Wisdom, Stature, Favor with God and Man

Luke gives us two brief status updates on the growth of Jesus between stories of His infancy and childhood:

  1. “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40).
  2. “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52).

Although the two passages are similar, the second one has received a lot more attention from church leaders over the years. President Thomas S. Monson alone quoted it in nine of his general conference talks.

The Children and Youth Program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints uses this verse as its motto. Young people are encouraged to set goals in four areas: intellectual (“wisdom”), physical (“stature”), spiritual (“favour with God”), and social (“favor with man”).

In the Book of Mormon, we read about a group of 2,000 impressive young men, children of people who were converted by the preaching of the sons of Mosiah. Mormon tells us why these young men, known as the “sons of Helaman,” were so effective on the battlefield:

They were all young men, and they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all—they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted.

Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him.

Alma 53:20-21

Just like Luke’s description of Jesus, Mormon emphasized the capabilities of these young men in multiple domains: “courage,” “strength and activity,” trustworthiness, and obedience to God’s commandments.

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf reminded us that “our children and youth are invited to grow in a balanced way as they follow Jesus Christ.” Using an analogy of a bicycle, he observed that “staying balanced is all about moving forward” (“Our Heartfelt All,” General Conference, April 2022).

The balanced growth described in this verse is not only applicable to young people. Elder Robert L. Backman also recommended it as a framework for retirees. (See “The Golden Years,” General Conference, October 1992).

And Elder David A. Bednar has encouraged us to think about emergency preparedness in a similar way:

Our efforts to prepare for the proving experiences of mortality should follow the example of the Savior, who incrementally “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man”—a blended balance of intellectual, physical, spiritual, and social readiness.

We Will Prove Them Herewith,” General Conference, October 2020

We’ve had a wonderful holiday season, with several of our children visiting for a number of weeks. Today, as our last visitors fly home, is a good time for me to think about regaining some balance in my life. I’ll spend some time thinking about the four dimensions outlined in Luke’s verse and set goals for my own physical, intellectual, social, and spiritual health and growth. I will also encourage family members to set similar goals.

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