An Epiphany

3 03 2013

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I am a staunch capitalist.

I believe in the American dream, the one that says if you work hard and use your ingenuity, you can be financially successful.

I even majored in business when I went to college.

Perhaps it’s because of these personality traits that I’ve always struggled to understand the law of consecration. I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and this is pretty important in our religion. After the Church was first restored, the early Saints tried to live the law of consecration, with all things common among them.

It didn’t work.

The Lord took the mandate away, and allowed them to live a lesser law.

I’ve been taking an adult religion class for a couple of years now, and my instructor calls this “The Samuel Principle.” As I understand it, when Samuel was prophet during Old Testament times, the children of Israel wanted a king. Samuel tried to dissuade them, citing how having a wicked king led entire civilizations into wickedness, but the people held fast. “We want a king.” My teacher has pointed out that the Lord will give us what we want; however, when we choose to live the lesser law, we are only eligible for lesser blessings.

In our religion class right now, we’re studying the Doctrine and Covenants. As we talked about the law of consecration, there were several things I understood better than I had before. For instance, instead of my idea of “having all things common,” which was that you had to share everything with everybody, I learned that instead, everyone turned their original property over to the bishop. He then redistributed that according to the needs and wants of the people. Everyone was required to work. And it was not okay to go into someone’s house and take his pocket watch just because you fancied it would look nice with your waistcoat.

As we discussed this, I had an epiphany.

I thought about the law of consecration in a way I had never thought about it before–and it suddenly made sense to me.

The law of consecration works like a family.

Think about it for a minute. A family lives together. (Sometimes they fight.) Everyone works according to their ability. They each have their own space and their own possessions. The wealth is shared among the members of the family; sometimes Suzy takes more resources because she needs braces, and other times Bobby needs some extra to go on a band trip. Bobby isn’t mad at Suzy and Suzy isn’t mad at Bobby. They aren’t keeping score.

They both do their chores, helping the household run smoothly. Sometimes they want things, and Mom and Dad look at the budget and say, “Sorry, we don’t have money for that right now.” But because they all love each other (even though they sometimes fight), they want what’s best for each individual. They don’t begrudge something fortunate happening to someone else.

The law of consecration takes this concept to a much larger, grander scale, but I think the same principles apply.

I think the most important part is the “not keeping score” bit.

It’s hard for us as humans not to compare. My cousin had this quote on her wall years ago, and I’ve never forgotten it. I wish I could remember who said it so I could give proper credit to its author. It goes like this:

When we compare ourselves to others, we become either vain or bitter.

What’s the key, then, to getting to this place where we won’t compare ourselves with other people and begrudge them their good fortune? How can we prepare ourselves to live this higher law–and, in turn, receive greater blessings?

I think the answer to those questions lies in cultivating charity in our hearts.

“But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.” (Moroni 7:47-48)

I’ve still got a long way to go, but it’s nice to have some direction.

Happy Sabbath!

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2 responses

3 03 2013
Nicole White

Beautifully said. Such a simple analogy to explain such a big concept.

13 03 2013
Mrs. Olsen

This was so insightful Wendy. I just listened to an episode on the mormon channel that talked about the law of consecration, and I learned something new!

You can link into the episodes here
http://www.templestudy.com/2012/09/03/mormon-channel-episodes-law-consecration-united-order/

Here’s a quote from the episode:
We often hear, “The law is the higher law? The law of consecration is a higher law, and tithing is a lesser law because the Saints could not keep the higher law?” Some historians have called it the Mormon folk memory. It’s ubiquitous among us. Many of us have this understanding. But when we make sacred covenants, it is not this way, so it can be jarring. We have to think carefully. There is a theological problem if we say the Lord gave a law that the Saints could not keep. There are many passages that say the Lord does NOT do that. He may give laws that some Saints will not keep, but there is a big distinction. Agency is at stake. He gives laws to the Saints that they can choose to keep or not. He never calls it a higher law, or tithing a lower law. We made that up. As far as we can tell, it comes much later after Joseph Smith. It’s not in his vocabulary. Steven’s theory is that it came as the Saints look backwards, and tried to figure out why they weren’t doing what Joseph’s revelations tell us to do. Commentators on the revelations inject interpretation which is incorrect, and self-serving. “Those early Saints just weren’t good enough.” They say the higher law was “suspended, or revoked. And gave the lower law instead, I would if I could, but I can’t because he won’t let me, but some day in the future he’ll give the higher law again and then we’ll all be glad to live it then.” I just don’t think that’s what the history was, or what the future holds. President Hinckley says the law is in effect. Every latter-day Saint who wants to live it, can, right NOW, as much as they want to. There is no reason not to, there is “no limitations but our own” as President Romney said.

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