Elder Neal A. Maxwell always had a powerful way with words. In April 1976, he bore a powerful witness of the Savior. Even though he qualified his remarks by warning that they would be “the verbal equivalent of a child’s enthusiastic finger painting—because my tongue cannot tell all I know.” Nevertheless, he rose above his mortal limitations to deliver a stirring testimony of Christ.
Elder Maxwell describes Christ as the greatest of all, and yet not prideful or arrogant. I loved this take on the Savior because it is a reminder that when we are wise or established by the standards of the world, we must overcome the natural inclination to boasting and thinking of oneself as superior. For me, that has been the biggest change in my character since joining the Church. Realizing that everyone else is a child of God striving to follow the light of Christ within them was incredibly liberating. Before, I would get so frustrated by the imperfections of others. Now, I can’t say that I am perfect in this respect, but I am certainly far more forgiving, patient and loving. I realize how much I fall short and need grace and therefore try to extend that grace to others.
I testify that in our first estate Jesus was the incomparable individual among all our Father’s spirit children. He helped to prepare this planet for us and led—not pushed—us from our premortal post. I thank him for the untold things he did, across the ages of that first estate, to prepare perfectly for his unique role—while I was doing so very much less. I thank him, further, for not deserting those of us who are slow or stragglers.
I testify that his intelligence is vastly superior in every field to the very brightest mortals in those fields and that his intellect in scope and truth far exceeds all human intellects. I thank him for encapsulating that exquisite mind in both perfect love and perfect humility. His brilliance is not the “catch-me-if-you-can” kind, but a pleading and patient, “Come, follow me.” (Luke 18:22.)
Christ also fully understood that we need the opportunity grow and make our own choices. We cannot be compelled to obey or to be good. I think this is a vital lesson to learn as a parent. I cannot compel my child to behave, but must encourage, teach and lead through example. I am grateful for the example of the savior who leads the way for me.
I testify that his premortal performance reflected both an astonishing selflessness and a breathtaking commitment to freedom as a condition of our genuine growth. I thank him for combining his long view of our needs with a short step forward to volunteer his services. Never has anyone offered so much to so many in so few words as when Jesus said, “Here am I, send me.” (Abr. 3:27.)
There is so much more depth and beauty in this incredible sermon. I am going to give a taste of a few more parts that I particularly enjoyed and encourage you to read it all:
I testify that he assisted in the creation and management not only of this planet, but other worlds. His grasp is galactic, yet he noticed the widow casting in her mite. I am stunned at his perfect, unconditional love of all. Indeed, “I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me.” (“I Stand All Amazed,” Hymns, no. 80.)
It is truly incredible that the creator of vast galaxies and planets nevertheless sees my every need. Incredible but true.
I thank him for his marvelous management of time, for never misusing a moment, including the moments of meditation. Even his seconds showed his stewardship.
This is something I know that I can do better. The example of the savior as always sets the way.
Last of all, I witness that he lives—with all that those simple words imply. I know I will be held accountable for this testimony; but, as hearers or readers, you are now accountable for my witness—which I give in the very name of Jesus Christ. Amen.