Conditions of becoming 'lost and found'
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In Gospel Ideals, President David O. McKay wrote of "three parables of the lost and found," and discussed the conditions that contributed to the sheep, a coin, and a son becoming lost.
1. The parable of the lost sheep. (Luke 15:4.)
President McKay commented: "How did that sheep get lost? He was not rebellious. If you follow the comparison, the lamb was seeking its livelihood in a perfectly legitimate manner, but either stupidly, perhaps unconsciously, it followed the enticement of the field, the prospect of better grass until it got out beyond the fold and was lost.
"So we have those in the Church, young men and young women, who wander away from the fold in perfectly legitimate ways. They are seeking success, success in business, success in their professions, and before long they become disinterested in Church and finally disconnected from the fold; they have lost track of what true success is. . . ."
He explained that true success is defined not by how well one does in business or other pursuits, but by how well one keeps the commandments and follows gospel principles.
2. The parable of the lost coin. (Luke 15:8-10.)
"In this case the thing lost was not in itself responsible," President McKay noted. "The one who had been trusted with that coin had, through carelessness or neglect, mislaid it or dropped it. There is a difference. Our charge is not only coins, but also living souls of children, youth, and adults. They are our charges. . . . Let us see that each one does his duty. Someone may be wandering because of the careless remark of a girl of her age in Mutual . . . and the president of the Mutual lets her go, fails to follow her next Tuesday night and invite her to come. Another may be lost because of the inactivity of the Sunday School teacher or the indifference of the Sunday School teacher who is satisfied with the fifteen people there that morning, instead of thinking of the fifteen who are wandering because of neglect.
"Our responsibility is to keep the trust that God has reposed in us, calling us to guard these precious souls."
3. The parable of the prodigal son. (Luke 15:11-32.)
"Here is a case of volition, here is choice, deliberate choice." President McKay noted. "Here is, in a way, rebellion against authority. And what did he do? He spent his means in riotous living; he wasted his portion with harlots. That is the way they are lost.
"Youth who start out to indulge their appetites and passions are on the downward road to apostasy as sure as the sun rises in the east. I do not confine it to youth; any man or woman who starts out on that road of intemperance, of dissolute living will separate himself or herself from the fold as inevitably as darkness follows the day. . . .
"In such cases there is little we can do but warn and plead until the recreant, as the prodigal son, at last `comes to himself. . . . '
"I wish I could say to every young man in this Church, that if you would be successful, if you would be happy, if you would conserve your strength, intellectual, physical, and spiritual, you will resist temptation to indulge your appetites and your passions. That is gospel truth - indulgence does not strengthen youth or manhood; restraint and self-control do. That is psychologically sound, because, instead of expending your energy as animals, self-control gives you more power and energy to expend intellectually and spiritually. Chastity strengthens manhood.
"He is unwise who starts out as the prodigal son to waste in riotous living the substance which God has given him in physical manhood and intellectuality."