Chapter 17 – The Media
Chapter 18 – The Word of Wisdom
Chapter 19 – Responsibility
Chapter 20 – School and Learning
Chapter 21 – Friends and Peer Pressure
Chapter 22 – Stewardship
Chapter 23 – Idolatry
Chapter 24 – Consecration
PDF VersionChapter_17.htmlChapter_18.htmlChapter_19.htmlChapter_20.htmlChapter_21.htmlChapter_21.htmlChapter_22.htmlChapter_23.html
Chapter 9 – Chastity
Chapter 10 – Obtaining Joy and Satisfaction
Chapter 11 – Fashion  and Modesty
Chapter 12 – Rebellion 
Chapter 13 – Church Meetings
Chapter 14 – Hypocrisy (Sunday-only Mormons)
Chapter 15 – The Sabbath
Chapter 16 – PornographyChapter_9.htmlChapter_10.htmlChapter_10.htmlChapter_11.htmlChapter_12.htmlChapter_13.htmlChapter_14.htmlChapter_14.htmlChapter_15.htmlChapter_16.htmlshapeimage_3_link_0shapeimage_3_link_1shapeimage_3_link_2shapeimage_3_link_3shapeimage_3_link_4shapeimage_3_link_5shapeimage_3_link_6shapeimage_3_link_7shapeimage_3_link_8shapeimage_3_link_9
Chapter 1 – Understanding Isaiah
Chapter 2 – Leaders and Role Models
Chapter 3 – Gangs
Chapter 4 – Fasting
Chapter 5 – Victims of bullying
Chapter 6 – Bullying
Chapter 7 – HomosexualitY
Chapter 8 – DatingPreface.htmlIntroduction.htmlChapter_1.htmlChapter_2.htmlChapter_3.htmlChapter_4.htmlChapter_5.htmlChapter_6.htmlChapter_7.htmlChapter_8.htmlshapeimage_4_link_0shapeimage_4_link_1shapeimage_4_link_2shapeimage_4_link_3shapeimage_4_link_4shapeimage_4_link_5shapeimage_4_link_6shapeimage_4_link_7shapeimage_4_link_8shapeimage_4_link_9

     First we need to know just what consecration is.  According to my dictionary, the word “consecrate” means “dedicated to a sacred purpose. . . .to make or declare sacred: set apart for the service of God. . . .to devote to a purpose with deep solemnity or dedication”1.  In the church, we consecrate our time, talents, and everything the Lord has blessed us with, now and in the future.  This must include money, and property too.  It may seem like a lot to ask until we remember once again that we are stewards and it belongs to the Lord anyway.  Consecration isn’t talked about very much, because the prophet and apostles are trying to get everyone to at least pay tithing faithfully, but it is the goal tithing is to prepare us for, so once we get tithing down there’s nothing preventing us from going on to consecration.  The earlier you start learning about it and trying to practice it, the more prepared you will be.

     We face all sorts of temptations when we try to dedicate our stewardships to the service of God, and Isaiah has lots to say that can help us. 

The Temptation to Think the Lord Blesses Us for the Offerings We Make, Even if We Acquired the Means Dishonestly

For I the LORD love judgment,

     I hate robbery for burnt offering;

and I will direct their work in truth,

and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.

(Isaiah 61:8)

     I hate robbery for burnt offering – This shows us that the only way we can make an honest offering to the Lord is when we offer something for which we have worked.  This means that if you win the lottery, paying tithing on it is not an honest tithe.  If you steal money from your parents and pay tithing on that, the Lord hates that.

     King David understood this very well.  There is a story in 2 Samuel 24:17-25 about how David asked the Lord to end a nationwide pestilence and he was told by the prophet Gad that in order to do that, he had to build an altar in the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite and offer sacrifices to the Lord there.  If David had just gone and built the altar there without asking permission or anything, it would have been robbery.  David went to Araunah and told him that he had to buy his threshingfloor from him to build an altar and offer sacrifices so that the Lord would stop the plague.  Araunah was all ready to just give David everything he needed, the land, the cattle for the sacrifice, the stone for the altar, and even the wood for the fire, but David said this: “Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing”  (2 Samuel 24:24).  So Araunah sold it to him for fifty shekels of silver, and the sacrifice opened the windows of heaven and the Lord ended the plague.

