DC 104 Historical Background
Spring of 1834 brought many difficulties for the young Church. The Missouri saints had been driven out, the Church in Kirtland was in debt, and both groups were charged with building temples. By the end of March, the Prophet Joseph and many of the Brethren had returned from a month long mission to the east (D&C 103:37-40). The purpose of the mission was twofold: preach the gospel, and obtain moneys for debt relief. The missionaries were more successful with the former.
In addition, work was underway to form Zion's Camp to provide relief to the Missouri saints. Such an undertaking would require money both for the camp and for the families left behind. Pressed by these temporal concerns, the Prophet held out hope that Orson Hyde, still on a mission in New York, could raise some money for the Church. He wrote to Orson:
The fact is, unless we can obtain help, I myself cannot go to Zion, and if I do not go, it will be impossible to get my brethren in Kirtland, any of them, to go; and if we do not go, it is in vain for our eastern brethren to think of going up to better themselves by obtaining so goodly a land... and stand against that wicked mob...
Now, Brother Orson, if this Church, which is essaying to be the Church of Christ will not help us, when they can do it without sacrifice, with those blessings which God has bestowed upon them, I prophesy-I speak the truth, I lie not-God shall take away their talent, and give it to those who have no talent...
We therefore adjure you to beseech them, in the name of the Lord, by the Son of God, to lend us a helping hand. (History of the Church, 2:48)
By "lending us a helping hand," the Prophet meant money. That was the issue. The finances of the Church had been organized by commandment into the United Order or Firm, based in Kirtland.
"Two years earlier, in April 1832, the united order (or united firm) had secured a five-year loan for $15,000, an immense sum at the time, primarily for purchasing goods and property in Missouri. When the Saints were driven out of Jackson County, not only did they suffer staggering financial losses and abject poverty, but the united order also lost its collateral on this loan and its primary means of paying it back. Added to this were other debts incurred by the order on behalf of the Church in Missouri and in Kirtland." (Stephen E. Robinson, H. Dean Garrett, A Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2001] 3:295)
By the Spring of 1834, the Firm had an immediate need of $2000. In 2007 inflation adjusted dollars, that is about $41,000. The Kirtland saints were poor and numbered about as much as we have in a typical stake today. For them, $2000 was a lot of money. The Prophet recorded:
Thursday, April 17.-I attended a meeting agreeable to appointment, at which time the important subjects of the deliverance of Zion and the building of the Lord's House in Kirtland were discussed by Elder Rigdon. After the lecture, I requested the brethren and sisters to contribute all the money they could for the deliverance of Zion; and received twenty-nine dollars and sixty-eight cents...
April 21.-I attended conference, and had a glorious time. Some few volunteered to go to Zion, and others donated sixty-six dollars and thirty-seven cents for the benefit of the scattered brethren in Zion...
April 23.-Assembled in Council with [the] Elders... and united in asking the Lord to give Elder Zebeedee Coltrin influence over Brother Jacob Myres, to obtain the money which he has gone to borrow for us, or cause him to come to this place and bring it himself...
About the last of April I received, by letters from friends in the East, and of brethren in Kirtland, the sum of two hundred and fifty-one dollars and sixty cents, towards the deliverance of Zion. (History of the Church, 2:50-61)
The first Bishops of this Church said they believed with all their hearts, that they understood temporal matters far better than the Prophet Joseph. Are these the feelings of the people at the present time? They are not, but right to the reverse. I could have said then, the same that I could say now, if Joseph was living-if he could have been believed, and confidence could have been placed in him, with regard to temporal matters, wealth would have been poured into the laps of this people, to overflowing.
...There was not enough confidence in the people to satisfy them that the Prophet knew how to handle money, or what to do with it; they did not believe he knew how to manage temporal affairs. This lack of confidence brought poverty and distress upon the whole people. (Journal of Discourses, 1:74-75, 1853)
DC 104:1 a united order, and an everlasting order for the benefit of my church
"Why does D&C 104:1 say that the united order was an everlasting order until the Lord comes, yet it is not practiced today?
"Stephen K. Iba, instructor at the Institute of Religion adjacent to the University of Utah. Whenever a covenant or commandment is entered into between God and his children, it should be understood in terms of larger, eternal laws and principles. The Prophet Joseph Smith stated that 'we are looked upon by God as though we were in eternity. God dwells in eternity, and does not view things as we do.' (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938, p. 356) 'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.' (Isa. 55:8-9.)
"These statements suggest that God may have something else in mind when he uses words like everlasting, eternal, Endless, or forever. 'Endless torment' and 'eternal damnation,' for example, do not mean there is no end to punishment, only that such punishment is God's punishment. 'The punishment which is given from my hand is endless punishment, for Endless is my name.' (D&C 19:10.)
"A number of scriptures in the Bible sustain this principle...
"Early in the Restoration, the Lord revealed the law of consecration and commanded the Saints to be united in all things-doctrinally, spiritually, socially, and economically. This law, they were told, would help them establish Zion upon the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom. The united order was instituted to help implement the principles of the law of consecration.
"Within three years, however, the Lord chastened the Church for transgression and withdrew the practice of the united order from the Saints. (See D&C 105:2-6, 9-13, 27-37.) Although the united order was suspended, some aspects of the law of consecration remained.
"Aspects of the law of consecration that are active today were mentioned by President Marion G. Romney in general conference: 'Full implementation of the united order must, according to the revelation, await the redemption of Zion. (See D&C 105:34.) In the meantime-while we are being more perfectly taught and are gaining experience-we should be strictly living the principles of the united order insofar as they are embodied in present Church requirements, such as tithing, fast offerings, welfare projects, storehouses, and other principles and practices. Through these programs we should, as individuals, implement in our own lives the bases of the united order.' (Ensign, May 1977, pp. 94-95)
"Although the united order was placed in abeyance, it is part of the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ. The principle is clear in the scriptures: The Lord is everlasting and eternal; hence, everything he commands is everlasting and eternal, although a particular commandment may not be practiced all the time, but only for the period the Lord wills. So it is with the united order-it will be lived in full when the Lord commands. It is his law, which is everlasting." (Stephen K. Iba, "I Have a Question," Ensign, June 1986, 27)
DC 104:3 inasmuch as they were not faithful they were nigh unto cursing
Before this revelation [on tithing] was given, God had revealed the principle of the United Order, which, as you know, the people could not abide; and when we come to think about it, it could hardly be expected that they could do so, they having been in the Church but a short time, taken out of the world, with all the prejudices and weaknesses that you and I have. But the time will come when we will obey these things as they are given by the revelations of God, and it will not be a hardship either; it will be a pleasure to those who are under the influence of the Lord. (Journal of Discourses, 22:11, 1881)
As a people, we did not strictly comply with that which the Lord required. Neither did they comply in Kirtland. Many of those persons were called by name to enter into an inferior order, afterwards called The Order of Enoch, in which only a portion of their property was consecrated, and even they did not comply, but some of them broke the most sacred and solemn covenants made before high Heaven in relation to that order. The Lord said concerning them that they should be delivered over to the buffetings of Satan in this world, as well as be punished in the world to come. He also told them that that soul that sinned and would not comply with the covenant and promise which they made before him in relation to their properties, should have his former sins returned to him, which had been before remitted in baptism.
