The word "Entitlement" was on my mind in January. Possibly because, as parents, we are trying to rid our children of this ugly attitude which comes from living in an age of bounteous offerings. An article in January's Ensign prompted additional thought and led me to choose this topic as a blog entry. Well, while working through my thoughts and readings my Hubby and I were asked to speak in church. So here is the result of my preparation:
We live in a world of information overload. Not only is information plentiful, it increasingly gets easier and easier to obtain it. In fact, if the information that I am seeking doesn't load as fast as I think it should, then I may tend to get a little frustrated. If you can relate, then maybe I am not the only one who has lost the admiration and awe of this technological informational world and replaced it with more of an expectation instead.
A personal example, one day while finishing up one of my many taxi days as a mom, I received a call from one of my children. The ever present questions were asked: "When are you gonna be home?" and "What's for dinner?" with a "we're starving" thrown in for added emphasis. Not knowing exactly how to answer that second question prompted my response of "I'll pick up a pizza." Now buying pizza is not a frequent occurrence in the Umbrell house, so I wasn't exactly sure where the nearest pizza place was in relation to where I was driving. No problem, I have a "smart phone." Push the microphone button, speak a word or two into my maps app and I should be home in a jiffy to save the day with a pizza in hand. Well, you can probably guess it did not go as expected. I blame the not so smart phone, but my Hubby has seen my map skills in action and he might argue otherwise. Either way, I was not given exactly what was expected and needed at that very moment. It was frustrating. Being a busy mom, aren't I entitled to finding a pizza place in a speedy fashion with as little effort as possible?
This sense of entitlement can infiltrate into our expectations from heaven. Answers to prayers, knowledge and wisdom of God will not come to us by entitlement; we must seek after these things.
"For members of the church, gaining knowledge is not merely a suggestion--it is a commandment. We are to learn “of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad. That ye may be prepared in all things.” (D&C 88:79-80) Joseph Smith taught the Saints that knowledge was a necessary part of our mortal journey, for “a man is saved no faster than he [gains] knowledge,” (Joseph Smith, in History of the Church, 4:588) and that “whatever principle of intelligence we attain … in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.” (D&C 130:18-19) [President Uchtdorf Oct. 2009]
As we ride the information tidal wave of our day, the question will not be whether or not we have enough information to fulfill this commandment. Rather the question will be, is the knowledge we gain from all this information valuable, truthful, and in accordance with heaven, and does it give us wisdom? I like the quote from T.S. Elliot's writing "Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?"
It seems that the knowledge of God's existence, His Son Jesus Christ and His absolute truths of right and wrong are easily lost in all the information that is being presented worldwide. Truly in this age, what ye seek ye shall find. That is why as members we are counseled in the Doctrine and Covenants to "seek ye diligently [out] of the best books words of wisdom, seek learning even by study and also by faith." D&C 88:118
Wisdom is defined as knowledge of what is true or right, coupled with just judgement as to action. Or as I like to say "Knowledge used correctly." Elder Neil L. Andersen says that "reverence for God is the beginning of wisdom." In this quote, reverence is the verb, implying action. Reverence for God is an outward manifestation of an inward feeling of deep respect.
"In the grand division of all of God’s creations, there are things to act and things to be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:13–14). As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we have been blessed with the gift of agency—the capacity and power of independent action. Endowed with agency, we are agents, and we primarily are to act and not only to be acted upon—especially as we seek to obtain and apply spiritual knowledge." Elder David A. Bednar
Years ago I attended a relief society activity that was held as a weekly class dividing up and teaching the seven Lectures on Faith presented by Joseph Smith to the "school of prophets" held in Kirtland Ohio. This gave me an opportunity to ponder more deeply the topic of faith. I learned that not only was faith a hope or belief in something not seen, it also is "the principle of action in all intelligent beings" (Lectures on Faith L1) Together this hope and this action bring about a spiritual power that can be applied to all good areas of life. I put this faith into action and began a diligent study schedule while my baby(at that time) was napping. I clearly remember the day that my efforts were paid in full with a sweet and tender experience that solidified my testimony as my own. No longer did it ride on the tails of another. No longer did it linger in a hope or belief. My foundation of knowledge had become sure.
Reading again from D&C 88:118 "And as all have not faith(or action), seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith" or by action.
A classic example of learning by faith was set forth in August 2005. Members of the church were given the challenge from the First Presidency to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year. In extending the challenge, President Hinckley promised that faithfully observing this simple reading program would bring into our lives and into our homes “an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God.”
I would like to point out that "first, we were not commanded, coerced, or even required to read. Instead, we were invited to exercise our agency and act. President Hinckley, as an inspired teacher, encouraged us to act and not just be acted upon. Each of us had to decide if and how we would respond to the challenge—and if we would endure to the end of the task.
Second, in proffering the invitation to read and to act, President Hinckley was encouraging each of us to seek learning by faith. No new study materials were distributed to members of the Church, and no additional lessons, classes, or programs were created by the Church. Each of us had our copy of the Book of Mormon, and a pathway into our heart opened wider through the exercise of our faith in the Savior as we responded to the First Presidency's challenge. Thus, we were prepared to receive instruction from the only true teacher, the Holy Ghost." (Elder Bednar Feb 2006 Fireside) For by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.(Moroni 5:1)
Searching for truth in a world of information can be related to our family's recent experience of car hunting. There are many different makes and models of cars on the road. Many I have not taken any special notice of, but when we began our own search and we had settled on a particular make we wanted, suddenly I noticed that vehicle everywhere. What made the difference? They were there all along. So it is with absolute truths. They are there all along. The difference is in the effort we put into finding them.
For Adam and Eve receiving truth, information and instruction came from only one source as they walked and talked directly with the Father and His Son. Even after leaving the garden and having a veil placed so that they could not see the Father anymore, they still retained in remembrance knowledge of the existence of God. Adam then passed this knowledge down to his posterity. Generations later, and a very populated earth, has resulted in more than just parents and grandparents having influence on what is being taught.
In this month's Ensign Elder Oaks states "The existence and nature of truth is one of the fundamental questions of mortal life. Jesus told the Roman governor Pilate that He came into the world to “bear witness unto the truth.” That unbeliever(Pilate) responded, “What is truth?” (John 18:37–38)."
I wonder if Pilot's question was posed with genuine desire for truth or if, like often heard in our day, he was saying "what is truth really? To one man it is one thing and to another it is another thing."
In early revelation the Savior declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). In modern revelation, He declared, “Truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come” (D&C 93:24).
In our day, truth is being lost because it does not download at a whim or come from the heavens by speaking a few words with very little effort applied. The only way to know truth is to seek, ask and obey. Then we will come to see that those precious truths were there all along, but they will not come to us by entitlement.
Many are leaving fellowship of the church because a seed of doubt has been planted, and in seeking answers they have only looked for information that will support their decision for disbelief.
If there are seeds of doubt in the heart, I ask that one seek truth from both sides before settling on a decision of disbelief.
Give a loving Father in Heaven the chance to help open an eye of faith and fill the heart with His everlasting love. I have felt this love and not only has it filled a bucket within my heart, it has ignited a flame that will never go out. I know there is a God in Heaven. I know He wants what is best for each individual and I know He will help all who put forth the effort. His love has changed me and has given me an enabling confidence to do good things with my life.
I am thankful for the truths that I have come to know on my own. These include a knowledge that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet. We are not left without guidance in our day, we have living prophets and apostles to relay God's message to His followers. Jesus is the Christ and God is our Father. Of these things I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.