     David demonstrated by his actions that he understood the principle that the Lord only accepts offerings from us from property that we acquire honestly through work.     (work this into the end-of-chapter summary, figure out order better, add transition stuff)

The Temptation to Not Work to Increase and Improve Your Stewardship

The Temptation to Use Your Talents Solely for Your Own Benefit

6 He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root:

Israel shall blossom and bud,

and fill the face of the world with fruit. . . .

(Isaiah 27:6)

     He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root – Here Isaiah is comparing us to a grapevine in the Lord’s vineyard.  If you are a grapevine in the Lord’s vineyard, in order to bear fruit, you must get some roots of your own.  That means you must become rooted in work and become self-reliant.  You can’t go on all your lives sucking the sap from your parents; that would be parasitic.  Just like a plant can’t stand up on its own without being rooted, you won’t be able to be self-reliant without work. 

     Israel shall blossom and bud - Once we are rooted in the principle of work, we will start to be productive, and not just at our jobs, but at home too.  Projects and business ideas and improvements, inventions, crafts, and repairs, all kinds of things will start to blossom in our lives, and as we continue to work and put effort into bringing them about, they will blossom, bud, and eventually bear fruit, what we call the “fruits of our labors”.  We’ve learned that it is right and proper that we should enjoy the fruits of our labors.  But something else happens too.  We will find ourselves with a surplus, more than that we quite know what to do with. (If you’ve ever had a garden with an over-enthusiastic zucchini plant, and had to figure out what to do with all those zucchinis, you will know what this is like.)  This state of surplus is what the world calls “prosperity” and “success”, and they like to think that it is all for them and they should keep it all.  However, this is not what the Lord would have us do.

     Israel shall. . .fill the face of the world with fruit – Once we have satisfied our own needs and modest wants—meaning you are not indulging any taste for extravagance and excess—the Lord wants us to use our stewardship to bless other people too.  He wants us to help as many people as possible, and preferably the whole world.  He wants us to use our time, talents, money, goods, and energy to build His kingdom and alleviate want wherever it can be found.

     One small way we can bless the whole earth is with the surplus material goods we donate.  Did you know there are people in Mozambique whose first real clothing they ever received came from Deseret Industries after only having had rags or sacking to wear?  Did you know that there was a little boy in West Virginia who said he never had more clothing in his life then when the missionaries gave him some pants and shirts?  Did you know clothing donations from Deseret Industries clothed some women shut up in prison in Uganda?  Did you know some people in Angola walked over 120 miles to receive donations from Deseret Industries?2  That is only the beginning of filling the face of the world with the fruit of consecration.

     Another way we give of our surplus is by paying a generous fast offering.  I really like how the church administers fast offerings, because it follows this principle from Isaiah.  The fast offerings gathered in each ward are first used to help that ward, and then anything left is passed on to the stake to fill any deficiencies of other wards in the stake.  Then, if there is a surplus of fast offerings in the stake, that surplus is passed up the line to the general leadership, and they administer fast offering funds wherever they are needed in the rest of the world.  In this way, the surplus fruits of our labor can fill the face of the world with fruit, or as I like to think of it, feed the face of the third world with food (since fast offerings are intended to feed the hungry).

     We make our profits holy by casting them into the Lord’s storehouse for the poor.  This is consistent with latter-day revelation.  “And all this for the benefit of the church of the living God, that every man may improve upon his talent, that every man may gain other talents, yea, even an hundred fold, to be cast into the Lord’s storehouse, to become the common property of the whole church”  (Doctrine & Covenants 82:18). 