This ought to be an example for us who are living at a later period in the history of the Church of the living God, and who ought, by this time, to have become thoroughly experienced in the law of God. It is true we are not now required to consecrate all that we have; this law has not been binding upon us since we were driven from the land of Zion. The reason why this law was revoked was because the Lord saw we would all go to destruction in consequence of our former tradition in relation to property if this law had continued to be enforced after we were driven out, hence he revoked it for the time being, as you will find recorded in one of the revelations given June 22nd, 1835, after we were driven from Jackson County. I will repeat the words-"Let those commandments which I have given concerning Zion and her law, be executed and fulfilled after her redemption." Here you perceive that, for the salvation of this people and of the nations of the earth among the Gentiles, God saw proper to revoke this commandment and to lay it over for a future period, or until after the redemption of Zion. Zion is not yet redeemed, and hence we are not under the law of full consecration. (Journal of Discourses, 15:358-359, 1873)
DC 104:4 some... have broken the covenant through covetousness, and with feigned words
The law of consecration is inseparable from the law of God, the law of obedience, and the law of sacrifice which the saints have already accepted.
Can it for any reason be postponed? No! Those who have failed to keep it here and now are denounced: "Inasmuch as some of my servants have not kept the commandment, but have broken the covenant, . . . I have cursed them with a very sore and grievous curse" (D&C 104:4). Why on earth would anyone want to disregard it after accepting the gospel and bidding farewell to the ways of the world? The answer: "by covetousness and feigned words" (D&C 104:52)-unable to give up their habits of greed, they pretended to accept what they did not accept. Of course, they argued that the thing wasn't practical or convenient just then. When will it be? Thirty years after the above revelation, Brigham Young, along with John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and Lorenzo Snow, were still vigorously appealing to the saints to wake up. (Approaching Zion, edited by Don E. Norton [Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1989], 386)
When the United Order was dissolved in 1834, it was through no pressure from outside but because of greed and hypocrisy ("covetousness, and with feigned words," D&C 104:4, D&C 104:52) within the Church. Brigham Young revived it again-the Brigham Young Academy at Provo was founded for the explicit purpose, in his words, of countering "the theories of Huxley, of Darwin, or of Miall and the false political economy which contends against cooperation and the United Order."
But after him the old covetousness and feigned words triumphed again as rich men quietly bought up controlling shares of the cooperatives without changing the name... But while attempts to implement it come and go, the covenant remains, and those who have entered it must live by it or be cursed (D&C 104:3-5), for in this matter God is not to be mocked (D&C 104:6). (Approaching Zion, edited by Don E. Norton [Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1989], 172 - 173)
We learn that the Saints in that early period of our history, refused to be governed in those matters. (Quotes D&C 104:4-6, etc.)
Hence we learn that the Saints in Jackson County and other localities, refused to comply with the order of consecration, consequently they were allowed to be driven from their inheritances; and should not return until they were better prepared to keep the law of God, by being more perfectly taught in reference to their duties, and learn through experience the necessity of obedience. And I think we are not justified in anticipating the privilege of returning to build up the center stake of Zion, until we shall have shown obedience to the law of consecration. One thing, however, is certain, we shall not be permitted to enter the land from whence we were expelled, till our hearts are prepared to honor this law, and we become sanctified through the practice of the truth. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 16: 276)
DC 104:5 he shall be cursed in his life, and shall be trodden down by whom I will
Speaking in regard to those who should disobey the principles of the United Order after receiving it, the Lord says, "I have decreed in my heart that any man among you that shall break the covenant by which you are bound, he shall be trodden down by whomsoever I will." And he says, in regard to some parties who turned away from this principle, "I have cursed them with a sore and grievous curse." He says in another revelation, showing the sacredness of this order, "Therefore a commandment I give unto you, and he who breaketh it shall lose his standing in the church, and be turned over to the buffeting of Satan." These are severe penalties, but it is in consequence of his desire to prepare a people for celestial glory. Now, shall we say that these matters do not pertain to us, and that we shall leave them until we go back to Jackson County? I have sometimes thought that if the Latter-day Saints did not open their eyes and attend to these things very strictly, we should hardly escape these afflictions, but be persecuted as were our brethren in Missouri. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 19: 347 - 348)
DC 104:9 the buffetings of Satan until the day of redemption
Buffetings can occur in this life or the next. However, this term is often applied to suffering for sin after death. This raises the question, is it possible to suffer in the spirit world and then be resurrected to a kingdom of glory? Absolutely! King David, though guilty of murdering Uriah, would not be punished forever. He gloried in the knowledge that he would not be cast off forever, "For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (i.e. spirit prison)" (Ps 16:10). The scriptures don't tell us which kingdom he will inherit, but they do tell us he fell from his exaltation (D&C 132:39). Even the mostly righteous will be turned over to the buffetings of Satan to suffer for unconquered sins (see D&C 19:17-18). Remarkably, it is even possible to suffer the buffetings of Satan and be resurrected to exaltation in celestial glory (D&C 132:26). The only souls who will be turned over to the buffetings of Satan and are never redeemed (they are resurrected but not to a kingdom of glory) are the sons of perdition. "Yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the sufferings of his wrath. For all the rest shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead, through the triumph and the glory of the Lamb." (D&C 76:38-39)
But who wants to be turned over to the buffetings of Satan? Even celestial glory in the day of redemption won't mitigate the promised pain and the inevitable anguish of suffering Satan's buffetings.
DC 104:10 deliver him over unto the buffetings of Satan
The transgressor, according to this verse, is excommunicated. That is when the Spirit completely withdraws. That when the light goes out and the darkness really sets in.
