Tuesday, April 12, 2016


Sister Neil F. Marriott posed a question in the title of her April 2016 General Conference talk: What Shall We Do? Many Christians, when faced with uncertainty about what to do, ask themselves "What would Jesus do?" However, when I pose that question to myself, I'm often left without a good answer. Knowing that Jesus is infinitely wise and considerate, I imagine that He would come up with the wisest course of action, and then to that. Other times, I find it impossible to answer the question "What would Jesus do if He were in this situation?" because Jesus wouldn't have gotten into that situation in the first place. Rather than asking "What would Jesus do?" Sister Marriott suggested another question, which I believe is a suitable, if not superior, alternative.
When we ask ourselves, “What shall we do?” let’s ponder this question: “What does the Savior do continually?” He nurtures. He creates. He encourages growth and goodness. Women and sisters, we can do these things!
Asking what Jesus does continually rather than what He would do in this case, specifically, invites us to think about the Savior in more general terms. Rather than wondering exactly what Jesus would say to a grieving friend, we can easily answer that Jesus would comfort them, and then we can try to follow His example, even if we don't do it as perfectly as He would have.

Also, I believe that asking ourselves what Jesus does rather than what He would do makes it easier for the Spirit to give us an inspired answer. It's harder to picture Jesus sitting in a classroom, trying to teach a group of rowdy Primary children, or if He would command their full attention, it's difficult to imagine how we might do the same. But it's easy to picture Jesus loving children with all His heart as He attempts to instruct them. It's easy to imagine Him using stories, analogies, or object lessons to teach people. We can even imagine Jesus dispensing snacks to His listeners. We can clearly picture Jesus doing these things because these are things that Jesus actually did.

When we ask ourselves what Jesus does or did do, we invite the Spirit to cast into our minds a recollection of a story or incident in the Bible that may help us. The Spirit may not be able to show us exactly what we should do (unless we're very attuned to the Spirit and are listening carefully), but He can show us what kind of thing we should do. This is true even in a case where we face a challenge that Jesus never faced in His mortal life. For example, Jesus never had to help a friend overcome an addition to internet pornography, but He did say to a woman taken in adultery "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more." Those may not be the exact words you'd want to use, but it may the the right attitude. Sometimes, you may need to use a firmer approach to one who persists in wrongdoing, and other times, you may need to use a gentler hand with one who persistently struggles. The Spirit can help you know which moment of the Savior's life would be best to emulate in that particular moment in your life.

We should always try to behave like Jesus Christ, but it can be hard to determine how Jesus Christ might behave in each specific situation. So, rather than asking what Jesus would do if He was in my position, I'm going to consider what He did and what He continually does. This may not give me the exact solution to my life's specific problems, but it will help the Spirit remind me of guidelines I can follow. If asking yourself what Jesus would do works for you, go ahead and keep doing that. But if you find that that question isn't as helpful as one might think, you might try asking yourself what Jesus did or does instead.


Barbara Robarts said...

I thought I was the only one that when presented with "What would Jesus do?" immediately thought, "He wouldn't have gotten Himself into this situation." I do like your shift on this!

Rozy Lass said...

My thoughts on WWJD go something like this, well, he would heal the person, (I can't do that), he would call them to repentance (that doesn't come across too well, I mean look where it got him), he would sit down and teach them, or bless them, or read their mind, or many other things that I simply can't or don't have the authority to do. So I generally ask myself, "What has Jesus asked me to do?" He asked me to love people, forgive them, give of my time and talents, teach when asked to do so (Feed my lambs and sheep), and so forth. I enjoyed Sister Marriott's address too. Especially her sweet accent which takes me back to my mission field in the deep South. I truly loved those Southerners.