     Before a certain time, wards had to raise money to build their own buildings and pay for the ward building utilities and pay for all the ward activities and everything.  It wasn’t that long ago.  I have memories of my parents making and selling pizzas at ward fundraisers when I was young.  Gradually, member’s increasing faithfulness in living the Law of Tithing enabled the general church funds to pay for more of the cost of constructing meetinghouses, until it could pay for it all.  In 1990, President Monson said the following in conference:

Finally, the new local unit budget allowance program will replace local ward and stake budgets, with many costs heretofore borne by individual Church members now being covered. . . . it is now possible for the Church to provide in full to the wards and stakes in the United States and Canada the total costs incident to chapel site purchases; the construction of approved meetinghouses; provision of all utility and maintenance costs, including repairs and renovations; as well as the majority of custodial care of our buildings. This announcement was received with rejoicing, for the amounts of dollars involved were most substantial. Thus, a heavy burden was lifted from the backs of the members—made possible by increased faithfulness in the payment of tithing.3

     President Hinckley also commented on it and essentially told us to be very careful and frugal with the Lord’s funds, to save electricity and water and be careful about watering the lawn and using the telephone, to keep everything well-maintained and attractive, and not be wasteful.4

     Who knows what else will happen as we become more generous and cast our surplus into the Lord’s storehouse to try our faith in the Law of Consecration!

     Could there come a day that so many people donate large fast offerings that church leadership has to scramble to find people to feed with it all?

     Could there come a day when we are not content to get a college education ourselves unless we can help the poor and ignorant in our own communities to receive an education as well? Could there come a day when so many people donate regularly to the Perpetual Education Fund that the church announces that it will pay for higher education costs for all members below a certain income level? 

     Could there come a day when so much is constantly given to the Missionary Fund that the church will announce that it will pay for the missions of those below a certain income level? 

     Could there come a day when we are not content to succeed in business ourselves without helping others start their own businesses and learn how to succeed too? Could there come a day when the church begins to institute business missions for retired business people to counsel members who are trying to start up their own business, and even provides some seed money? 

     Could there come a day that we are no longer content to live in a nice house while a large family a few blocks away is cramped in a one-room apartment, but instead go out and find better housing for them and sacrifice for them? We don’t know.  All we know is that Zion must increase and there are amazing things yet to occur. 

     When faithful individuals innovate ways of consecrating and put them into practice, those methods may become part of church policy.  When he was a stake president, Heber J. Grant had to do some creative things to help the huge numbers of unemployed people in his stake achieve self-reliance during the Great Depression.  His methods have become our current church welfare program as it is now.  However, there are innovations that remain to be added.  (Who knows?  Maybe you will add to it in the course of your future church service!) 

     Another way we give of our surplus is by sharing the gospel with people.  What is the surplus we are giving away?  It is light and knowledge and truth.  The nice thing about sharing truth is that our supply is never decreased.  Instead, in some miraculous way, it is increased as we gain a stronger testimony of what we teach!

     Another way we give of our surplus is by helping others.  It doesn’t have to be in service projects; it can be one-on-one. 

The Temptation to Put Off Consecrating Because You Want Something Similar to What Someone Else Has

The envy also of Ephraim shall depart,

and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off:

Ephraim shall not envy Judah,

and Judah shall not vex Ephraim.

(Isaiah 11:13)

     The envy also of Ephraim shall depart. . . Ephraim shall not envy Judah  - This is a great promise that we must apply to ourselves.  Escaping envy would free us from a large part of Satan’s influence.  Satan uses envy to stop consecration.  Then he uses it to get us to squander our stewardships and get in debt as we try to keep up with the Jones teenagers.  Jesus describes this in the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13 when he says the cares of the world and deceitfulness of riches (represented by thorns) choke the word of God and make it unfruitful.  Envy of others’ riches chokes first our happiness and then our desires to serve God and we end up serving Mammon to try and get rich, instead of consecrating to help others.

