Today, I’ve been pondering the Testimony of Three Witnesses and the Testimony of Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon. In both cases, I’m impressed with their earnestness and with their courage.
Witnesses share what they know, not what other people want to hear. Witnesses are not entertainers, and they are not salespeople. Their objective is to share what they have learned by direct experience, for the benefit of people who have not had those experiences. It is up to the listeners to evaluate the credibility of their testimony.
Both sets of witnesses of the Book of Mormon use the phrase “in words of soberness” to describe their testimony. Soberness is “a mental state free of jesting or trifling” (Merriam-Webster). There is no room for sarcasm or cleverness in the bearing of pure testimony. Sincerity is imperative, even at the risk of being perceived as unsophisticated or naive. An honest witness is focused on the facts, not on the likely reaction of their audience.
One of the promises we make as disciples of Jesus Christ is “to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in” (Mosiah 18:8). Like the witnesses of the Book of Mormon, we are under obligation to share the things that we know to be true. As the Three Witnesses conceded, the things they had seen were “marvelous”—astonishing, hard to believe. They must have known their testimony would be ridiculed by some. “Nevertheless,” they wrote, “the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things.” As Joseph Smith would later write about his First Vision, “I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God” (Joseph Smith—History 1:25).
I will follow the examples of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon in stating clearly and sincerely the things I know to be true. I will remember that God expects me to share what I know with courage and with soberness.