9 The show of their countenance doth witness against them, and doth declare their sin to be even as Sodom, and they cannot hide it. Wo unto their souls, for they have rewarded evil unto themselves!
(2 Nephi 13:9, Isaiah 3:9)
We might think that some of our decisions, some of our actions or thoughts, are hidden, that no one needs to know about them. In reality, every one of our decisions makes a mark on us. In the aggregate, our decisions shape us and mold us. When Alma asked, “Have ye received his image in your countenances?” (Alma 5:13), he was acknowledging this same principle. By our decisions, we can receive the grace of God, which transforms us into His image (2 Corinthians 3:18). But our decisions which turn us away from God are also imprinted on our countenances. We are free to choose, but we are not free to choose the consequences of those choices (“For the Strength of Youth,” “Agency and Accountability“), including how those choices change us.
As Elder Dallin H. Oaks has taught, “The Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts—what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become” (“The Challenge to Become,” General Conference, October 2000). No wonder “they cannot hide” their sin! Perhaps our lives won’t be displayed on a screen, like a movie or a reality show. Perhaps one look at our faces is all that God will need (and all that we will need) to know what level of glory we are prepared to receive.
Today, I will remember that the choices I make, even the seemingly hidden ones, are changing me and affecting who I am becoming. I will remember that those decisions may be more visible than I realize, particularly in their effect on me over time. I will strive to choose righteously in private as well as in public, knowing that, eventually, “the show of my countenance” will testify of whom I have become, and that, in the end, “[I] cannot hide it.”