The goal of this lesson is “to help class members learn to apply in their own lives the instructions the Lord has revealed to other individuals in the scriptures.” Sometimes when we read about the Lord’s words to one person we forget that the truths given in the verses are eternal and apply to everyone, not just the person He is talking to. Eternal truths never apply to just one person. They always apply equally to all of God’s children.
There is a caveat to the principle about “likening the scriptures” unto ourselves. It is common sense, but we have to recognize the difference between specific directions given in the scriptures to individuals, and those comments that can be applied to all. At one point the Lord told Emma Smith in Doctrine and Covenants 25:2 “if thou art faithful and walk in the paths of virtue before me, I will preserve thy life,” He was speaking specifically to Emma, not to everyone. Some of us will not have a long life in mortality. However, if we look at those same words and apply them to eternal life then yes, those words can apply to everyone.
The point is that we need to learn wisdom in how we apply the counsel and words of direction in the scriptures so we are not taking the direction out of context. With that said, we can continue with the lesson. The universal principles that have been targeted in this lesson from the contents of Doctrine and Covenants 25 are as follows.
1. Husbands and wives should support and comfort each other.
2. We should be meek and avoid pride.
3. We should rejoice and be of good cheer.
Let’s start with the topic of husbands and wives supporting each other. Verse 5 says:
5 And the office of thy calling shall be for a comfort unto my servant, Joseph Smith, Jun., thy husband, in his afflictions, with consoling words, in the spirit of meekness.
Lest anyone feel that Emma was being slighted or demeaned by being assigned a role as a support to her husband, we should perhaps look at this calling of hers. Her calling to support her husband is not without scriptural precedent. Moses was given Aaron, his brother, as a support in his own weakness. Aaron had a gift of speaking Moses did not have. They helped each other – Moses obtaining the word of God, and Aaron delivering it to the people.
The Book of Mormon gives us another example, that of Jared and his brother. Jared led the people, but he needed his brother to go and obtain the word of the Lord as to where they should go and what they should do. They worked together to save their people and ensure their prosperity. Even Jesus had his precious cousin, John the Baptist who prepared the way before him, and his favorite friend, John the Beloved.
We each have need of someone who has our back, whom we can turn to in times of sorrow, trouble, and with whom we can share our burdens. This is the purpose of our spouse in marriage. Joseph and Emma were a little extreme in that Joseph had a most unique and demanding calling. His was perhaps one of the most difficult prophetic callings in the history of the world. Emma was his chosen companion.
When the Lord told Emma that her calling was to “be for a comfort unto my servant, Joseph Smith Jun.,” He was not reducing her importance, but elevating her in status. She was to be the confidante, the source of solace and protection to whom this trouble-laden servant of the Lord turned to gain the strength to go on in his difficult tasks. In verse three the Lord tells Emma she is an elect lady. He then couples her assignments with great blessings.
Notice that the Lord doesn’t ever tell us we will have an easy time of it. He never paints a rosy picture just to make us feel good. He is always completely honest. But his promises of trial and hardship always come with promises of eventual success and blessings for faithful performance.
In our own marriages we each have specific talents, and our callings in this life, which are often outlined or alluded to in our Patriarchal Blessings can help us learn to better support each other in our assigned responsibilities. Adam said that we need to become “one flesh.” That means that we become completely united in all things so that we begin to act as one being. This achievement of becoming one in all things is required if we are to successfully walk back into the Celestial kingdom and receive our full inheritance from the Savior.
In verse 14 the Lord tells Emma to be meek and avoid pride.
14 Continue in the spirit of meekness, and beware of pride. Let thy soul delight in thy husband, and the glory which shall come upon him.
Pride is not just the sin of the truly wicked. By definition pride is a state of enmity, of opposition. It is a self-centered nature that all of us have to conquer in order to really put off the natural man and become saints. If we had known Emma, we may have been hard pressed to identify what the Lord was specifically referring to, but He sees in us what we often times still mask from ourselves or refuse to admit in ourselves. The Lord’s admonition for each of us to beware of pride is a warning to find it in any of its many forms and to root it out of our lives, for our own safety. When we eliminate pride from our lives, humility and meekness are what is left.
I recommend reviewing President Benson’s General Conference talk on pride from April, 1989. You can also read it in the May, 1989 Ensign. His talk is the most comprehensive and detailed talk ever given on pride.
Rejoice and be of good cheer
Herein resides a great truth, that joy and suffering are not exclusive. The manual gives a number of verses that illustrate this point. Here is the list given in the manual. I suggest you read each one and note that at no time does the Lord tell the person being addressed that they will be relieved from their suffering. Yet, in each instance he is promising them the ability to obtain joy.
Doctrine and Covenants 29:5
Doctrine and Covenants 61:36
Doctrine and Covenants 68:6
Doctrine and Covenants 78:18
Doctrine and Covenants 136:29
If we are not to be relieved of our sorrows and suffering in this life then what is it that is supposed to bring us joy in the midst of all our trials? I think the point we need to keep in mind is that the Lord is looking at mortality for the temporary trial that it is. We often look at mortality as the end-all of our existence and forget that this state of our lives is truly only a temporary condition. Praying to the Lord, turning to Him helps us see this life for the passing phase that it is. It helps us focus on the victory that will be ours through Christ after this life is over. Our suffering will end and all will be rewarded and exalted if we can remain true to Christ and the covenants we have made.
As you read those verses listed above, think about the absolute knowledge Christ has in our victory through Him. As long as we keep our focus and attention on Him and His atoning sacrifice and resurrection, there is nothing we need fear or despair over in this life. No matter how dire things look for us physically, the victory over all bad things in mortality has already been won by Christ. This is where our faith in Christ will save us from the trials of mortality.
There are only 15 verses in this section of the Doctrine and Covenants, yet look at the depth of the lessons and the number of lessons there are available to us because of the the Lord’s instructions. He gave Emma her marching orders, made her promises, and spelled out her blessings then turned around and told the rest of us to apply His counsel in our personal lives.
I say again, the Lord never gives an eternal truth to anyone that applies only to that person. Eternal truths apply to all, that is what makes them eternal in nature. As we read the rest of the Doctrine and Covenants we need to be on the lookout for those truths that are given to one, but meant for all.