23 And I did read many things unto them which were written in the books of Moses; but that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah; for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.
24 Wherefore I spake unto them, saying: Hear ye the words of the prophet, ye who are a remnant of the house of Israel, a branch who have been broken off; hear ye the words of the prophet, which were written unto all the house of Israel, and liken them unto yourselves, that ye may have hope as well as your brethren from whom ye have been broken off; for after this manner has the prophet written.
(1 Nephi 19:23-24)
To “liken” means to point out the resemblance between two things. When Nephi says that he “did liken all scriptures unto us” and when he encouraged his brothers to “liken them unto yourselves,” he was trying to point out that the scriptures are not merely a collection of stories or abstract concepts, disconnected from our daily reality. Rather, they provide instructions and guidance which we can apply to the decisions we make every day.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf quoted from this passage to emphasize that we should do something about what we learn from the scriptures, church leaders, and the Holy Ghost:
The words written in the scriptures and spoken in general conference are for us to “liken them unto [ourselves],” not for reading or hearing only. Too often we attend meetings and nod our heads; we might even smile knowingly and agree. We jot down some action points, and we may say to ourselves, “That is something I will do.” But somewhere between the hearing, the writing of a reminder on our smartphone, and the actual doing, our “do it” switch gets rotated to the “later” position. Brethren, let’s make sure to set our “do it” switch always to the “now” position!
As you read the scriptures and listen to the words of the prophets with all your heart and mind, the Lord will tell you how to live up to your priesthood privileges. Don’t let a day go by without doing something to act on the promptings of the Spirit (“Your Potential, Your Privilege,” General Conference, April 2011).
Near the end of a two-year mission in Chile 27 years ago, I read the following passage from the New Testament which impacted me profoundly:
For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was (James 1:23-24).
I thought a lot about those verses in subsequent weeks. I did not want to be the guy decribed by James, who saw his potential, who knew what he needed to do to achieve it, and then flippantly walked away. I promised myself that I would retain the progress I had made in two years of service and would build on the foundation of character I had begun to lay during those two years. I vividly remember my determination to be a doer of the word, not merely a hearer, to be a participant, not merely a spectator.
Today, I will act on the principles I have learned and the guidance I have received. I will be a doer of the word, not just a hearer. I will liken the scriptures unto myself, so that the time I spend interacting with them can be for my profit and learning.