I remember when someone I loved was cut off from the Church. A friend called with a comfort and a warning: "It will be worse yet, for a time, while the buffetings of Satan invoke real trouble. I know. I watched it with my own wife. After her excommunication the buffetings of Satan became real and terrible. Christ supports us but Satan tosses us about when we step into his arena. If people knew this, they'd stay far away from sin." (Adversity [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1987], 13)
B. H. Roberts
Of course to those who hold lightly their standing in the church, suspension of fellowship, or excommunication has no especial terror; but to the man of faith, whose full hopes of eternal life with all its advantages stand or fall with his standing in the church of Christ, no greater punishment can threaten him. He remembers that the Lord hath said: "Woe unto them who are cut off from my church, for the same are overcome of the world." And, again: "Inasmuch as ye are cut off by transgressions, ye cannot escape the buffetings of Satan, until the day of redemption." The punishment, then, of excommunication is a serious one in the estimation of the faithful. (Outlines of Ecclesiastical History [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1927], 379 - 380)
DC 104:11 appoint every man his stewardship
Joseph B. Wirthlin
Each of you has an eternal calling from which no Church officer has authority to release you. This is a calling given you by our Heavenly Father Himself. In this eternal calling, as with all other callings, you have a stewardship, and "it is required of the Lord, at the hand of every steward, to render an account of his stewardship, both in time and in eternity." This most important stewardship is the glorious responsibility your Father in Heaven has given you to watch over and care for your own soul.
At some future day, you and I will each hear the voice of the Lord calling us forward to render an account of our mortal stewardship. This accounting will occur when we are called up to "stand before [the Lord] at the great and judgment day."
Each day on this earth is but a small part of eternity. The day of resurrection and final judgment will surely come for each one of us.
Then our Father in Heaven's great and noble heart will be saddened for those of His children who, because they chose evil, will be cast out, unworthy to return to His presence. But He will welcome with loving arms and with indescribable joy those who have chosen to be "true to the truth." Righteous living, combined with the grace of the Atonement, will qualify us to stand before Him with clean hearts and clear consciences. ("True to the Truth," Ensign, May 1997, 16)
Thomas S. Monson
I recall that when I was the second counselor in our deacons quorum presidency, I was considered a ward officer. At ward conference, when we sat on the front row of our ward officer's meeting, I remember the stake president saying, "We will now call on Thomas Monson, the second counselor in the presidency of the deacons quorum of this ward, to give an account of his stewardship before the priesthood leadership of this ward." Twelve years old, shaking like a leaf, I had to go forward to the same pulpit and give an account of my stewardship as the second counselor in the deacons quorum. We were taught responsibility, dependability, and accountability. We have not tapped that resource to a sufficient degree. ("Seven Steps to Success With Aaronic Priesthood Youth," Ensign, Feb. 1985, 24)
DC 104:13 it is expedient that I, the Lord, should make every man accountable
Joseph F. Smith
If there is one principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ that goes directly to the very foundation of justice and righteousness, it is that great and glorious and God-like principle that every man will have to render an account for that which he does, and every man will be rewarded for his works, whether they be good or evil. (Gospel Doctrine: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Joseph F. Smith, compiled by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939], 69.)
Joseph F. Smith
If I fail to observe the laws of the Church, I am responsible to my God, and will have to answer to him, by and by, for my neglect of duty, and I may have to answer to the Church for my fellowship. If I do my duty, according to my understanding of the requirements that the Lord has made of me, then I ought to have a conscience void of offense; I ought to have satisfaction in my soul, in the consciousness that I have simply done my duty as I understand it, and I will risk the consequences. With me it is a matter between me and the Lord; so it is with every one of us. (Gospel Doctrine: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Joseph F. Smith, compiled by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939], 249.)
I have no doubt but that you will agree with me that men will be held accountable for the things which they have and not for the things they have not, or that all the light and intelligence communicated to them from their beneficent creator, whether it is much or little, by the same they in justice will be judged, and that they are required to yield obedience and improve upon that and that only which is given. (The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, p. 298; standardized)
DC 104:14 I, the Lord...built the earth...and all things therein are mine
"The message from the scriptures is clear: Earth is the Lord's; man is only a steward. And as a good steward, man is accountable and must be respectful of Earth and its inhabitants. There is no evidence that God intended man's authorized dominion over Earth to be taken as an entitlement to exploit Earth wantonly. Quite to the contrary, God counsels man through the scriptures to 'hurt not the earth' (Rev. 7:3), to care for the poor, and to be a prudent and responsible agent: 'It pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion' (D&C 59:20). Certainly the pursuit of personal gain with disregard for the environment and the rights and welfare of others is a violation of God's will." (David Clark, Of Heaven and Earth: Reconciling Scientific Thought with LDS Theology [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1998], 198.)
Gerald N. Lund
God is responsible for our creation... not just the making of our own bodies, but the whole of creation-the heavens, the earth, and all that in them are. That simple fact alone should be basis enough for our unending gratitude. When a man creates something through his own labor-a work of art, a building, a piece of furniture, great music-we say that it is his. In other words, we recognize that he has claim upon it, that he has stewardship over it, that he has the right to do with it as he wishes.
By that same principle, we should acknowledge that, because all that we see and know comes from the labor of God's hands, it is his. Therefore, whatever we have, or take, or use, or enjoy puts us automatically in his debt. In a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord clearly stated that this is indeed the case: "For it is expedient that I, the Lord, should make every man accountable, as a steward over earthly blessings, which I have made and prepared for my creatures. I, the Lord, stretched out the heavens, and built the earth, my very handiwork; and all things therein are mine." (D&C 104:13-14; italics added.) Note the possessive phrases used in those verses: "which I have made," "my very handiwork," "all things therein are mine." As the Psalmist said, "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein." (Ps. 24:1.)
Think for a moment how that simple concept would alter people's thinking if they would really accept it. We clutch things to our bosom and say, "These are mine." Individuals rob, cheat, and steal, or they manipulate and maneuver so they may be able to claim things as their own. Figuratively, the rich sit on their velvet thrones, drinking from golden goblets, and ignore the desperate sufferings of the poor because they think that what they have received belongs solely to them. Nations go to war over lands that they did nothing to create.
