First, A Note About False Traditions
In my personal journey to know the Lord, I have been faced with the very uncomfortable situation of learning truth. Truth is anything that is revealed directly from the Lord–either personally or through the Spirit of Truth. This sort of truth can be so humbling that it breaks down your personal foundation but also has power great enough to rebuild it stronger than ever before. This is especially true in the case of our personal foundation is rooted in false traditions.
False traditions are simply the ideas or philosophies of men or women. Yes, sometimes they are mingled with scripture. But mingling something with scripture is to borrow some principles (righteous or unrighteous–both exist) and leverage them for personal gain. Personal gain may be something as simple as a personal “feel-good” but also something as heinous as power, control or dominion over another person (see also Lectures on Truth, Lecture One, 18-18.1).
The purpose of dispelling false traditions is to remove obstacles and barriers that truly bring us to become converted to the Savior, Jesus Christ, only. This is never easy. No one, especially the “natural man/woman” enjoys being wrong and that is true for me personally.
The problem with false traditions, assuming they are in fact false, is that we share them–we pass them onto other generations who, in turn, also share them and pass them on. The natural man/woman finds comfort in these traditions–that’s why we hold onto them and impart them to others as chunks of wisdom in hopes they too will hold onto them for their personal benefit. We find so much comfort in these false traditions. So much so that we depend on them even to the point that our personal salvation is linked-to or dependent upon them.
We should challenge orthodoxy while remaining in harmony with doctrine and principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. When Christ came he broke the traditions of the Jews and especially the Pharisees because they loved their traditions more than Christ, Himself. They found comfort in their traditions and they even believed their traditions would save them. Their false traditions were roadblocks or idols in place of Christ, Himself.
Confronting unbelief and false tradition is never easy. If you truly love God, value truth, and want to develop faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ, you’ll need to confront your unbelief and seek truth above tradition. Faith can only be founded upon truth. If it is founded upon anything else, it is not faith. If confronting unbelief and false tradition is uncomfortable yet the only way to know the Lord, I will gladly offer that sacrifice.
The False Tradition
D&C 58:26 has been quoted with the interpretation that you are supposed to figure it all out and then take very specific questions to the Lord for short answers.
“For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward” (D&C 58:26)
It is as if our tradition is saying, “Don’t depend on the Lord for all things. Only come to him when it’s absolutely necessary. You are saved only after all you can do, then the Lord makes up the difference. Be self reliant.”
This is just not true. It is the exact opposite. The reality is that He wants us to depend on Him for everything–to be God-reliant. There are many scriptures on this, but we love these:
- (Alma 37:16) “But if ye keep the commandments of God, and do with these things which are sacred according to that which the Lord doth command you, (for you must appeal unto the Lord for all things whatsoever ye must do with them) behold, no power of earth or hell can take them from you, for God is powerful to the fulfilling of all his words.”
- (D&C 6:36) “Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.”
Also, consider this commentary:
“Some may think we shouldn’t expect daily guidance from the Spirit because ‘it is not meet that [God] should command in all things,’ lest we become slothful servants. This scripture, however, was given to some early missionaries who asked Joseph Smith to obtain revelation they should have received for themselves. In a preceding verse, the Lord told them to come to the mission field ‘as they shall counsel between themselves and me.’
“These missionaries wanted a specific revelation about their travel plans. They hadn’t yet learned to seek their own direction in personal matters. The Lord called this attitude what it is: slothful. Early Church members may have been so happy to have a true prophet that they were in danger of failing to learn how to receive revelation themselves. Being spiritually self-reliant is hearing the Lord’s voice through His Spirit for one’s own life.
“Alma advised his son to ‘counsel with the Lord in all thy doings.’ To live in this way–what we often call ‘living by the Spirit’–is a high privilege. It brings a sense of calm and certainty as well as fruits of the Spirit such as love, joy, and peace.”
(Elder Larry Y. Wilson, Of the Seventy, April 2018 General Conference)
To understand what we mean, do a more comprehensive study and ponder on D&C 58:25-33. If we extract verse 26 only, or even part of that verse, “For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things,” we may miss the real and complete meaning of the Lord’s message.
Also, use the exchange with Edward Partridge to ponder these things:
25 Wherefore, let them bring their families to this land, as they shall counsel between themselves and me. [He is actually encouraging counsel between us and Him (the Lord)]
26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward. [“Command” and “compelled” are tied together here. He’s just saying that we cannot be void of our free will.]
27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness [Re-emphasizing the use of “free will,” he wants us to use our free will to “choose” to do the will of God. If we did not “choose to do the will of God” and were robots to wait for the command of a master, then we would be void of using our free will, which is contrary to the plan].
28 For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward. [“Doing” good is choosing to do good]
29 But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned. [Here He’s saying that being robot-compelled is equal to a situation where the Lord gives a command (personal revelation) and we do nothing]
30 Who am I that made man, saith the Lord, that will hold him guiltless that obeys not my commandments? 31 Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled? [To be like the Lord is to fulfill the personal commandments given to each of us]
32 I command and men obey not; I revoke and they receive not the blessing.
33 Then they say in their hearts: This is not the work of the Lord, for his promises are not fulfilled. But wo unto such, for their reward lurketh beneath, and not from above. [He is condemning those that complain about not receiving a reward/blessing when they do not obey the personal commandments (personal revelation).]
Ponder these questions from your study of verses 25-33:
- What should take place between us and the Lord? (v25)
- What does it really mean here to be “compelled”
- What is the contrast between “compelled” and “free will”? (v25-26)
- What is one key to becoming like the Lord? (v30)
- What does the Lord not appreciate when He gives commandments? (v32-33)
In order to progress spiritually, ascend and literally “come unto Christ” and to become “a servant” of the Lord, a person has to rely on the Lord for personal revelation “in all things.” This is absolutely the the Lord’s purpose. The Lord promises that if you would like to come unto Him that you will need to “keep His commandments.”
This is also the pattern of developing one’s gift of charity. Charity is the attaining “the mind and will of the Lord.” It is impossible to know the mind and will of the Lord without personal revelation and being willing to be “commanded in all things.”
Shouldn’t these be the types of prayers of every desiring servant throughout the day, each day and every day?
Lord, as your servant, I will look to you to guide me today in your work–to serve, to love, to lift, to heal and to bless?
Lord, I cannot do this alone. Lord, tell me what to do in this situation? What is the best thing to say in this situation?
What is this person’s needs? Help me to see what you see and do what you would do for this person?
Lord, I praise Thee for thy greatness, power and mercy. Lord, I I praise Thee for thy perfect justice and mercy and for Thy wisdom in all things and at all times. Lord, May I use thy power to bless this person? What blessing is the right blessing? Lord, what prayer should I pray?
Seeking to be “commanded in all things” is what the Savior did throughout His formal ministry. From where to go and when to what to do and how. His invitation to you is now and forever to feast upon His words:
“Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do” (2 Nephi 32:3)
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