     Once Satan has used envy to destroy our peace and desires to serve God, he uses it to get us to be dishonest, and finally to start wars.  You can see the final stage multiple times in the Book of Mormon as the kingmen envy governmental power and start arguments and wars to try to get it, as do the Lamanites.  (see Alma 51:4-19, 54:16-24, 61: 3,8) The Gadianton Robbers were always envying other people, and they murdered and robbed to get what they wanted.  (see Helaman 8:26-28, 11:24-33, 3 Nephi 1:27-30)  There’s a little story of Morianton’s people who tried to claim land from the town Lehi and started a war over it. (see Alma 50:25-36) 

     If we could get rid of envy, we would be more content with what we have, more happy with our lot in life, more intent on doing good (not getting distracted by someone else’s fancy car or new cell phone or video game console, or room).  After Christ had come, Mormon noted this: “And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God”  (4 Nephi 1: 16, emphasis added).

     Why do we envy?  First, because we want. C. S. Lewis wrote, “It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I am so annoyed at someone else being the big noise”.5  When we find we want something and we see someone who has what we want, we start analyzing.  (“Does she really need that?”  “Is he snotty about having that?”  “How much did it cost him?”  “Did she work for that?  How long?”  “Can he really afford that?”)  We’re trying to see if they have what we think are the qualifications to obtain whatever it is; we are judging their worthiness to have it.  We compare it to our own qualifications and if we can’t see any particular worthiness in them equal to or greater than our own, we then make the strange assumption that we are better than they are, and from that we draw the conclusion that we deserve it more than they do.  And from that, resentment and envy sprout like weeds.  

     So tracing backward from envy, we envy because we resent someone having something we want, and we resent it when we think we deserve it more than they do.  And the conviction we deserve it more comes from the thought that we are better than them.  Bingo!  Pride!  I envy Bill Gates his billions because I think I could put them to better use than he does.  I think I would be a better steward than him, so I think I’m better than him.  Pride.  

     But let’s look deeper.  The pride arises from having made a comparison that favors us over the other person.  And the comparison is where we have the greatest tendency to make mistakes.  Let’s look at the example of my envy of Bill Gates.  Do I really know what it takes to be a good steward of a multibillion-dollar computer software business, or even how to get there?  No.  When I start to think honestly about what I would do if I had Bill Gates’ money, I realize that I have no idea how to be a wise steward of it all.  What would I invest in?  What charities would I give to?  How would I deal with taxes?  How would I direct the business and in what direction?  I have no idea.  It becomes plain to me that I am envying for the sake of all the things it could buy for me.  I want it just so I can be a big spender.  So now I see my own inadequacies as a steward and I am humbled.  I can see that Bill Gates’ billions would actually be a huge burden because of my ignorance.  Suddenly envy is gone, and suddenly I am actually thankful that I’m not rich!

     How do we get rid of this cancer of pride disguised as envy?  It requires great honesty and humility.  We need to admit to ourselves that if we had what we covet, we would be just as spendthrift and profligate and idle and obnoxious as those we envy.  It is no good protesting that we wouldn’t, because we know at bottom we would, because after all, it’s what attracted us to it in the first place.

     When I thought about how I would act if I was a movie star, I realized I was pretty egotistical already, and that’s when I realized I would be just as self-centered and spoiled as the movie stars are if I was one myself.  I would have a really difficult time finding clean movies to be in.  I would have a hard time keeping my standards and not getting caught up in the glitz.  Suddenly my envy of movie stars and famous music stars was gone and I was glad I wasn’t one, because I knew I wouldn’t know how to deal with that kind of fame.

     So, the best way to combat envy of other people’s stewardships is to humble yourself by realizing where your own weaknesses as a steward are.

     [A]nd Judah shall not vex Ephraim – As we have seen, it is a great thing to get rid of envy and covetousness, but what if people are deliberately trying to provoke it with what is called “conspicuous consumption”?  This line says that Judah, the entity envied, will stop being such a vexing showoff and stop trying to provoke envy.

     If we apply this to ourselves we see that we also need to stop trying to provoke envy.  Why?  How?  We’ll get into this in detail in just a little bit.

     and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off – If Judah (symbolizing the rich) is not longer a showoff, but shares and consecrates instead, then it stands to reason that all the people fighting to try to take away their riches would also bury the hatchet.  Class envy and class warfare would then cease.