If we truly believed that God was the owner of all things, that man was only a user and a borrower, our approach to life would alter drastically. A classic illustration of that principle was the man Job. After facing devastating losses of family, property, and health, he stated simply: "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." (Job 1:21.) Henry B. Eyring spoke of this natural human tendency to forget all that God has done for us: "We so easily forget that we came into life with nothing. Whatever we get soon seems our natural right, not a gift. And we forget the giver. Then our gaze shifts from what we have been given to what we don't have yet. . . . The remembrance urged upon us by King Benjamin can be ours. Remembrance is the seed of gratitude." (Jesus Christ, Key to the Plan of Salvation [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 116-117.)
DC 104:16 it must needs be done in mine own way...
George Q. Cannon
I refer to what is known among us as the United Order. I know that many have thought that this has passed off; that it is a fantasy, an idea that cannot be carried out; that it is impossible, as human nature is constituted, to make it practical. Probably many among us entertain that idea. But I can assure you that this is not the case. It is the plan that God has devised, and I want to hold it up before you if I can, so that you will see it and understand that God has devised a plan that is far superior to that which men have concocted. And it can be and will be carried out. (Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, 5 vols. [Burbank, Calif., and Woodland Hills, Ut.: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987-1992], vol. 4, April 8, 1894)
I am, and I presume a great many others who are acquainted with the revelations of God, as contained in the Doctrine and Covenants, are looking for the period of time to come, in the history of the Latter-day Saints, when we as a people shall possess a very different country from the one we are now inhabiting... we expect, just as much as we expect the sun will shine, when it arises on a clear morning, that the Lord will by and bye, take us back to the land [of Zion]. We do not expect that when that time shall come, that all Latter-day Saints, who now occupy the mountain Valleys, will go in one consolidated body, leaving this land totally without inhabitants. We do not expect any such thing. But we do expect, that there will be a period in the future history of the Church when many hundreds of this people... will go to the eastern portions of the state of Kansas, and also to the western portions of the state of Missouri to settle. And when that time shall come, if it be needful to carry out the commandments which Brother Snow read this morning, referring to the purchase of lands, we will have property and means sufficient to accomplish this work.
It was necessary some 47 years ago to purchase lands, and also for several years afterwards. But we did not do it then. It may be necessary for us in times to come, and probably will be necessary for us to purchase that whole region of country... And the land thus purchased will be no doubt, as far as possible, located in one district of country, which will be settled very differently from the way we now settle up these mountain regions. You may ask, in what respect we shall differ in settling up those countries when we go there to fulfill the commandments of the Lord? I will tell you. No man in those localities will be permitted to receive a stewardship on those lands, unless he is willing to consecrate all his properties to the Lord. That will be among the first teachings given. When this shall be done, the people will be, as the parable says, like unto one body-all equally poor, or all equally rich; in other words, they will be persons that can claim no property as their own, everything being consecrated. And the land being purchased, will be held on a different principle, from what it is now. Today fifty thousand dollars worth of real estate property is the most that can be held by a religious organization; but in that day the whole of our properties, amounting a very much larger sum, will be held in trust. For whom? For the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Saints, and for all this great company that will be gathered together. And there will be such a change in governmental affairs, that the trustee, whoever he may be, will only act as such as long as he is faithful; and if he becomes unfaithful it will be transferred to another... The properties they hold will not be their own, although it may be called so, as far as that is concerned. And when it shall be ascertained that an individual has consecrated everything he has, inquiries will be made as to the size of his family, and land will be apportioned to him accordingly-not to deed him the property, according to the Gentile practice; but rather that the extent of his stewardship may be determined. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 21: 150 - 151)
DC 104:16 the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low
Joseph Fielding Smith
In speaking of the exaltation of the poor, the Lord did not intend to convey, as some may think, that he was to take from the rich and make them poor, but that through this divine law there would come an equality and in humility all would be made rich in the abundance that would be gathered into the storehouse of the Lord, and every man should be provided with an abundance.
"For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves." (v. 17.) The abundance of the earth is so plentiful, through the mercies of the Father, that all could have "enough and to spare" if the commandments of the Lord were strictly kept. (Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1946-1949], 3: 25)
Marion G. Romney
Since that eventful day in Eden, the Lord has frequently reemphasized the fact that individual effort is the basic principle in His economy-both spiritual and temporal. Let us never forget that the Lord's way to provide for His saints is "that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low." (D&C 104:16.)
The poor can be exalted when and only when they are enabled to obtain independence and self-respect through their own industry and thrift. Our duty is to enable them to do this.
"The rich are made low" when they evidence their obedience to the second great commandment-"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Matt. 22:39)-by imparting of their substance "according to the law of [the] gospel, unto the poor and the needy." (D&C 104:18.) ("In Mine Own Way," Ensign, Nov 1976, 123)
DC 104:17 the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare
James E. Faust
I next address the present-day challenge to the words of the Lord recorded in Genesis: "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth." All my life I have heard the argument that the earth is overpopulated. Much controversy surrounded a 1994 United Nations International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo, Egypt. No doubt the conference accomplished much that was worthwhile. But at the very center of the debate was the socially acceptable phrase "sustainable growth." This concept is becoming increasingly popular. How cleverly Satan masked his evil designs with that phrase.
Few voices in the developed nations cry out in the wilderness against this coined phrase, "sustainable growth." In Forbes magazine a thoughtful editorial asserts that people are an asset, not a liability. It forthrightly declares as preposterous the broadly accepted premise that curbing population growth is essential for economic development. This editorial then states convincingly, "Free people don't 'exhaust' resources. They create them."
An article in U.S. News & World Report entitled "10 Billion for Dinner, Please" states that the earth is capable of producing food for a population of at least eighty billion, eight times the ten billion expected to inhabit the earth by the year 2050. One study estimates that with improved scientific methods the earth could feed as many as one thousand billion people. Those who argue for sustainable growth lack vision and faith. The Lord said, "For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare." That settles the issue for me. It should settle the issue for all of us. The Lord has spoken. ("Serving the Lord and Resisting the Devil," Ensign, Sept. 1995, 4-5)
DC 104:18 if any man shall...impart not his portion...he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment
Marion G. Romney
The revelation from which this is taken was given in this dispensation for our guidance. In light of it, do you think that this matter of taking care of the poor is one that we can disregard and still obtain the blessings of the Lord? Not at all. We obey it, or we pay the penalty. ("Fundamental Welfare Services," Ensign, May 1979, 96)
D. Todd Christofferson
We might ask ourselves, living as many of us do in societies that worship possessions and pleasures, whether we are remaining aloof from covetousness and the lust to acquire more and more of this world's goods. Materialism is just one more manifestation of the idolatry and pride that characterize Babylon. Perhaps we can learn to be content with what is sufficient for our needs. ("Come to Zion," Ensign, Nov 2008, 37-40)
Mark E. Petersen
I used to think the Lord was pretty harsh in saying that if we are not willing to help the poor and the needy in his way, we would be in danger of the torment of hell, but when I began to read that in the light of Matthew, twenty-fifth chapter, and think of it along with the Church welfare program, I began to understand what the Lord had in mind. You remember the Savior said this:
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
And before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty. and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison. and did not minister unto thee?
