After receiving widespread praise and acclaim for his work in the anti-apartheid struggle and for forgiving those who imprisoned him for 27 years, Nelson Mandela would often say, “I’m no saint — that is, unless you think a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying.”
It was on this reassuring knowledge that saints are sinners who keep on trying that Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Seventy based his address in the Saturday afternoon session of general conference address.
“God cares a lot more about who we are, and who we are becoming, than about who we once were,” Elder Renlund said. “He cares that we keep on trying.” Because of this, members should continue to strive to live the doctrine of Christ — exercising faith, repenting, making and renewing the covenant of baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost as a constant companion.
Satan would have men believe that their sins are too great to be forgiven, causing them to give up on trying to live the gospel, Elder Renlund said. “In His mercy, God promises forgiveness when we repent and turn from wickedness — so much so, that our sins will not even be mentioned to us. No matter how wicked, we can say, ‘That’s who I was. But that past wicked self is no longer who I am.’ ”
Oftentimes, others’ sins can cause one to suffer innocently, Elder Renlund said. “As God encourages us to keep on trying, He expects us to also allow others the space to do the same, at their own pace.”
After apartheid ended in South Africa, some Church members struggled with integrating black and white congregations, Elder Renlund said. Thoba, a black convert, vented to her mother, Julia, about the mistreatment she felt from white members one day at Church. Her mother said, “Oh, Thoba. The Church is like a big hospital and we are all sick in our own way. We come to Church to be helped.”
“My invitation to all of us is to evaluate our lives, repent and keep on trying,” Elder Renlund said. “If we don’t try, we’re just latter-day sinners; if we don’t persevere, we’re latter-day quitters; and if we don’t allow others to try, we’re just latter-day hypocrites. As we try, persevere, and help others to do the same, we are true Latter-day Saints.”