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Thursday, April 30, 2015

What Would You Give Up?

There are two places, at the moment, in the scriptures I can think of off the top of my head where the value of self sacrifice is directly and boldly emphasized. There are more but these two come to mind at the moment.

One of them is in the Book of Mormon in Alma chapter 22.  King Lamoni's Father was being taught by Aaron and he was so convinced of the truth of the gospel that he said: "What shall I do that I may have this eternal life of which thou hast spoken? Yea, what shall I do that I may be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may be filled with joy, that I may not be cast off at the last day? Behold, ... I will give up all that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy."

Imagine that if you can.  This man had possession of the entire Lamanite civilization and kingdom at his command.  According to the standards of the world today, he had it all; wealth, power, a family, and a reputation, command of the biggest army in the western hemisphere and here he is saying he'll give it all up at the drop of a hat if it means he gains the eternal joys of the gospel.  The majority of his people end up completely turning to the light of Christ and become, in some ways more righteous than the Nephites, who, contrary to the Lamanites, had the gospel of Christ ingrained in their society.  They rename themselves to reflect their change of heart and forever leave behind the ways of the world and never look back.

That's very similar to the idea of Obama forsaking his position, his job, his influence and everything else in his life (also being in command of the largest army in the western hemisphere) to receive the light of the gospel in it's fullness and never look back.

The other example I want to point out is in Luke 18: "And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 20 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. 21 And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. 22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. 23 And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich."

There you have it, straight from the Lord's mouth.

So now, the question to be considered is, do we have the faith to give it all up for Him?  Do we have the faith and trust in His plan for us and our happiness to give up all worldly "pleasures" and turn completely to Him and His plan to exalt the human family?

If God's prophet invited us to leave our homes and move to a specified place permanently, not telling a soul where we are going, leaving our homes our possessions and everything of a non-spiritual nature behind for the sake of building the Christ's kingdom and preparing for the coming of our Lord, would we do it?  I have a feeling something like that is not far in the future.

I read an article a few days ago by someone who, as far as I remember, was not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  He was talking about many members of the church, with our standards regarding music, movies, etc.  He mentioned how many of us refuse to listen to music that has even a tiny bit of bad language or an inappropriate beat/intensity or message, but yet we will be just fine with watching a movie that has a tiny bit of the same.  Hypocrisy? I think so!  I am guilty of this myself and have now made a goal to shift my desires so that 1) I'm not attracted to movies like that and 2) get rid of those movies that do have content like that, no matter the amount.  In the past I have used the excuse "but the message/moral of the story in the movie is the important part, so I can ignore the killing and language and suggestive themes to focus on the good message of the movie."  This is a copout.  I will not be doing that anymore.  That garbage is not necessary to depict to make the same point.  My wife and I have made a plan, to start out, to not watch our Adam Sandler movies anymore as well as get rid of them as we replace them with either edited versions or the otherwise good ones or other more praiseworthy movies.

Just today we were teaching an investigator with the Sister Missionaries and we went over the Law of Tithing and coffee and the Word of Wisdom came up.  We were testifying of the fact that, regardless of our understanding of the temporal dangers of coffee (or lack of understanding), we know that God knows better than us and He has, through His prophets, counselled us to abstain completely from coffee and all related products in any form.  We got talking about making sacrifices in order to gain greater blessings from God and I made the investigator a deal.  Pop is probably my one of the hardest things for me to say no to when it's present or being offered.  While pop is not something that will render someone unworthy to enter the temple, it's something that, in all reasonable truth, isn't good for us.  I made them a deal that if they completely give up coffee for a month that I would completely give up pop for a month.  We shook on it and then I wondered if I could do it.  I have to be honest it's going to be hard for me, but I have faith that the rewards will be well worth it.

I'm not saying this to toot my own horn.  The Lord is the source of all of our blessings and I honestly just want to follow His counsel to be as the salt of the earth; by living my life in a way that invites others to partake of the joys available through the Atonement of Christ by living like Him as well.

As time goes by and the proximity of His second coming becomes more obvious we will be invited and asked by God to leave more of the world behind; to change our condition of heart and truly forsake every last bit of the natural man in us to gain, with all of those who will as well, the unfathomable (to us), and lasting happiness and peace of His perfect love.

I'm going to give all my efforts to qualify for this.  Will you join me?