Every day we make choices. Many of the choices we make have nothing to do with our spirituality - should we eat mashed potatoes or yams? Should I wear my black shoes or my brown shoes? It really makes no difference when it comes to our eternal salvation.
Other choices do make a difference, however. Should I watch the basketball game or go play outside with my kids? I'm so tired ... should I pray before going to bed or just go to bed and pray in the morning? These may seem small at the time, but they can have greater consequences.
So in all our decision making, we need to make sure our choices push us towards perfection ... towards the standard ... towards the Savior and our Heavenly Father.
Indeed we may miss an evening prayer or reading our scriptures for a day and we can rebound and say our prayers and read our scriptures the next day. But as soon as we become relaxed in the small things, we become more relaxed in the bigger things and we soon find ourselves on the slippery slope. Therefore, the more buffer we can put between ourselves and the edge of the slippery slope, the better off we are. And if at any time we find ourselves an inch closer than we ought to be, then we need to re-distance ourselves and redouble our vigilence.
I am reminded of a little story Elder Packer told several years ago.
"The story is told of a king who was choosing between two drivers for his coach. He ordered each of them to drive his coach down a steep, winding road cut into a high cliff.
"The first driver came down slowly, hugging the wall of the cliff. The second driver demonstrated great talent and ability. He raced down the mountain, with the coach so close at times that half the wheel was off the edge of the cliff.
"The king was very thoughtful, then wisely chose the first man to drive his coach. It is best to stay on the safe side of things." (Boyd K. Packer, “The Word of Wisdom: The Principle and the Promises,” Ensign, May 1996, 17)
So many in the world today "live on the edge" and are confident that they can veer so close yet not fall off. They seek to maximize how far they can "push it" to the edge and not fall off.
We too must maximize, but not to see how close we can come to the edge, but how far we can stay away from it. Interestingly enough, there is an edge or line on one side of the spiritual spectrum while on the opposite side lies a vast eternity of progression. So we really cannot maximize our length from the edge because there is no end. (see D&C 132:20)