By Suzette Smith

The Gospel Doctrine lesson #40 manual objective is “To encourage class members to develop the characteristics of true followers of Jesus Christ.”

Our Objective

To encourage the development of Christ-like attributes – for both men and women. And to strength testimonies in the saving power of Jesus Christ.


In the 13th Article of Faith we read, “we believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous…if there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” These Christ-like attributes are ones we should seek and develop as His disciples.

Also in this verse, we find the declaration: “we follow the admonition of Paul”. In today’s lesson, the class will review several letters of Paul: Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon, where Paul admonishes the Saints to develop Christ-like attributes.

Other attributes are listed in Colossians 3:12-15: mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, forbearance, forgiveness, charity, peace, and gratitude. Paul calls these the attributes of the “elect of God”. As we strive to be numbered among the “elect”, we should strive to develop these attributes.

It can be noted that these Christ-like attributes are gender-neutral. At times we want to assign certain virtues to women (ie: nurturing, kindness, faithfulness) and other virtues to men (ie: bravery, dutiful, strength) – in reality we should all (both men and women) be trying to develop all of these virtues/attributes. We are striving to follow the example of our Savior, who possessed all virtues.

Any number of these attributes can be discussed in class, and I have chose three: unity, humility, and sacrifice.


In Philippians 2:2–3, we read that we should have the “same love, being of accord, and one mind” and that we should “each esteem other better than” ourselves. And Colossians 2:2 we read that our hearts should be “knit together in love”. Unity is obviously important in the kingdom of God.

This is one reason I like worshiping in assigned wards. We don’t get to choose the people we worship with, but we are asked to love one another, serve each other, and be unified. Developing this unification with people we may not like is hard – but our efforts will bring us closer to Christ. Each ward has a variety of members with a variety of views on life style, gospel commitment, gender bias, and politics. As we get to know each other better and open our hearts to different types of people, we grow.

Finally, forgiveness is an important part of being unified. We will need to forgive our fellow saints of their sins, mistakes, and give grace when we don’t understand behavior. Paul encourages Philemon to be forgiving toward Onesimus – and we can learn from this counsel in the book of Philemon.


Philippians 2:5–8 speaks of humility. Jesus, himself, was the perfect example of humility not only in submitting to the will of His Father, but in the way he lived: simply.

Pope Francis recently addressed Catholic church leadership and members in New York City at the St. Patrick Cathedral. (You can find his speech on YouTube here. He begins speaking at the 20 minute mark.) He spoke beautifully about living in a humble, simple way – as well as the virtues of gratitude, hard work, and sacrifice. He encourage people to remember their many blessings and their beautiful encounters with Jesus Christ. He warned us not to get caught up in our own good works or seek outward success, but rather to let our work been seen by God and evaluated in his eyes. He cautioned us not to seek worldly comforts because they block our encounters with God and alienate us from people who suffer material poverty.


Paul speaks of sacrifice in both Philippians 3:7–8 and Philippians 3:9–12.

And the Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things” (Lectures on Faith [1985], 69).

We also covenant to sacrifice while in the temple.

Whether we commit to sacrifice our will or curtail our earthly possessions, it is a hard thing to do. We must fight against the natural man/women in order to give freely. But as we do sacrifice the things of this world, we draw closer to spiritual things and to our Savior.


One of the most beautiful scriptures in the New Testament is Paul in Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”. Christ’s atonement is not only for comfort and forgiveness, it also gives us strength and courage and resolve.

We are able to move through the challenges of our mortal existence with confidence when we claim the atonement of Christ. And we can accomplish all that is needful for our salvation.

Related Mormon Women Project Interviews

Tis A Gift to Be Simple, Rachel Whipple

My idea is to show that these simple things – like how you do your laundry, how you take care of your home, how you feed your family – are not extreme, and they make our lives better and they’re in line with the gospel teachings. As we walk more, we know our neighbors and we’re building more of a sense of Zion and community and that’s incredibly valuable. I want to show people that they can do these things. It’s not that hard to add a bike ride with your family if you’ve already got the bikes. If you don’t have the bikes, it’s not that hard to go for a family walk. When you do that you’re spending time together that’s qualitatively different than when you are riding in a car together and everyone is watching their little videos that pop down from the ceiling or playing on their Gameboy devices. I think we’ve forgotten we can do that. Let’s start doing that again.

To Always Serve and Love, Bérengère Doby

I’ve always had an altruistic personality. I’ve always loved going to people and helping them. Even my husband says, “Stop already!” But I don’t. Sometimes I go over the top in serving and helping people. Being close the patients was a way for me to put that service into practice by taking care of them and to giving them lots of love.

School, Sacrifice, and Service, Rachel Esplin Odell

Of course, it’s not only our family relationships that matter. Our relationships with all of our brothers and sisters in the world matter. That’s part of what drew me to working in international affairs in the first place. But I think in international affairs, there can be too much of a tendency to prioritize people and issues on some faraway continent while neglecting the people that we interact with in our daily lives and the issues in our home communities. I’ve seen examples in my life that have taught me that you need to be a good, Christ-like person in your interactions with people right around you too, not just on the other side of the world.

Other Related Women’s Voices

Strength in the Savior, Chieko N. Okazaki

I believe the strength we need can always be there because it comes from the Savior and his love. Sometimes our own faith enables us to draw on that love. Sometimes it is the faith and love of others that strengthen us. We do not know the challenges and adversities that life will give us. But the scriptures promise us that “with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37), and we can say with the Apostle Paul, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philip. 4:13).

We Are Women of God, Sheri L. Dew

The Lord revealed the remedy for such spiritual disaster when He counseled Emma Smith to “lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better” (D&C 25:10). And Christ provided the pattern, declaring prior to Gethsemane, “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33; emphasis added). The only way that we may overcome the world is by coming unto Christ. And coming unto Christ means walking away from the world. It means placing Christ and Christ only at the center of our lives so that the vanities and philosophies of men lose their addictive appeal. Satan is the god of Babylon, or this world. Christ is the God of Israel, and His Atonement gives us power to overcome the world.