Lesson 38: Doctrine and Covenants 38:30; 42:30-31, 42; 44:6; 52:40; 56:16-17; 58:26-28; 88:123-125; 104:13-18
I owe an apology to those who have been receiving these by e-mail. I lost the e-mail list. I hope they will be able to find their way here.
Doctrine and Covenants 38:30
To what does “these things” refer? How do we treasure up wisdom in our bosoms? (What is wisdom?) How would the wickedness of men reveal the same things to us that the Lord is revealing here? How would treasuring up wisdom prevent the wickedness of men from revealing these things? What does it mean that the wickedness of men would reveal it with a voice louder than that which will shake the earth? (What voice is it that will shake the earth?) If we are prepared, we need not fear? Specifically, what things might we fear and how can we prepare for them? (What things has this section warned us of and what has it recommended? Those are the things we might fear and the things we must do to prepare.)
Verses 30-31: In speaking of consecrating of our substance “with a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken,” verse 30 clearly has reference to the Law of Consecration, which we are not presently under obligation to practice in the way it was to be practiced in the nineteenth century. But does this verse have a meaning for us anyway? How do we consecrate of our properties to support the poor? To whom do we make such consecrations?
Verse 42: The idea of “idle poor” seems to have a relatively recent origin, probably in the 20th century, because in previous times it was nearly impossible for a poor person to be idle and survive. But if this verse doesn’t refer to the idle poor, to whom does it refer? In the early 19th century and in earlier times, what kinds of people would have been idle? How might we “translate” the meaning of this scripture for our own understanding and circumstances? However, to see a warning to the poor, see D&C 56:17.
Doctrine and Covenants 52:40
What does the word “disciple” mean literally? Why does not caring for the poor and the needy and the sick and the afflicted disqualify us as disciples in that sense?
Verses 16-19: Here are a cursing on the rich and a cursing on the poor–and a blessing on the poor. Why do you think the Lord didn’t include a blessing on the rich?
Verse 16: What does it mean to have a cankered soul? What is the significance of the lament at the end of the verse?
Verse 17: Why are so many more warnings given to the poor than to the rich?
Verse 18: This verse says the fatness of the earth belongs to the poor who are pure in heart, etc. Why to the poor who have these qualities rather than simply to those who have these qualities, poor or not?
Verses 19-20: As it is used here, what does “recompense” mean? Notice that rather than speaking of the Lord giving recompense, this verse says “his recompense shall be with him.” What things might we infer from that phrasing? Why does he say the poor will rejoice? Why will the descendants of the poor inherit the earth?
Verses 26-28: We usually think of sloth as laziness and we don’t usually think of those who do only what they are required to do as lazy. Usually we think of the lazy as those who don’t even do what they are supposed to do. Why is someone who has to be commanded in everything slothful? Why don’t we receive a reward if we only do what we are commanded to do? Couldn’t we complain, “I did everything I was commanded to do”? Does verse 27 suggest that if we do only what we are commanded, then we do not bring forth much righteousness? Why does bringing forth much righteousness require that we do many things of our own free will? How do we balance the requirement that we do many things on our own, that we go beyond doing what is commanded, with warnings not to look beyond the mark or steady the ark? Verse 28 says “the power is in them.” What power is in us?
Verses 123-125: Notice that the specific commandments given in verse 124 are enclosed in commandments to love in verses 123 and 125. Why? How are the commandments given in 124 related to verses 123 and 125?
Verses 13-18: Like the verses in section 42, these verses are about the Law of Consecration. So what do they have to do with us? What are our stewardships, and how do we account for them? Verse 16 says that we must provide for the poor in the Lord’s way. What is that way as he describes it here? What does it mean to exalt the poor and make the rich low? If there is enough in the earth to spare (verse 17) why are so many people impoverished? How do we decide when we have imparted enough of our portion of the Lord’s abundance to the poor?
Anyone who has received their temple endownment has accepted a current obligation to live the Law of Consecration. The only present alteration to the Law of Consecration as revealed in the D&C is that we are not asked to consecrate all of our properties to the Church for redistribution to the poor and to support the Church. Instead we are presently only required to consecrate 10% of our ‘increase’ for the support of the Church. Since the redistributive system is not in place, obviously certain other revealed operational aspects are not in place either. However, all of the casuistic exhortations in the Law of Consecration are currently applicable. In addition, we can derive principles of righteous economic activity even from the operational aspects of the Law of Consecration scriptures which can permit us to evaluate issues of economic justice.
JWL: I hope I didn’t suggest that we do not currently have an obligation to live the Law of Consecration. I certainly didn’t intend to do so, and I thought what I said avoided that suggestion. However, if it didn’t, let me make it clear that I completely agree with your comment.
I think we can fully consecrate all without the particular mechanisms that were used by the earlier saints (and I think you’re suggesting this in principle). Today each must be his or her own keeper of the storehouse, as it were. It’s akin to consercrating yourself to the Kingdom. How do we consecrate our hands to the Lord accept by gving them in the work that He would like to see done? The same principle may be applied to everything else.