27 May 2011

"All Things Must Be Done in Order," Mosiah 4:24-30

Mosiah 4:24-30

In these verse, King Benjamin has a few more words to say in regards to caring for the poor. These words however are curious in that he is addressing those who are poor (in material goods) and how they ought to approach charitable giving. He concludes that group of verses by say that "all things should be done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man run faster than he has strength." He goes on to say that diligence is required, concluding that "all things must be done in order." (verse 27)

At the end of the chapter, King Benjamin makes an impassioned plea to avoid sin in all its forms. The responsibility is ultimately individual. "Watch yourselves." The footnote leads to Deuteronomy 4:9(6-9), wherein Moses is reminding the children of Israel the distinct advantage that they have over all other nations. He asks them, "For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for?"(Duet 4:7). His concluding argument in recognizing the blessings and companionship of the Lord is that each must "take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life,"(Duet 4:9).

The gospel of Christ, when fully understood, causes us to be a self-regulating people.  This morning as I study the scripture, there is a desire within me to be more careful in my thoughts, actions, and behaviors. This is because I have taken the time to remember the blessings that are upon me. It is partly a desire to express gratitude. It is partly a sense of duty.

The greatest blessing of discipleship can only be had by choosing to believe, choosing to live and so be that I am in harmony with God's Holy Spirit. These are the perks, privileges, benefits and blessings of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. It makes no sense to only go half way in these endeavors, because the full blessings of Christian discipleship are what we really seek.

16 May 2011

"No Interest in the Kingdom of God," Mosiah 4:16-23

Mosiah 4:16-23

On the topic of charitable giving, these verses address erroneous attitudes towards the poor.

It is commonplace, at least in my own experience, to rationalize away every petition for charitable assistance. There are some interesting diagnosis of this type of attitude. What strikes me as even more profoundly important is that an attitude of neglect towards the poor is in direct defiance to the work of God:
  • "Whosoever [jugdeth the poor] the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God." (vs. 18, emphasis added)
  • "Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished." (Proverbs 17:5, emphasis added)
Isaiah 58 is for me one of the most inspiring chapters on charitable giving that is found in holy writ, for it helps me to see the blessing or the fruits that come from engaging in such activities. One of the promises that is extended is that we shall be called "the restorer[s] of paths to dwell in." That strikes me as profoundly significant. As the natural state of things is to fall apart, to decay, to be destroyed, the purpose and objective of the kingdom of God then must be to build up, to edify, to bring to an inhabitable and productive state, that which was lost and that which is yet to be established.  This is significant on two levels, both in the outward environs that surround us, but more importantly, within us.

So it becomes our objective to build up everyone. The poor are the same as the well-to-do. All are equal in God's eyes. Hence, very conclusively, King Benjamin declares that if you look past the poor (the lowest rung of the ladder), then you have no interest in the Kingdom of God.

05 May 2011

"Ye will... have a mind... to live peacably," Mosiah 4:13-15

Mosiah 4:13-15

There are indicators in the Gospel of Jesus Christ that allow us to gauge our spiritual progress. These verses from Mosiah are particularly useful for such measurement. What is difficult, however, is to find the motivation to change what doesn't line up with these standards.

The Savior's beatitude in Matthew 5:6 is a starting point.  "Blessed are those that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." Those that desire it, that hunger and thirst for righteousness, they are they that are filled and find even that which they were not looking for. As I have visited with those around me and as I consider my own exertions to change and repent, I realize that this is indeed very hard to do.

However, in the realization that most often we are naturally inclined to turn away from repentance and change, I am coming to realize how a young high councilor once was able to encourage me to make sure I was working as hard as I could. It seemed to me to be a very bold thing at the time, that someone I did hardly know, would have the audacity to encourage me to serve to the very best of my capacity.

Ironically, as I consider (in my current state as a father) the things that King Benjamin is asking us to do, they are hard things:
  • Don't hurt others. (Don't resort to techniques of force or physical coercion.)
  • Live peaceably. (Something that requires conscientious effort.)
  • Be honest with everyone. (The more engaged in this wicked world that we are, the harder that is.)
  • Feed your children. (This isn't merely the financial obligation. It many times has to do with the actually preparing of food.)
  • Cloth your children. (Here the work includes cleaning clothes, encouraging/helping them to get dressed in the mornings. )
  • Encourage/ direct them to keep the commandments. (Another never ending task...)
  • Don't allow children to fight or quarrel with each other. (The tendency to fight and quarrel is a natural response. But as we teach our children to do the hard things everyday, are we not preparing to live a lifetime of improvement as well? )
 Verse 15 then details the direction to go in our parenting:
But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.
Paranthetically, this reminds me of when the prophet Mormon first received his instructions to take charge of the Nephite records. He was only 10 years old at the time when he received his commission from Ammaron. At that time Ammaron said, "I perceive that thou art a sober child, and art quick to observe."(Mormon 1:2)

I am in need of taking time to understand how to teach the children to walk in the ways of truth and soberness.  This is an assignment that will require much more work on my part.