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Action Words

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Sometimes the way the Lord uses verbs, or action words, is very specific and powerful. Look for words that describe actions, what people are doing or to do, etc. Ponder why the Lord chose such language and not another similar but different word.

Look For: Look for the words that are action words--that describes what someone or something is doing, etc.

Example: John 14:15 "If you love me, keep the commandments. Why not honor, obey, etc? Why did the Lord use the word "keep"? The use of this word should make us reflect on how we view the commandments. Do we obey them or follow them because they are a duty or "have-to's" for us? Or do we feel personally about them, like they were a treasure that we want to guard or protect from being broken. In Portuguese, the verb for this verse is guardar, which means to guard or protect. Do I "keep" the commandments out of love and devotion to the Lord, or do I view the commandments as requirements and distant from my heart?

Sometimes I have my students underline action words that show a characteristic of a person in the scriptures. For example, when teaching Luke 19, I said, "Look at verses 3-6 and mark the words that show that Zacchaeus was very anxious to see the Lord."

You can use this technique with adjectives and adverbs, too. Look specifically for how the Lord describes something or someone.

Look For: Look for words that describe someone or something, or that indicate the extent to which action was taken.

Example: Adjectives--D&C 138:12-24 Mark all the words and phrases that describe the righteous spirits Jesus visited in the afterlife. Then do the same for the wicked, to whom he did not visit. Righteous = gathered, just, faithful in the testimony of Jesus, offered sacrifice, suffered tribulation, firm in the hope, filled with joy and gladness, rejoicing, assembled, etc Wicked = ungodly, unrepentant, had defiled themselves, rebellious, rejected the testimonies and warnings of the prophets, did not look upon Jesus' face, darkness reigned, etc. These descriptions help us realize what type of attitude and behavior we have to have to be wicked or righteous.

3 Nephi 17:5 When the Savior was about to leave the people, the people looked at him which encouraged Him to stay. Well, how did they look at Him that made Him want to stay. The verse says "steadfastly." Imagine in your mind what that means to steadfastly look at the Savior "as if they would ask him to tarry." Where were all their eyes focused on? What direction was each face? What was their body language communicating? Makes us wonder why the Savior isn't more often present in our meetings with people looking everywhere but the speaker, their minds elsewhere, their body language communicating boredom. How could we more steadfastly look at our Savior? D&C 88:67-68.

(Adapted from Panning for Gold: Various Methods to Understand and Apply the Scriptures to Ourselves by Eric Bacon, Northwest Area Seminaries)


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