     Here’s a small example of this from my family.  My dad had a large cabinet down in the basement that he always locked his goodies in so that we wouldn’t steal them.  (We weren’t very good at respecting someone else’s dessert stewardship, you see.)  He had bottles of IBC root beer in there, boxes of nice chocolates, licorice, a supply of candy bars, and more.  He even kept some cool toys in there.  If he had wanted, he could have hogged it all for himself.  But he didn’t.  Whenever he felt like having something from his cabinet, he would share some with all of us too.  Because he always shared, we never, ever resented that he kept his goodies locked away from us.  Whenever we heard him going down into the basement, we all came running down too, because the odds were that among other things he would go to his cabinet and bring out some treats.

     What would this world be like if every time someone rich went on vacation they also paid for a poor family to go on vacation too?  Or what if every time someone rich redid their décor they also paid for a poor family to redo their décor too?  I think resentment of the upper class would die really quick.

     Another chilling meaning of this line about the adversaries being cut off is that the people who are “cut off” have been destroyed by the Lord’s fiery presence when He comes, because their envious pride made them filthy and extremely flammable, unable to abide His coming.  This gives us another good reason to rid ourselves of envy as soon as possible.

     Now, back to the topic of showing off.

The Temptation to Show Off the Cool Stuff You Have

1 At that time, Merodach-baladan,

the son of Baladan, king of Babylon,

sent letters and a present to Hezekiah:

for he had heard that he had been sick,

and was recovered. 

2 And Hezekiah was glad of them,

and shewed them the house of his precious things,

the silver,

and the gold,

and the spices,

and the precious ointment,

and all the house of his armour,

and all that was found in his treasures:

there was nothing in his house,

nor in all his dominion,

that Hezekiah shewed them not.

3 Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah,

and said unto him,

What said these men?

And from whence came they unto thee?

And Hezekiah said,

They are come from a far country unto me,

even from Babylon.

4 Then said he,

What have they seen in thine house?

And Hezekiah answered,

All that is in mine house have they seen:

there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shewed them.

5 Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah,

Hear the word of the LORD of hosts:

6 Behold, the days come,

that all that is in thine house,

and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day,

shall be carried to Babylon:

nothing shall be left,

saith the LORD.

(Isaiah 39:1-6)

     Here we see Isaiah declaring to King Hezekiah the Lord’s punishment for being a showoff.  That there is a punishment shows us the Lord doesn’t like it when people show off to provoke envy.  The punishment is quite appropriate; if you show it off, it gets taken away from you.

     Why do we show off?  Because we’re proud of whatever it is we’re showing off.  (There’s that pride again!)  We show off to obtain higher status in the eyes of others.  We want to impress. King Hezekiah was showing off to try to increase his status and that of his kingdom in the eyes of his important Babylonian visitor.  (Evidently he succeeded so well that his kingdom got pushed to the top of the Babylonian army’s “hit list”.)  The struggle for status is the problem. We all have equal, infinite worth as children of God, and for any one of us to esteem ourselves above or below another in worth is expressly repugnant, abhorrent, and odious in the eyes of God. 

     King Hezekiah was supposed to be building a people different from all other nations, where generosity replaced showing off and charity replaced pride.  He was supposed to act and rule according to the laws of God and prepare the people to be God’s people.  It is no wonder the Lord was displeased with his mess-up of showing off.

     I had a lot of troubles seeing that there was something wrong with showing off.  It seemed so harmless.  It was so fun.  It was so common!  (Don’t we all love to show off what we have and what we can do and what we did and who we know and where we’ve gone on vacation and where we live?  Of course!)  I did a lot of soul-searching.

     As I was trying to get my mind and heart around the idea “showing off = bad”, I kept wondering what was so wrong about it.  I started to make progress when I started thinking in terms how showing off would affect my ability to consecrate.  That’s when I realized how bad it was—showing off destroys consecration!