Then shall he answer them saying, Verily, I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me (Matt. 25:31-45). (Conference Report, April 1947, pp. 98-103)
DC 104:19-46 The Dissolution of the United Order
"10 April , a meeting of members of the united order in Kirtland agreed that the order should be dissolved and that each member of the order should have his stewardship allotted to him individually as private property. In this way, creditors who might have had a claim against assets of the order could not collect by seizing property allotted to its individual members. This was not an attempt to avoid paying the debts of the Church (se v. 78), but was done to protect Church property while gaining time to raise additional funds. Even so, actual dissolution of the order was postponed for two weeks, apparently in the hope that funds could be raised in time and dissolution could be avoided. On 23 April 1834, Joseph met in council with members of the order and received from the Lord Doctrine and Covenants 104. The Lord instructed that the order was to be dissolved and reorganized into two separate orders, one in Kirtland and one in Missouri, though members of the order were still to receive individual stewardships. In a separate, unpublished revelation received the same day, members of the order in Kirtland were instructed to forgive each other their personal debts to one another and their debts to the order. All of these developments, together with the Lord's financial instructions contained in Doctrine and Covenants 104, allowed the Prophet Joseph to meet the Church's most challenging financial problems, and, thus, to begin preparing for Zion's Camp." (Stephen E. Robinson, H. Dean Garrett, A Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2001] 3:296-297)
Current residence and tannery lot
Old John Johnson lot
Frederick G. Williams
Current residence and half of printing office lot
Lot 1 adjacent to printing office, half of printing office lot, and his father, William Cowdery's lot
Current residence and portion of previously inherited lands
Newell K. Whitney
Current residences, the store, the adjacent lot, and the ashery lot
Joseph Smith Jr.
Temple lot and Joseph Smith, Sr. residence
Why is it that the property is divided among only 7 people? Shouldn't it be divided among all the saints in Kirtland? As it turns out, the United Order was only practiced by the leading Brethren of the Church. While converts would donate to the Bishop and even receive an inheritance according to the principles of the law of consecration, only the members of the United Order were to own things collectively as the New Testament saints had "all things common" (Acts 4:32). This select group were to consecrate everything to the order, while most saints were not required this extensive a sacrifice. In this respect, the body of Church really wasn't living the law of consecration in its fullest in the early days of the Church. Elder Orson Pratt explains the difference. He distinguishes between the celestial law and the law of Enoch.
I have related these things that we may understand wherein we have once had the privilege of complying with the celestial law in regard to our property, and wherein a great principle has been put out in our midst. In all of our wanderings the celestial law has never been put in practice, as regards our property... Therefore when I speak of the Order of Enoch, I do not mean the order of ancient Enoch, I mean the Order that was given to Joseph Smith in 1832-1834, which is a law inferior to the celestial law, because the celestial law required the consecration of all that a man had. The law of Enoch only required a part. The law of consecration in full required that all the people should consecrate everything that they had; and none were exempt. The law of Enoch called upon certain men only to consecrate. (Journal of Discourses, 16:155-56)
DC 104:47-50 Kirtland and Zion each to have their own United Order
The way the United Order was to be set up prior to 1834:
In addition to each community within the united order having its own storehouse, or economic center, there was a central storehouse into which the members of the Central United Order Board turned their surplus, which became 'the common property of the whole church.' This meant that the funds of the central storehouse were to be administered for the benefit of the whole system.
Though the program of the central storehouse was not fully developed while the Saints were in Ohio and Missouri, there can be little doubt that the Central United Order Board was expected to play a vital role in the over-all operation of the system.
First, in its administration of the surplus funds of the central storehouse, the central board could bring about a uniform standard of living among the members of the whole system, based upon the existence of sufficient wealth in each community storehouse to sustain its members on that standard. If the surplus of the central storehouse was to be administered for the benefit of 'the whole church,' and if all stewards as heirs truly had an equal right to acquire the blessings of the earth, it followed that communities lacking in natural resources, etc., could apply to the central storehouse for funds to develop industries and enterprises which would stimulate their economic growth. Without taking from one community storehouse to give to another, stewards could achieve and maintain an equal standard of living consistent with the principles of the new economic order and not contradictory to the incentive of those with wealth to obtain more."
Persecution and transgression made execution of this ideal impractical. The distance between Kirtland and Jackson County was 700 miles. The division of the order into two separate systems may also be seen as representing financial independence between the first two stakes.
"When this reorganization of the United Order in Kirtland came to an end is difficult to determine. However, the word of the Lord in D&C 105:34 removed from the Saints in Missouri the responsibility of living the law of consecration and stewardship of property until after the redemption of Zion.
"By 1837 the United Order in Kirtland had definitely come to an end when a financial crisis struck. This economic plight was one of many factors that led to an apostasy in the Church, and forced Joseph to flee from Kirtland to save his life." (Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson, eds., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 1: The Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989], 183)
DC 104:51 The covenants being broken through transgression, by covetousness
The spirit of speculation in lands and property of all kinds, which was so prevalent throughout the whole nation, was taking deep root in the Church. As the fruits of this spirit, evil surmisings, fault finding, disunion, dissension, and apostasy followed in quick succession. (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2: 487 - 488.)
DC 104:56 if the properties are mine, then ye are stewards
Marion G. Romney
The basic principle and the justification for the law of consecration "is that everything we have belongs to the Lord; therefore, the Lord may call upon us for any and all of the property which we have, because it belongs to Him. ... (D&C 104: 14-17, 54-57)" (J. Reuben Clark, Jr., in Conference Report, Oct. 1942, p. 55)
The intent of the law of consecration was that every man is to be "equal according to his family, according to his circumstances and his wants and needs." (D&C 51:3) Under it, every man, including the poor, was to receive a " 'portion' ... such as would make him equal to others according to his circumstances, his family, his wants and needs.
