Week 01 is scheduled for study Dec. 26-Jan. 1, 2023. Whether we choose to learn about God and His lifestyle is up to us. We just need to remember that we are accountable for our choices of behavior in this life.
The purpose of the scriptures is to help you come unto Christ and become more deeply converted to His gospel. The Come, Follow Me curriculum can help you understand the scriptures and find in them the spiritual strength you and your family need.
I am responsible for my own learning.
The gospel can be so frustrating! We don’t know how to return to our Father in Heaven, so we turn to Christ’s gospel to show us the way. Only problem is, it doesn’t. Nowhere in the scriptures or in the teachings of the prophets does it tell me, Kelly Merrill, what I am supposed to do today to live the kind of life God needs me to learn how to live. It also doesn’t tell me what attributes I am supposed to be working on, which virtues I personally need to develop, or how to become the kind of person God will be happy to have live with Him again. Am I really the only one to have found frustration in these things?
The catch 22
I am frustrated that the “how” of gospel living is not spelled out for me. But wait, isn’t that lack of prescribed living rules what I supported in the premortal world? Satan’s plan was for him to tell us each and every thing we were to do, so we could all be saved. And in return he would get all the glory. God’s plan was for each of us to choose what kind of future life we wanted to live by honoring our agency. This means that He is not going to direct us in every little thing. In Doctrine and Covenants 54:26-29 the Lord says this:
26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is in all things, the same is a and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
27 Verily I say, men should be in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
28 For the power is in them, wherein they are unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their .
29 But he that not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is .
Woah! These verses beautifully sum up the motivation behind the entire plan of salvation as God sees it. The Lord is saying that it is my responsibility to learn then choose to keep his commandments. It is my responsibility to do good as I understand my need and my opportunities to do good. If I do good I will not lose my reward. That is our Father’s promise to us. He seems to be more concerned that I do nothing, or do things lazily or reluctantly (verse 29), for “he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness [laziness], the same is damned.”
This is interesting, because (to use a nautically themed comparison) the Lord appears to be letting us chart our own course, which means I decide what direction I set sail today. I decide how far I go, whom I travel with, and where I dock at night. My destiny, in other words, is up to me. If that is the case, then what is the gospel of Christ for? Short answer is, to give me the principles with which to make wise choices, the opportunity to repent when I find myself off the course I have charted, and make me accountable to the Spirit for how well, and how often, I seek His counsel and follow His promptings. The Spirit has been given to us as a personal celestial tutor to help us become wise in our efforts and desires to return to our heavenly home.
Our Father in Heaven’s plan for our salvation is designed to make gods of us, not just a bunch of non-sinners who can’t make a decision for ourselves. Wow! That is a huge difference in perspective and objective. The very lack of specifics in the gospel is purposeful. We are meant to have to search, learn, stumble, get up and try again. Our Father and our Savior are not so concerned with how far we get in this life as they are about which direction we are headed, and how faithful we are to that direction. If we are to someday be given whole kingdoms to govern and care for, we must learn to become the kind of people who can be faithful in all things, and to have learned the traits of a Christlike character.
Does it really matter if I work on patience this week, versus tolerance? Can I work on both attributes and virtues simultaneously? Sure! The Lord has given us our agency. We choose what is important to us.
Choosing to learn
The gospel of Christ was never meant to be a road map. It is meant to be a character map. All that Christ teaches in the New Testament (and all the scriptures) are ways for us to become better people. Better people find greater happiness and joy. Better people can be trusted by God, and can learn more easily to work together to become unified as God and His Son are unified. Unity is an essential quality of all those who live in the celestial realm. All celestial people are more concerned about the welfare of others than they are about their own welfare. When everyone is looking out for others, no one lacks, goes hungry, is poor, neglected, abused, or unloved.
This life is a test. Our Father wants us to learn what is most important to us. Hopefully whatever we choose will include Him and His Son, Jesus the Christ. Hopefully we will learn to hunger for more contact and communion with the Spirit, He who testifies of and teaches all truth. It doesn’t really matter how I learn about charity, as long as I learn it. Which part of charity I learn first is of no consequence, as long as I am actively seeking to learn some part of that overall virtue. Charity is made up of many parts of our character that must be mastered to experience the full value of the whole attribute. God supports us no matter which part of charity we are seeking to understand and live better. The important thing is that we are choosing to learn and grow.
So don’t get so frustrated with God’s plan here in mortality. We have carte blanche to learn any part of the plan of salvation we want to, and we can learn and master any part of it just as quickly as we choose to. Some parts of the plan will be easier for some and more difficult for others, but all of them can be mastered with the Savior’s atoning sacrifice, and the Spirit’s teachings and guidance. They are here to give us all the assistance we need for the self-directed study we choose to pursue. That is the Father’s plan for our salvation. We just need to remember that we chose this course of living, and we are accountable to God for the choices we make in mortality. Make good choices, no matter what they are.
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