Come Follow Me: D&C 81-83
This revelation was originally given to Jesse Gause, calling him to be a counselor to Joseph Smith. Not much is known about Gause, but the Joseph Smith Papers Project notes a few things about him. First, he moved around a lot. He first joined the Quakers in his early adult life. After the death of his first wife, he joined the Shakers in 1829 and married again. He possibly joined the Shakers, because many of his in-laws were of that faith, and he needed assistance caring for his children from his first marriage. Moving to Ohio, he heard of Joseph Smith and the Latter-day Saints, and was baptized sometime before his appointment as counselor in 1832. Gause served for about a month as a scribe on the Joseph Smith Translation, and was sent on a mission, including to the Shakers, where he unsuccessfully attempted to convince his wife to join the Church. He left his mission companion, Zebedee Coltrin, in August 1832 - supposedly to return to his wife and the Shakers.
Frederick Williams would soon be called to replace Gause in the First Presidency. By the time the Doctrine and Covenants was printed in 1835, Williams' name was placed in the revelation, as it applied directly to him as the counselor.
The revelation establishes the First Presidency of the High Priesthood. There is no other quorum above the First Presidency. This quorum holds the keys of the priesthood, and as it developed, it became what it is today.
"Wherefore, be faithful; stand in the office which I have appointed unto you;the , lift up the hands which hang down, and the knees." (vs 5)
Interestingly, this is one of the major qualifications as a counselor in the First Presidency. However, it applies to all of us in our callings, whether Prophet of the Church or nursery leader. Our main purpose is not to administer, but to minister. We are to focus on relationships, not programs nor processes.
This is especially true when dealing with people who are different from us: race, ethnicity, gender orientation, immigrant status, political leanings, etc. We aren't to view them as different, but as children of God, who go through difficult challenges. We are to strengthen them in their weakness. To do this means we must first know them. It is easy to see some of the needs of a person in a wheelchair. How do we determine the needs of a person who quietly is struggling with depression or anxiety? Unless we actually become a part of his/her life, how do we know what they need and want?
In conjunction with the command to succor the weak, we learn more on the requirements of consecration.
"For of him unto whom is much is ; and he who against the greater shall the greater ." (vs 3)
This applies in both spiritual and temporal things. Americans, for the most part, have received much temporally. Even most of our poor are richer than the average person in Europe. We have air conditioning, cell phones, cars. Most of our homes are larger than 800 square feet, the average sized home in England. We are among the first in the world to get the Covid vaccine.
Politically, while many of us wish for even more freedom and less government, we are among the freest nations on earth. We can say almost anything on social media, without government interference. Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, the main Chinese government is apprehending journalists for opposing communist government overreach. That is the norm in most of the world. We often take our freedoms of speech, religion, free markets, etc. for granted.
On a spiritual level, Latter-day Saints are extremely blessed. We have received revelation upon revelation. We have the gift of the Holy Ghost. We receive great blessings by entering the temples of the Lord. We learn at the feet of a living prophet.
Much has been given to us. What are we giving back temporally and spiritually?
"I, the Lord, am when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no ." (vs 10)This is the verse my stake president invited me to memorize prior to my mission over 40 years ago. God has made promises to us, based upon obedience to his laws and commands. If we desire miracles, revelation, priesthood power, eternal life, then we must eagerly obey the laws connected to those heaven sent blessings. For me, it isn't just a matter of obeying out of fear of punishment, or obeying so we can receive blessings - although those can be motivating factors. Instead, we obey because we love God and wish to be like him. Perhaps there are different levels of motivation: good, better, best; telestial, terrestrial, celestial.
"For must increase in , and in ; her borders must be enlarged; her must be strengthened; yea, verily I say unto you, Zion must and put on her .
"Therefore, I give unto you this commandment, that ye bind yourselves by this covenant, and it shall be done according to the laws of the Lord.
"Behold, here is also in me for your good.
"And you are to be , or in other words, you are to have equal on the , for the benefit of the concerns of your stewardships, every man according to his wants and his needs, inasmuch as his wants are just—
"And all this for the benefit of the church of the living God, that every man may upon his , that every man may other , yea, even an hundred fold, to be cast into the Lord’s , to become the common of the whole church—
" man seeking the interest of his , and doing all things with an single to the glory of God." (vs 14-19)
Zion and her stakes can only be fully established upon the principles of consecration. Until then, Zion will lack in glory. It cannot "arise and put on her beautiful garments." For this reason, Christ already spoke in this chapter about obedience. We are to bind ourselves to the covenant of consecration.
We here learn that we have stewardships: our lands, our possessions, our knowledge, our talents, our wealth, our abilities, our callings, etc. These have been given to us by God, and they can be taken away and given to another, just as Jesse Gause lost his calling as Joseph Smith's counselor, and it was given to Frederick Williams.
We are to be equal. For those of us with lots of stuff, are we ready to give up our excess? Are we willing to sell our expensive home, move to a modest home as our stewardship, and have the extra moneys given to the storehouse? The day could arrive when the Lord may command such from us via our bishops.
The key is that we must be equal in temporal things, so that all will have the ability to improve upon his/her talents. Everyone should have the chance to go to college or learn a trade. Everyone should have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument, a foreign language, a new skill. Everyone.
Everyone of us must be "seeking the interest of [our] neighbor." And who is my neighbor? The Lord's parable of the Good Samaritan answers that. We should be ready to assist anyone in need, including those different from us.
Since we do not live the law of consecration as a Church right now, it is given to us to individually and as families to consecrate ourselves and our things to God. While tithing is set at ten percent, there is no limit set for fast offerings and other donations to the Church. There is no limit set for donating to other worthy causes. There is no limit to helping our neighbors, near or far. The only limitation is us.
Are we seeking to provide for others whatever there needs and wants are (as long as the wants are just)? The difference between this concept and communism, is that communism is forced upon all the people. Here, God is inviting all of us, of our own free will, to take of our excess and willingly share it with others. It isn't our stuff. It belongs to God. We are only stewards.
Again, we speak on consecration. Here it is mostly concerning the stewardships of fathers and parents in Zion. Husbands have the responsibility to take care of wife and children temporally. Period. Divorce does not change this scenario much. There is still a responsibility, based upon previously made covenants and promises.
Today's divorces are a tragedy. Occasionally, they are necessary. Usually, they could be avoided if both spouses were to obey the commands of God. Even in a no fault divorce, the husband still holds responsibility to care for children and spouse. I do not understand how much infighting there is in arriving at a judge's decision to divide properties and determine support. I knew a man once, who when his wife divorced him, lived several years in his car, so he could ensure the children had sufficient for their needs. Everything he did was for them. He consecrated his time, money, and everything, so they could have a decent upbringing. Only after they were grown, was he able to again purchase a home of his own.
Sadly, this is a rare event. Instead, most divorces end in at least one side greedily seeking to keep the wealth, often at the expense of the children. In such an instance, the wealth is viewed as possessions, and not as a stewardship to bless and lift others (like the family).
Are we ready and willing to live the Law of Consecration, to build and establish Zion and her stakes, and to manage our stewardships in righteousness? If not, what can we now do to begin that preparation?