Small Choices, Big Consequences


By Elder Massimo De Feo| August 2019 Ensign

Choices and consequences — you can’t have one without the other…EVER!  Good or bad, choices are always followed by consequences.  

Having agency is one of life’s greatest blessings.  The freedom to choose was given to us before the world was created (D&C 93:29–31).  The mere fact that we are here living on the earth is due to the choice we made to follow Jesus Christ in premortality.  Our moral agency was opposed by Satan, but it was authorized by God and by both ancient and modern-day prophets.  We are free to develop our faith in Jesus Christ and to follow His commandments the best that we can…or not.  Either way, a consequence of our choice will follow.

When I made a choice to enter the waters of baptism, I was overjoyed and full of faith and enthusiasm.  I made it my mission to be entirely and perfectly faithful to the end of my life.  Considering how I felt at that time, I didn’t think it would be a challenging thing to do.  And then temptations came along.

Sometimes it became difficult, and my faith was tried many times.  I learned quickly about the impact of my choices and the consequences that followed, especially in terms of the gospel.  I also learned about the blessings of remaining faithful when we make good, moral, ethical, and righteous choices.  My experiences led me to understand that happiness and peace of mind come when we follow Christ and His teachings every day.  

I’m thankful for my experiences.  They strengthen me and help me to grow in the gospel.  I am especially grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  I understand that I must suffer the consequences of my bad choices; however, it’s so comforting to know that when I make choices that may not have been in harmony with the gospel of Jesus Christ, that I can repent and start again.

Although the story below is not mine, I have had similar experiences–which is why I wanted to share it with you.  ~Emilia Julian

How will we respond when the world asks, “Don’t you also want to go?”

Ever since I was a little boy, I have always loved the New Testament. I love to read about the Savior teaching His disciples eternal principles that changed their lives forever.

I also find it fascinating how those same principles have changed my personal life in so many ways. Again and again, I have seen that when we apply the Master’s teachings, our own decisions, even small ones, often lead to big consequences.

My “Small” Choice

Many years ago, as a brand new manager, I traveled to South America to attend an important work seminar held by high-ranking officials of the government agency I worked for.

The very first night at the end of the conference, the “big boss” of the agency announced a special activity for that night. Sure that everyone would appreciate his proposal, he proclaimed proudly: “To show you how much we appreciate you, tonight we invite all of you to a special night out, visiting the bars in the city, famous for a special cocktail drink. We will all taste the different variations of that drink and vote which bar makes the best version. There will be a contest and a winner. And don’t worry, it’s all on me, my special treat for you.”

As everyone applauded his plan, he added a rhetorical question: “Anyone not coming? Say it now or never!”

As everyone applauded again, I thought how embarrassing it would be to say anything in front of all those people, to contradict the boss’s expectation that this was an incredible offer.

Nevertheless, in a matter of seconds I decided what to do. I raised my hand, the only one who did. Then, in an intimidating way, he asked what I had to say. I had never heard a silence so loud before in my life!

I said: “Sir, I thank you for your generous offer, but I will not join you all tonight.”

After another silence, even more silent than I thought possible, he asked, “Why?” In that moment, I could have come up with some good excuses—that I was sick or had an important phone call to make to the other side of the world or any other reason that would have saved me from obvious embarrassment. But I said the simple truth, that as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I don’t drink alcohol.

“We’ll Have Fun without You”

After pondering for a moment, he finally said, “Then we will have fun without you.” And to the others, he said, “Follow me. Let’s go have fun! Let’s leave him alone.”

I still remember the echoes of their laughs as they were leaving the conference room and I was left by myself. I realized that many times, choosing the Lord is, as President Thomas S. Monson (1927–2018) taught, all about choosing “the harder right instead of the easier wrong,” even at the risk of being left alone.

As I walked to my room, I remember hearing a distinct voice in my mind: “Don’t you also want to go?” I was taken aback for a moment, but then suddenly, the words of Simon Peter to the Savior came to my mind. To that same question, he replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

With feelings of new peace, I felt as if I was surrounded by angels bearing me up. Although I was alone, I didn’t feel alone. As I chose the Lord and stood for my principles, I saw that when we choose the Lord, we may be left alone in the world, but the Savior will never abandon us.

Small but Big

The decisions we make every day may seem small, but they always have real implications and big consequences, for good or bad.

In fact, a few years after that eventful day, the same boss visited our office in Rome. He was still the same man, full of power and authority. Again, he looked intimidating to all of us.

This time, after all the meetings, he approached me in a different way. He was surprisingly kind. He told me that he still remembered the day when I stood for my beliefs. Then, to my surprise, he asked if I would accept to become the manager of the agency for all of Europe, which was a huge opportunity for my career. As he tried to convince me that the new job would be appealing in terms of salary, travel, and benefits, what really made the difference was when he said: “We look not only at good qualifications. We need people with integrity, who stand for their principles. We need people like you.”

I was surprised to hear those words, to see that my small decision to stand for my beliefs years before eventually had such a big impact on him. My small decision ultimately resulted in a great blessing for me, both temporally and spiritually. Ironically, as part of my new assignment, I also became the supervisor of most of the managers who had laughed at me years before.

The Correct Choice

President Monson said, “As we contemplate the decisions we make in our lives each day—whether to make this choice or that choice—if we choose Christ, we will have made the correct choice.”

The Apostle Paul also taught that choosing the Lord is always the best possible choice, despite how hard that choice can be: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28).

Every day, the choices we make will indeed determine what we will become. If we choose the Lord, as President Monson said, “we will have made the correct choice,” because, as Paul remarked, “all things work together for good to them that love God.”

Many times we hesitate to make the right choices because we try to please the Lord without offending Satan. But we cannot please God without upsetting Satan. We simply cannot serve two masters. Our ultimate decision will always be whether to live the first two commandments in the right priority: To serve God first and then our neighbor, or to put the second commandment before the first by trying to please others before we please God (see Matthew 22:37-39).

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