prepared ourselves or our lives for what we could have.

Do you have family disputes? Do what you can to end them with righteous action, forgiveness, and love.

Do you have financial problems? Are you spending your money wisely or just blowing it on whatever catches your fancy in that moment?

Do you have issues with food? Do you eat too much, too little? Are you obsessed with dieting? What are the Spiritual principles behind health and fitness of our bodies? Are you living them?

Are you being honest with your employer? Are you doing the job you were hired to do, or are you spending too much time on the internet? Do you work hard or hardly work?

Are you a happy person? Are you mean to others? Are you treating others as if you are better than them? Are you jealous of others? Do you think this is what God for your life?

I think we should stop recognizing the potential we have and instead start trying to achieve it. Opportunities will arise when we are being proactive in looking for them. We need to grow in good and godly principles. Because if we don’t develop these principles we will stumble and may destroy ourselves and impede our power to grow.

I know, my thoughts are kind of scattered tonight. This is something we each need to do in our lives. We talk about rights, but we don’t talk about the responsibilities that come with those rights. Maybe it’s time we did.



  1. It’s ringing in my ears, “Faith without works is dead.” from James. This blog screams this message.
    Yet I can’t help but get the feeling that this is pointing to oneself a bit. I see how you mentioned “it takes God’s grace to do so,” which is true.
    But I have a feeling, and call me crazy, that you are dwelling on works a lot more and beating yourself up about it.
    I could be wrong…feel free to call me out! 🙂
    The reason faith without works is dead, is because it doesn’t glorify God in the least. If we love Him, we will toil for Him, but all to bring glory to God. If we worship God and love Him and obey, all things will be alright!
    We do need to try harder and we do need to do more to progress the gospel! We also need to remember to first worship in all we do, and not just do.

  2. I have to agree that the individual is key, however individuals learn their behavior and actions from their culture. As individuals our frame work for how we see and interact with the world is set by the culture we are born into. It’s a chicken and the egg kind of thing. If I’m born into a culture that prizes strength I will work extremely hard to be strong and treat those that don’t with suspicion. If my culture values charity I will have a tendency to be charitable. It is hard to separate the person from the culture.

  3. Ah but we effect our culture as well. And that’s what I am hoping we do. We become proactive and influence positive change on the culture. Go from a culture of corruption to a culture of charity.

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