If you prefer to listen over reading an article, keep an eye on A Balanced Saint of Mind on YouTube. I post video versions of my blog posts on my channel. The video versions are often posted a little later than the written blog posts.
QUICK IRRELEVANT SIDE NOTE. As I was preparing for this post, I found my mind wandering a ton while attempting to read the sections. There seemed to be a ton of information, and I couldn’t find central themes to follow. It felt like the Lord was jumping around a ton, and as I learned about these sections further, I learned that He was doing exactly that. Some of these revelations are in direct response to what is occurring around the Saints and in answer to the specific questions they’re asking. If you find yourself getting lost as things seem to jump around, I HIGHLY recommend reading the institute manual as you read the sections. It completely changed the revelations because I had context for why the Lord was throwing in different answers.
So many of the Saints have now gathered to Ohio where the Lord promised to give His law. Section 42 became known as “the law” and it was published so that the Saints could all use it. There are a couple of things occurring in Ohio that help us understand why these sections were so necessary. The converts in Ohio were converted by missionaries originally sent to the Lamanites. When the missionaries left, they didn’t really have anyone to follow so things got a little chaotic. People were receiving false revelation and following odd things; many of these people were brand new to the gospel and didn’t have the luxury of being near Joseph Smith or the incoming revelations that would one day become the Doctrine and Covenants.
Lines of Communication
So one of the things that the Lord establishes in these sections is the priesthood line of communication. This is what President Oaks called it back in October 2010. The Lord promised to always guide His church through the prophet, and if the prophet goes astray, he will have his power stripped for him except to designate a new prophet in his stead. When the Lord wants to guide a group of people, He will do it through the proper channels. Even in our day, there are people who claim to be receiving revelations that the prophets and apostles aren’t ready for. There are times that the Lord gives personal messages and revelations to us for us, but those are not meant to be shared and lived by as law for anyone else. In fact, we should often keep those sacred and only share when directed by the Spirit. If the Lord wants to take His church in a different direction, it will come through the general authorities.
There is a second line of communication that Elder Oaks talks about back in 2010; he coins this the personal line of communication. This line is as essential as the priesthood line, and without either line, we can’t ultimately live the Plan of Salvation and become like our Heavenly Parents. The priesthood line helps us determine solidified doctrine. It gives us something that we can test our own personal revelation against, but the personal line is no less important. Without the personal line of communication, we wouldn’t grow. Without the personal line of communication, we would have to follow the priesthood line blindly as sheep and hope that we were following the right spiritual leaders. There would be no need to struggle and push back and figure things out. There would be no way to receive personal guidance that falls outside the realm of general doctrine. For example, the church may give us guidelines about how to choose good friends, but it is the personal line of communication that helps us discern whether our church friend is actually a positive influence OR whether our friend who swears is actually a really good person. Doctrine may be black and white, but people are gray areas with good and bad and so it is the personal line of communication that gives practical guidance when the doctrine doesn’t have specifics.
The sections for this week do not talk a whole lot about this personal line of communication, but there is a reason I brought it up so bear with me and we’ll come full circle.
Providing Means for the Priesthood Line of Communication
One specific policy that the Lord put in place was a way to provide for the prophet and his family.
Doctrine and Covenants 41:7 And again, it is meet that my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., should have a house built, in which to live and translate.
Doctrine and Covenants 43:12-14
12 And if ye desire the glories of the kingdom, appoint ye my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and uphold him before me by the prayer of faith.
13 And again, I say unto you, that if ye desire the mysteries of the kingdom, provide for him food and raiment, and whatsoever thing he needeth to accomplish the work wherewith I have commanded him;
14 And if ye do it not he shall remain unto them that have received him, that I may reserve unto myself a pure people before me.
So Joseph Smith had a ton on his plate. As humans, we have limited resources, energy, and time with which to live our lives. The Lord had very specific purposes for Joseph Smith, and Joseph had his work cut out for him. If he was to complete the work the God had given him, there simply wouldn’t be time for other kinds of work. Plain and simple. Sometimes this may feel interesting because most of our church leadership is composed of volunteers. Our general authorities receive a salary in our day as well (paid from out of the church’s investments, not tithing) because many of them left jobs to come and serve the Lord.
We’re used to most of our clergy being volunteers, but occasionally, church jobs are so time consuming that regular jobs can’t be completed as well.
When we think about what we have received from our general authorities recently (Come Follow Me, family search digitized, home-centered study), we know just how valuable their contributions are. We need them and the work they perform, and they need to be supported in order to continue to give us these contributions.
So the Lord provided a way for Joseph to work on the translation of the bible as well as some of his other duties as prophet. The Saints were to build him a house and provide for him and his family. They had a modest home built on Isaac Morley’s farm after spending a few weeks living with the Newel K. Whitney’s family. Edward Partridge was called as a bishop, and he likewise received a remuneration (or payment) for his services. Though, I will point out, Edward Partridge wasn’t like the traditional bishops of our day.
So the Lord has set a pattern for us. He has provided a way for His full-time leaders to be cared for so that His church can be properly led and cared for. How do we follow this pattern He has set? We follow it with our personal line of communication.
Providing Means for Our Personal Line of Communication
As I mentioned way back at the beginning of this post, our personal line of communication is just as important as the priesthood line of communication. Neither can replace the other. Get rid of either line, and the work of God would be frustrated either through church-wide apostasy or a personal apostasy. The Lord has provided means for the priesthood line; are we providing means for personal line of communication?
Once again, as humans, we have limited resources, energy, and time. We came to earth to become like our Heavenly Father. We didn’t come here to play or become CEO or have the cleanest house or the most popular social media posts. We came here to become like God. Some of resources, energy, and time will go towards play (and that’s important). For some of use, it will go towards social media marketing or working or school, but can you imagine spending all of your resources on things that didn’t include your true purpose?
I once sent my husband to the store to pick up some stuff for dinner. Wanna know what he came back with? A ten pound bag of gummy sharks.
We have to spend our life currency in the most important areas.
Elder Richard G. Scott taught, “Feasting on the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games or social media. You may need to reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God. If so, do it.”
It is so easy to get caught up in worldly things, and I’m not talking about fashion and trends and hashtags. I’m talking about getting so caught up in maintaining our lives that we forget why we even came here to live. Do not get so caught up in your work that you don’t make time for God. Do not get so caught up in digital time that you neglect your relationship with your Father in Heaven who loves and adores and sacrifices for you, who spends numberless hours of time thinking about you. Do not neglect Him.
Follow the pattern of the Lord. Give resources, energy, and time towards your personal line of communication just as He provided means for the priesthood line of communication.