“The real task at Christmas is to etch that Spirit of Christ in our hearts,” Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said during a Christmas luncheon sponsored by the Salt Lake Chapter of the BYU Management Society.
Held in the Little America Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City on Dec. 5, the annual event brought chapter members and business leaders together to hear a Christmas message from Elder Stevenson.
“In my previous professional life, I was involved in the development, manufacturing, and marketing of fitness equipment, both aerobic and anaerobic,” he said. “Aerobic equipment, like treadmills, stationary bikes and elliptical machines — products designed to strengthen the heart.”
Elder Stevenson explained that his company went to great efforts to allow users of the equipment to measure the condition and activity levels of their heart. Whether embedded on the machine or through wearable technology, the equipment was developed to provide feedback associated with a person’s heart.
“Imagine for a moment what if there was a way to measure the condition of one’s heart in a spiritual context, as outlined in the scriptures?” he asked. “How would we do? What would the ‘heart monitor’ say to us if it were monitoring our spiritual hearts? It seems if we profess to be disciples of Jesus Christ, then His love must be written in our hearts.”
Drawing from the scriptures, Elder Stevenson shared the words of Paul to the Corinthians in the New Testament where it reads, “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart” (2 Corinthians 3:2-3).
“The true epistle of our lives is not found on a Facebook, blog or Instagram post, or it may not even be recorded in our journals with ink. Our epistle is found in our hearts, placed there partially by our desires and intentions, but more fully by our deeds,” he said.
True happiness comes through the spirit of Christ, which encourages brotherly love, kindness, friendship and service.
Recognizing that Christmas seems to be an appropriate time to contemplate the health of a person’s heart, Elder Stevenson invited listeners to consider how he or she might monitor the health, vitality and activity of their spiritual hearts.
“You may consider some of your daily behavior as your ‘heart rate monitor’ — a metric of the health of your virtual spiritual heart,” he said.
Quoting the words of President Howard W. Hunter shared during the First Presidency Christmas Devotional in 1994, Elder Stevenson continued:
“Mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in work and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love and then speak it again.”
Elder Stevenson also shared personal Christmas memories from his youth. Although he remembers some of the gifts he has received over the years, what stands out to him are the memories of the gifts he has given.
Whether it was as a youth compiling Christmas baskets for the widows and other members of his ward, or the tradition he and his wife started when they became parents of providing Christmas to a family in need, the memories of gifts provided a joyful feeling in his heart.
“As President Monson has taught, ‘To catch the real meaning of the spirit of Christmas, we need only drop the last syllable, and it becomes the Spirit of Christ,’ ” he said.
Elder Stevenson also shared what President Benson once stated in December 1985: “Without Christ there would be no Christmas, without Christ there can be no fullness of joy.”
Because of the knowledge of a Savior, all people are able to experience a fullness of joy.
The greatest gift a person can give, Elder Stevenson said, is “the reflection of the love we feel for the Savior that could be manifest in our thoughts and our words and — maybe most important — in our deeds that come straight from our hearts.”