Remembering what God has done for us is the step closest to being grateful for what God has done for us. Gratitude is a major attribute of those who want to become holy or godly people. Remembering the blessings God has given us in the past helps us better appreciate His blessings in the present.
I can’t think of a time that the Lord specifically said that remembering brings gratitude. But I do know that you can’t be grateful for something if you have no memory of that thing ever happening. In honor of the upcoming year of Old Testament studies I have chosen some text from the Old Testament that talks about the importance of remembering. Numbers 15:37-40
37 ¶ And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
38 Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue:
39 And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring:
40 That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God.
That is a pretty straight forward statement from the Lord. If we want to be holy we have to keep the commandments. If we want to keep the commandments we have to remember they are there. Since everything in the Law of Moses had a physical representation attached to it, everyone was supposed to wear fringes on their cloaks that had a blue ribbon to remind them of the commandments so they would remember to do what they were supposed to do.
Do we have an equivalent?
Sadly, in some ways, we do not have an equivalent to the Israelites’ fringe. We live a higher law and are expected to be on top of things like remembering to keep the commandments. In a way, we are still on equal footing. They had a fringe that became so ubiquitous, so common, that they no longer really noticed it, so they had to work to remember what it stood for so they could use the reminder as it was intended to be used. We, on the other hand, have been commanded to study our scriptures, which incidentally remind us all the time to remember points of doctrine we should be living. But if we aren’t studying the scriptures and looking for those reminders, we may as well be wearing the universal fringe that has lost its meaning.
The institution of the Sabbath
The Sabbath day was given to us by the Lord when He finished creating the earth and rested from His labors. The Sabbath is a standing law that will continue as long as the mortal world lasts. It may even be an institution in the eternities, I don’t know. Consider the law of the Sabbath to be our spiritual fringe. It reminds us that periodically we need to withdraw from the ways of the world and spend some time focusing all our attention on our relationship with our God.
As a law, the Sabbath is a unique practice. The exact blessings and cursings attached to it are not spelled out in detail in the scriptures. It is one of those laws that must be lived to have its power revealed to us. Ignoring the Sabbath day and violating this law brings with it a host of griefs that manifest themselves both individually and as a society. So the law is not just an individual requirement. The Lord expects everyone who has been given His laws to live it, and violation of that law will bring great punishments upon the nation that tramples this law under their feet.
Refer back to Numbers 15:40. It clearly states that remembering and doing the commandments creates holy people. In one way or another isn’t that the end design for all commandments? But keeping the Sabbath is a bigger deal than many of the other commandments.
Attached to the Sabbath
Some of the events the Lord has attached to the observance of the Sabbath day include no less than the creation of the earth, the freeing of Israel from the bondage of Egypt, and the resurrection of Christ. With God there is no such thing as coincidence. Everything is planned ahead of time.
The creation of the earth teaches us that we need to rest from our labors and turn to the Lord for refreshment and healing each week. The freeing from bondage in Egypt reminds us that through remembering and keeping God’s commandments we can be freed from sin. And Christ’s resurrection on the Sabbath day serves to remind us that this culminating act of the Savior’s atoning sacrifice for us fulfills God’s promise that those who kept their first estate will be guaranteed glory in eternity, and that those who keep their second estate will receive eternal increase and glory.
How can we remember all these things and not feel anything inside? If we are not being obedient to the Lord’s laws we might not feel anything but annoyance because these things remind us how much we have violated God’s commandments. But if we are obedient, and are praying regularly and sincerely, and studying the scriptures and trying to understand their meaning, we are bound to begin to feel a sense of gratitude for all the opportunities the Lord has provided us.
These opportunities are free to be explored on the Sabbath day. We have no work (usually) to interfere with our efforts to learn how to deepen our love and appreciation for God’s blessings. We can spend the whole day seeking to find new ways in which we can worship our Lord and serve others.
The Sabbath and holiness
As we study the Sabbath and what it offers us, we should remember, and pray that we can feel a growing sense of thankfulness for this weekly opportunity for us to learn how to worship. Worshiping is an attitude more than an action.
For example, when we prepare to participate in the administration of the sacrament we can just sit through an ordinance, like we wait for a plane to depart, or we can worshipfully and reverently review all the blessings of the past week. We can think about how we have done in our efforts to obey our Father’s will. We can try to feel the love we have because of all that our Savior has done for us. We can silently express gratitude for our spouse, our family, our loved ones, and try to think of ways of demonstrating our appreciation for their part in our life.
There is actually a lot to get accomplished in a very short amount of time when we try to include all of that in just the time it takes to administer the bread and the water. Fortunately, there isn’t anything that says we can’t begin the process before we come to Church.
The scriptures give us examples of some of the big things the Lord has done for all of His children, but the scriptures cannot recount all the private things He has done for each of us. Many of the Lord’s blessings in our lives have been big things. Unfortunately, because we obsessed over them at the time, we eventually became accustomed to them being in our mental vault, and like the reminder fringe we have become color blind to our own blessings.
Becoming holy people requires that we keep a perpetual remembrance of God’s blessings to us in the forefront of our mind. This is not easy, and it takes a lot of practice. It is so much easier to forget than to remember, and keep remembering.
All things spiritual are gifts
If we want to be grateful we must ask the Lord to help us feel grateful. We must then cherish that feeling and strive to feel it always. Feeling grateful for blessings given changes how we act and view our relationship with others. It especially changes how we view our God and our relationship with Him.
In Alma 34:17-27 we are told about the cost to gain a spirit of worship. We must pray, meaning we must be thinking about the Lord all day, and in every circumstance. We have been commanded to remember what the Lord has done for us. But what hope do we have to remember such things if we completely forget about God as soon as church lets out? What chance do we have that we will remember the great miracles He has wrought in our personal lives if we are not communing with God on a regular (which means more than just once a day) basis? Here are the verses.
17 Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you;
18 Yea, cry unto him for mercy; for he is mighty to save.
19 Yea, humble yourselves, and continue in prayer unto him.
20 Cry unto him when ye are in your fields, yea, over all your flocks.
21 Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening.
22 Yea, cry unto him against the power of your enemies.
23 Yea, cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness.
24 Cry unto him over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them.
25 Cry over the flocks of your fields, that they may increase.
26 But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness.
27 Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you.
These instructions are for every day worship. If we are able to follow the admonition of these verses each and every day, how do you think that would change our outlook on the Sabbath day, when we have all day to do things that are designed to bring us closer to God?
The gospel of Christ is not something you can carve up into little measurable pieces. Every part of the gospel connects to and effects the results of all the other parts that include it or touch it in any way. The individual parts may be easy to explain, but living the gospel is a holistic endeavor. It takes practice, time, and lots of effort. Along the way the Lord reveals what we individually need to know to improve and be happier.
There is no shortage of things the Lord has done for us. We just need to find ways to remember on a regular basis what those things are so we don’t forget. We need to pray for a sense of gratitude so we can find joy in those blessings, and this creates within us a worshipful spirit. That’s a lot that needs to take place. When we finally get the hang of properly worshiping the Lord all Sabbath long, then, and only then will we have a view of what it means to become holy.
Becoming holy is doable for each of us, but we need to remember all that we have been given, feel a sense of gratitude for all those blessings then practice the gospel through service. When we learn to do these things, over time the Lord will take care of making us holy.