"The land which you received from the bishop by deed, whether it was part of the land which you, yourself, had deeded to the Church, or whether it came as an out-right gift from the Church ... and the personal property which you received, were all together sometimes called a 'portion' (D&C 51:4-6), sometimes a 'stewardship' (D&C 104:11-12), and sometimes an 'inheritance.' (D&C 83:3)" (J. Reuben Clark, Jr., in Conference Report, Oct. 1942, p. 56) ("Living the Principles of the Law of Consecration," Ensign, Feb. 1979, 3)
We have not yet learned the lesson that we are but stewards over what the Lord places in our hands. We have not yet learned the law which should govern and regulate these matters. Ever since we entered these valleys every man has been for himself more or less. The merchant to trade and traffic and gain all he could possibly rake and scrape together. The mechanic, the farmer and the manufacturer have done the same; and each one, in all the various branches of business that have been carried on in our Territory, has been constantly grabbing here and grabbing there, each trying to get rich the soonest and to become a millionaire without any great exertion. (Journal of Discourses, 12:320-321, 1868)
DC 104:57 I have appointed unto you to be stewards... even stewards indeed
"'In the Church a stewardship is a sacred spiritual or temporal trust for which there is accountability. Because all things belong to the Lord, we are stewards over our bodies, minds, families, and properties. (See D&C 104:11-15.) A faithful steward is one who exercises righteous dominion, cares for his own, and looks to the poor and needy. (See D&C 104:15-18.)' (Ensign, Nov. 1977, p. 78)
"The assignment of stewardship is usually thought of as growing out of the formal law of consecration. (Since the law of consecration is founded on the truth that all things belong to the Lord, under it we consecrate to the Lord all that we have. The Lord thereafter appoints each man as a steward over a portion of property sufficient for himself and his family. Each steward is accountable to the Lord for how he manages his stewardship. [See D&C 42.]) But the principle of stewardship also applies under our presently binding covenants of baptism and consecration.
"Church members recognize that we do not truly 'own' even ourselves. Everything we possess is really a stewardship. Our time, our talents, our property, our families, our Church callings and priesthood offices-all of these have been entrusted to us as part of our individual stewardship, for which we are held accountable.
"'The responsibility to perform [your] labor came to you from the Son of God. You are his servants. You will be held accountable to him for your stewardship.' (Joseph Fielding Smith, Seek Ye Earnestly ... , Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1970, pp. 235-36; italics added)
"We would do well to master the principles of stewardship in this life, for we must operate by them both here and hereafter: 'It is required of the Lord, at the hand of every steward, to render an account of his stewardship, both in time and in eternity.' (D&C 72:3; italics added)
"Ultimately, how we manage the affairs of our family and priesthood responsibilities determines how happy we are as citizens of the kingdom. It is primarily through these stewardship roles that we will be judged to determine if we have done all things that we were commanded-and have in fact kept our second estate. Latter-day Saints who faithfully practice stewardship principles now will not only be contributing to the eventual creation of a Zion society, but will also be saving themselves: 'And whoso is found a faithful, a just, and a wise steward shall enter into the joy of his Lord, and shall inherit eternal life.' (D&C 51:19) (R. Quinn Gardner, "Becoming a Zion Society: Six Principles," Ensign, Feb. 1979, 34-35)
DC 104:58 organize yourselves, even to print my words, the fullness of my scriptures, the revelations...
"As a new year dawned in January 1834, the Church was beset by persecution and violence, both in Ohio and Missouri. On the evening of January 11, a group of brethren met in a prayer meeting with the Prophet to ask the Lord for help and protection. Their requests were itemized, and the fifth request read: 'That the Lord would protect our printing press from the hands of evil men, ... that we may print His scriptures.' (History of the Church, 2:3.) Such a plea had special meaning relative to the press in Ohio, for the W. W. Phelps printing press in Independence had been destroyed by a mob just six months earlier, on 20 July 1833.
"On 23 April 1834, the Lord again spoke to the Prophet about printing the new translation: 'And for this purpose I have commanded you to organize yourselves, even to print my words, the fulness of my scriptures, the revelations which I have given unto you.' (D&C 104:58.) Although more than the new Bible translation is involved in the scope of this revelation, the new translation is included.
"Earlier plans did not permit the JST to be published piecemeal, yet portions of the translation of Genesis had already been published in The Evening and the Morning Star in August 1832 and in March and April 1833. Then, in July 1833, the Star announced: 'At no very distant period, we shall print the book of Mormon and the [New] Testament, and bind them in one volume.' However, hopes for this were postponed when the printing press in Independence was destroyed the same month.
"As the years passed, the Prophet did not lose interest in publishing the JST, although he was greatly hampered by persecution, the administrative duties of the Church, the lack of financial and material means...
"[By] September 1844 [the JST was still unpublished]. The JST would probably have been next, but the Prophet had been unable to get it published. He worked diligently on it during the closing years of his life when time would permit. Perhaps if he had not been forced to leave the 'spiritualities' of the Church so often to attend to the 'temporalities,' he would have been able to see the translation of the Bible through to publication as he had hoped to do." (Robert J. Matthews, "Joseph Smith's Efforts to Publish His Bible 'Translation,' " Ensign, Jan. 1983, 61)
DC 104:60-68 ye shall prepare for yourselves a place for a treasury
"In addition to the storehouse, two treasuries were organized to receive monies donated to the order. One treasury worked in harmony with the storehouse and was used to take care of the poor, to purchase lands, to build buildings, and to satisfy the needs of the Saints. All monies received from stewardship improvements were placed in this treasury as fast as they were received. (D&C 104:68.) The other treasury, the 'sacred treasury,' contained those things most holy and money earned from the sale of scriptures, holy and sacred writings, and other sacred things. Monies in this treasury were used for printing the scriptures and were consecrated to the Lord for his work. (D&C 104:63-66.) Treasurers were appointed to handle the accounts in each treasury. No one person could take items or monies from the storehouse or treasuries. Access to the treasuries was only by voice of the order's members or by commandment of the Lord. (D&C 104:64-72.) Thus, the storehouse and treasuries belonged to members of the order, and a worthy steward had claim on the storehouse and treasury. (D&C 104:62, 72)" (Susan Easton Black et al., Doctrines for Exaltation: The 1989 Sperry Symposium on the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989], 105 - 106)
DC 104:64 the sacred things shall be had... and a seal shall be upon it
Unpublished, sacred scripture was to be kept with a seal upon it. Doesn't that sound familiar? What were the words of the Lord to the Brother of Jared about the revelation he received? "Ye shall write them and shall seal them up" (Ether 3:22). What about the revelations in Revelation, "I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals" (Rev. 5:1)? In Revelation, only the Lamb could open the seven seals. In the sacred treasury, the seal could be opened by the voice of the order or by commandment from the Lord.