     Notice in the following scripture how pride and showing off are related and how they destroy consecration: “And now I, Mormon, would that ye should know that the people had multiplied, insomuch that they were spread upon all the face of the land, and that they had become exceedingly rich, because of their prosperity in Christ.  And now, in this two hundred and first year there began to be among them those who were lifted up in pride, such as the wearing of costly apparel, and all manner of fine pearls, and of the fine things of the world.  And from that time forth they did have their goods and their substance no more common among them.  And they began to be divided into classes…”  (4 Nephi 1:23-26) 

     The first thing that happened was some people were lifted up in pride (thinking they were better and more deserving than the others), so they started showing off with fancy clothes and jewelry.  C. S. Lewis wrote, “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man”.6  They weren’t content to all be exceedingly rich in Christ’s prosperity, they had to have more to show they were better.  Buying things to show off used up their surplus, so nothing was left to consecrate.  They probably rationalized it with the excuse, “I deserve it more than anyone else anyway, because I work harder than anyone else!”  Human nature being what it is, the showing off undoubtedly provoked others to envy and imitation.  (“I want to have that stuff too!  I’ll just keep back a little extra for myself so that I can afford it.”)  And all at once, they were no longer equal and unified, but started to be divided into classes.  Cliques.  Clubs.  No more unity and equality.  Division and stratification.  Exclusion.

     This is very interesting.  We see here that pride is just as involved in showing off as it is in envying.  In fact, it is at the very root of both. 

     So now we have to think about what we need to do instead of showing off.  Rather than showing off, we need to cultivate delicacy for others’ feelings, which is an aspect of charity.  This is one of those many ways that we have to be different from the world.  The whole world loves to show off.  We must hate it.  Christ said, “for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15). 

     One way we can avoid showing off is by being “modest” in our expenditures, meaning we do not make our buying choices based on whether it will allow us to show off.  It also means we are neither extravagant spenders nor miserly, and do not call attention to the amount of resources in our command. 

     Another way we can avoid showing off is by being careful in our conversation.  It may mean we refrain from telling where we are going on vacation or where we have been on vacation, except maybe to advise someone going to the same place where to go or even where not to go.  It might mean we don’t tell people about what we have bought, except maybe to share how the Lord helped us to find what we needed.  It may mean we don’t tell people about the fabulous grades we got and instead help them understand concepts they missed on their tests and homework.  It means that rather than boasting about what you can do, you tell someone what you will do for them.  (If you are starting to wonder what you’ll find to talk about once showing off has been removed from your conversation, that should tell you something—if showing off takes up of the bulk of our conversation with others, our powers of conversation must be truly.. um.. poor.)

     How will this delicacy and modesty help others?  It keeps those with less from envying us, and keeps those with more from pride and scorn.

     Here’s a tricky question.  How can we know the difference between showing off and letting our light shine?  Showing off is all about trying to establish or increase worldly status; it’s very competitive, and loves to make comparisons and then base others’ personal worth based on those comparisons!  Very bad, very bad.  Letting your light shine, on the other hand, is about leading others to Christ by your example and is not concerned with worldly status, and is even willing to lose worldly status if it wins God’s approval.

     What should we do when other people show off?  We can tell them we’re happy for them and rejoice in their success.

The Temptation to Think You’ll Be Satisfied If You Can Just Buy One More Thing

It shall even be as when an hungry man dreameth,

     and, behold, he eateth;

          but he awaketh,

               and his soul is empty:

or as when a thirsty man dreameth,

     and, behold, he drinketh;

          but he awaketh,

               and, behold, he is faint,

               and his soul hath appetite:

so shall the multitude of all the nations be, that fight against mount Zion.

(Isaiah 29:8)

     We dream about the stuff we want and we dream that we’ll be happy once we’ve bought that thing for which we hunger and thirst.  We feel like we’ll die if we don’t have it, just like our body feels like it will die if it doesn’t get food when it is hungry.  (Hmmm, sounds a lot like greed again, doesn’t it?)  We plot and we plan and wangle and put all this energy into figuring out how we are going to get it.  Once we get it, we feel satisfied for a little while, and then we wake up and find we are still hungry and soon we start dreaming of other things that we want. 

