When Alma organized the church at the waters of Mormon, he ordained priests to teach the people. What were they to teach? The same things he had taught, and the same things prophets before him had taught: “He commanded that they should preach nothing save it were repentance and faith on the Lord, who had redeemed his people” (Mosiah 18:20).
When Jesus organized His church on the American continent following His death and resurrection, the priests and teachers were given the same instruction. They were ordained “to preach repentance and remission of sins through Jesus Christ, by the endurance of faith on his name to the end” (Moroni 3:3).
President Russell M. Nelson said that this oft-repeated admonition prompts the following question: “Does everyone need to repent?” His answer: yes (“We Can Do Better and Be Better,” General Conference, April 2019).
The Greek word metanoeo (μετανοέω), literally means to change your mind. It means to think or perceive differently.
Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord said, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways…. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Since our goal is to become more like God, we must elevate our thoughts. President Nelson observed that the Lord has used many words to inspire this effort: “higher, holier, accelerate, increase, strengthen, greater, transform, remodel, improve, enhance, change, deepen, stretch” (“We Can Do Better and Be Better,” General Conference, April 2019, footnote 12). I would add to this list another word President Nelson has used repeatedly: “adjustment.” (See “Introductory Remarks,” General Conference, April 2018 and “Opening Remarks,” General Conference, October 2018.) Often, repentance consists of incremental improvement, not disruptive change.
When our thoughts improve, our behavior follows. When we perceive things more accurately, we make wiser decisions.
Today, I will repent. I will strive to think in a higher, holier way. I will remember that better thoughts lead to better actions and that elevating my thoughts will bring me closer to God.