The Brethren were to be very careful with the revelations. Where would we be if we didn't have the Doctrine and Covenants and the Joseph Smith Translation today? The care required to preserve the revelations came by divine mandate according to the divine pattern of protecting them with a seal.
DC 104:72-73 any man among you [may] say to the treasurer: I have need of this to help me in my stewardship
You know that, in this order it is not all putting in, there is some taking out, and that is a point I want to get at; it would be a very nice and beautiful thing if we could carry it out. If, as described in the revelation, we could have a general treasury from which we could all draw what we needed, and then return it, together with our tens, fifties, hundreds and thousands, and all act as one family for the general interest of all, it would be a very beautiful thing; but everybody is not so honest, pure and upright as this state of things demands. If we had a general treasury some would be very willing to go to the treasurer and request so much to enable them, as they would represent, "to carry out their stewardship," and he would have to hand it out to them according to the provisions made in the Doctrine and Covenants; but that would in all probability be the last of it with many. Would you business men like to have a system like that in the United Order? You say you would like this order carried out as it is laid down in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, but I say you would not. Would you like every man, simply because he was a member of the Order, to have power to go to the treasurer and draw out what he thought proper, and use it just according to his fancy? No, you would not, you could not and would not trust your neighbors as far as that, for all men are not capable and all men are not honest and conscientious; if they were we should be nearly ready to be caught up; but we have not reached that point yet, and consequently we have to do the best we can. (Journal of Discourses, 17:179-180)
Now a whole people, enlightened by the principles of High Heaven in regard to these matters-filled with the Spirit of God, with the spirit of understanding, the spirit of philanthropy, every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, having an eye single to the glory of God, putting his means into the Lord's treasury, and no man saying that anything is his, except as a steward before God-would be a pillar of financial strength, a sublime picture of holy union and fraternity, and equal to the most extreme emergencies. Then when any misfortune befalls a man, such as the burning of his property, or failure or trouble in his department of business, he could go to the treasurer and say, "I have need of a certain amount to assist me in my stewardship. Have I not managed the affairs of my stewardship in a wise manner? Can you not have confidence in me? Have I ever misused the means put into my hands? Has it not been wisely controlled? If so, give me means to help me in my stewardship, or to build up this industry that is needed for the general interests of the whole." Well, it is to be given to him. There is confidence reposed in him because of his past conduct, and the course which he has pursued. He has due right in exercising his talents according to the light of the spirit that is within him. He understands fully the circumstances in which he is placed, and governs himself according to the obligations that rest upon him. He is found to be a wise, economical manager; and he is assisted in his stewardship to the extent of the means that he should have.
Now, were the Saints all acting in the spirit of these revelations, what a happy community we would be! We would all be safe, and no man would need remain awake at night thinking what he should do for his family to keep them from begging their bread, or going to the Bishop, which perhaps is only one degree better. And there would be a union that would be in accordance with the union of Enoch and his people, when they were taken to the world above-a union pleasing to the Almighty, and according to the principles of the celestial world. (Journal of Discourses, 20:370-371)
DC 104:74 Until he be found a transgressor... an unfaithful and an unwise steward
If a man was capable of managing merchandise to the amount of one hundred thousand dollars, it would be proper that he should be made a steward over that amount. If a man was not capable of managing extensive concerns, it would be improper to make him steward over a large business. But every man would receive a stewardship in proportion to his capacity to oversee it for the general good. (Journal of Discourses, 20:370)
DC 104:78 concerning your debts-behold it is my will that you shall pay all your debts
President Ezra Taft Benson
Our inspired leaders have always urged us to get out of debt, live within our means, and pay as we go. (" 'Pay Thy Debt, and Live,' " Ensign, June 1987, 3)
President Spencer W. Kimball
All my life from childhood I have heard the Brethren saying, "Get out of debt and stay out of debt." (in Conference Report, Apr. 1975, 166)
President J. Reuben Clark Jr.
Interest never sleeps nor sickens nor dies; ... Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands, or orders; and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you (in Conference Report, Apr. 1938, 103). (Scott Nash, "Understanding Interest on Debt," Ensign, Sept. 1997, 66)
Recently, some of you have placed your money in an investment that has proven to be unwise or unprofitable. Now is an opportunity for you to begin again. Don't let a mistake injure you twice as it does if you harbor a past wrong or injustice and let your anger destroy you.
Some of you have hurt others, bringing pain, fear, and heartache to them. Now is the time to go and express sorrow for what you have done, beg their forgiveness, and whenever possible, restore that which has been taken. When? Now! It is God's design that we pay our obligations. In the Doctrine and Covenants he said, "Behold it is my will that you shall pay all your debts." (D&C 104:78; italics added.) (Hugh W. Pinnock, "Beginning Again," Ensign, May 1982, 12)
Franklin D. Richards
Get out of debt and stay out of debt. In modern revelation, the Lord has given us these commandments: "Verily I say unto you, concerning your debts-behold it is my will that you shall pay all your debts" (D&C 104:78). And again: "Pay the debt thou hast contracted. ... Release thyself from bondage" (D&C 19:35).
President Joseph F. Smith advised the Saints to "get out of debt and keep out of debt, and then you will be financially as well as spiritually free" (In Conference Report, Oct. 1903, p. 5).
In getting out of debt and staying out of debt, there are certain basic principles that we, as individuals and families, can apply, such as:
- Live within your income.
- Prepare and use short- and long-term budgets.
- Regularly save a part of your income.
- Use your credit wisely, if it is necessary to use it at all. For example, a reasonable debt may be justified for the acquisition of a home or education.
- Preserve and utilize your assets through appropriate tax and estate planning.
I know that by following these simple, basic principles it is possible to get out of debt and stay out of debt. ("Personal and Family Financial Preparedness," Ensign, May 1979, 39)
DC 104:79 obtain this blessing by your diligence and humility and the prayer of faith
Gene R. Cook
At a stake conference, Brother Garcia came to me in private and said, "I have a serious problem. I'm unemployed. I'm an engineer." He then told me about his career and the money he had made earlier. He said, "I've been a good member and I've been to the temple. But I have been unemployed for a long time. I went to my bishop for help, and my bishop told me that what I needed was more faith and diligence and to humble myself. Can you believe that?" And then he laughed somewhat sarcastically. (The bishop had helped him and his family with the necessities, but he wanted more.)
This humble bishop, uneducated but most inspired, had given him the correct answer to his problem of unemployment. But he expected some sympathy from me. He was talking to the wrong man.
I could see his was not a humble heart. I told him, "Brother Garcia, you have misunderstood. The Church doesn't plan to help you out at all. In fact, I'm going to tell you that the bishop gave you the right answer right from the scriptures." I was really very blunt with him. Then I tried to give him some direction as to what to do. He said, "As you know, in this country one-third of all men are unemployed. You talk as if with faith and humility all could have jobs. That isn't possible, is it?" I said, "There may be some unemployed from other faiths, but there need not be one among the Latter-day Saints." I bore testimony that the Lord would help him and, shared the passages just mentioned: "Verily I say unto you, concerning your debts-behold it is my will that you shall pay all your debts" (D&C 104:78).
I asked him if he was out of debt. He said no and that he never really had been since he had been married. I told him that he couldn't expect the Lord to be of much assistance if he didn't plan on obeying him. We then read verse 79: "And it is my will that you shall humble yourselves before me, and obtain this blessing by your diligence and humility and the prayer of faith."
I asked, "Brother Garcia, what are the three keys?"
He answered rather sheepishly, "To humble yourself, be diligent, and the prayer of faith."
I then said, "Now, the Lord doesn't usually repeat himself immediately in the next verse, but he did in this case, perhaps because he thought we wouldn't get it," and then we read verses 80 and 81: "And inasmuch as you are diligent and humble, and exercise the prayer of faith, behold, I will soften the hearts of those to whom you are in debt, until I shall send means unto you for your deliverance.
"Therefore write speedily to New York and write according to that which shall be dictated by my Spirit; and I will soften the hearts of those to whom you are in debt, that it shall be taken away out of their minds to bring affliction upon you."
"Brother Garcia," I said, "the Lord will soften the heart of the one to whom you are in debt or the heart of the one who does the employing. Who will send the means for your deliverance?"
He answered, "The Lord."
I said, "Brother Garcia, you will notice that the Lord summarizes it all again in verse 82: "And inasmuch as ye are humble and faithful and call upon my name, behold, I will give you the victory."
I expressed my love and testimony to him and then left him.
I returned to that same city about a year later. In a priesthood leadership meeting, for some reason I began to say something about this fellow, not remembering I was in that very same city. (If I had remembered, I probably wouldn't have been bold enough to talk about it.) I started to say something, without using his real name. Suddenly a man stood up right in the middle of the congregation. He said, "Elder Cook, the man you're talking about is my friend, and he is sitting right here next to me. He's too modest to tell you this, but I will." And then he told this story.
He said Brother Garcia had been so taken aback by our earlier conversation that at first he was offended. Financially things became worse for him. For a month to six weeks, things just went downhill. He then began to think about what the bishop and I had said about humility, diligence, and the prayer of faith. He began to realize that the bishop's counsel was correct and that he should follow it.
He humbled himself to the dust and finally told the Lord, "I will receive any employment you give me."
Sometimes in unemployment situations, we are not humble enough to take whatever work might come as a "starter." But the process won't begin unless we remove our prejudices and conditions and humble ourselves.
The man continued, "He understood that he had to really go out and diligently hustle, which he had not done. He then went in and out of every place searching for employment with the prayer of faith. He was praying and fasting that the Lord would deliver him up a job."
Brother Garcia then stood up himself and continued saying, "You may be surprised to know that the job that came to me was to mow lawns. 'I must sustain my family,' I said to myself." (Here was an engineer who took a job mowing the lawns of some rich man's property. He really had to humble himself to handle that, but he decided to do so.)
He then said, "One year has gone by, Brother Cook, and I'll tell you this glad news. I now have the major operation in this city for handling lawn maintenance. In fact, I was contracted by the municipality about six months after that experience with the bishop, and I now do all the lawns for the whole city. I now have twenty men working for me. (Raising Up a Family to the Lord [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1993], 254-257)
DC 104:80 I will soften the hearts of those to whom you are in debt
"It is refreshing, in this day of doubt and depression, to find a ray of hope touching our financial affairs. Many are in debt, sought by those to whom they owe money; perhaps haled into court because they cannot pay.
When the Lord spoke to his children in these latter days he said:
There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated-
And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated. (D&C 130:20-21)
"A message of hope was given to debtors in the Doctrine and Covenants:
...And inasmuch as you are diligent and humble, and exercise the prayer of faith, behold, I will soften the hearts of those to whom you are in debt, until I shall send means unto you for your deliverance...
And inasmuch as ye are humble and faithful and call upon my name, behold, I will give you the victory." (D&C 104:80-82)
"That was given as a promise. Will not observance of the requirement make this promise effective today?" ("A Promise by Weston N. Nordgren," Improvement Era, 1931, Vol. Xxxiv. September, 1931. No. 11)
DC 104:81 Therefore write speedily to New York
"The Church's unsecured loans were held by New York banks. Here the Lord promises, if Joseph is diligent and humble, to soften the hearts of the lenders to allow him to renegotiate the loans." Stephen E. Robinson, H. Dean Garrett, A Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2001] 3:303)
DC 104:82 Inasmuch as ye are humble and faithful... I will give you the victory
In these days, when the holy Priesthood is restored to us, we have no excuse for saying that our minds are not satisfied, for the blessings are given to us; they are within our reach, and it is your privilege and mine to enjoy them.
I feel to rejoice greatly in the blessings of the Gospel that are given to us, and that we can behold so visibly the hand of God in his dealings with this people. He has fought our battles and given us the victory.
We are all sensible of our imperfections; but, notwithstanding these things, the Lord has been true to his word; he is fulfilling his word, and has been doing this from the beginning. When I look at these things, my heart rejoices, and I feel to give thanks to the Lord and to aid all I can in the building up of his kingdom. We can enjoy the true comforts of the Holy Ghost. We should honor our calling and be true to the covenants we have made. If we attend to our duties and walk humbly before the Lord, we shall be satisfied with life and with the manifestations of the goodness of God unto us. (Journal of Discourses, 8:269)