     [S]o shall the multitude of all the nations be, that fight against mount Zion - How does the dreaming described above fight against mount Zion?  Firstly, all the time we spend selfishly dreaming and scheming to get stuff we want takes away from the time we could be dreaming and scheming to build Zion.  Secondly, one of the characteristics of Zion is that there is “no poor among them” (Moses 7:18).  If we are always buying stuff for ourselves, are we administering to the needs of the poor and needy?  Nope.  If administering to the needs of the poor narrows the gap between the poor and the rich, then buying stuff only for ourselves all the time widens it.  That’s fighting against Zion. 

     Part of the solution to the hunger is quite counter-intuitive.  We need to follow Jacob’s counsel when he said “Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you.”  (Jacob 2:17) 

     I’ve read of people who are so free with their belongings that if someone even expresses admiration for something they have, they give it to them.  I remember when I read that I was so impressed.  I wondered could I be that generous?  It was scary, but I wanted to try to do it.  I started small.  The first time, I gave away my favorite pair of earrings to a woman who needed a nice pair of earrings to wear at her son’s wedding.  It was a tiny bit easier than I thought it would be.  And the cool thing was that whenever I found myself starting to be sad that I didn’t have those earrings any more, I would remember that I gave them away so that someone else could have nice jewelry too, and that would make me very happy again.  My hunger was actually satisfied by giving, instead of getting!  And each time I thought about it, I was just as satisfied as when I did it. 

     Then I graduated to the point that I was able to give away a necklace to someone who complimented me on it.  That made me feel even better. 

     Then I found myself in a dilemma.  Satan began to whisper to me, “Now you won’t be able to keep anything you want, because people will always be complimenting you and you’ll have to give up everything you like!”  I knew Satan was displeased and wanted to stop me from giving any more so that I wouldn’t have any more reason to be happy.  I was able to quench his threats because I had tasted the supreme satisfaction and joy of giving and I wanted that joy more than any thing.  “If I have a choice between keeping my favorite things and having that joy of giving, I’ll give up anything for that joy!”

     An interesting change occurred in my attitude toward my stewardship as a result of this.  I found I was much more content with it.  I now know that giving loosens the hold of your possessions upon you and it also brings real contentment.  Try it yourself and find out what it is like!

The Temptation to Think that Achieving Equality is Impossible

     Isaiah was very excited about building Zion and achieving equality through consecration.  You can tell when he starts painting such broad, sweeping pictures as the following:

Every valley shall be exalted,

and every mountain and hill shall be made low:

and the crooked shall be made straight,

and the rough places plain:

(Isaiah 40:4)

     This scripture, when read in connection with consecration, shows us what the effect of living the Law of Consecration is.  It exalts the poor (referred to by Isaiah as valleys), and humbles the rich and proud (who Isaiah calls “mountains and hills”).  It puts the crooked (ex-convicts?) back on the straight and narrow (by giving them an honest way to earn a living so they can “go straight”), and it smoothes the way for those with a hard, rough life so that they can learn how to earn a better living. 

     Doctrine & Covenants 70:14 says, “Nevertheless, in your temporal things you shall be equal, and this not grudgingly, otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit shall be withheld.”  Equality should be our goal.  The Lord has commanded us to be equal and He always provides a way for us to keep His commandments.  If you see someone less privileged, try to find a way to give so that they are brought up and you bring yourself down and the two of you meet in the middle at equality. 

     I heard of a girl whom I’ll call Stacy, who learned that one of her classmates couldn’t afford to fix her car.  This classmate was also having troubles putting food on the table and working at the same time she was going to college.  Stacy wanted to do something to help.  When Stacy’s birthday came around, instead of asking for something for herself, she asked if she could arrange for her classmate’s car to get fixed.  She arranged with her teacher to be the go-between and she arranged for the mechanics to bill her instead of her classmate and she made sure that none of them told her classmate who was doing it.  She even used part of her scholarship to pay for it herself.  Stacy told me that was the best birthday present she ever got, and she wants to do something similar for her future birthdays.  She said, “I asked myself why I wanted to do this so badly, and it was because I could see how lucky I was to have a car to drive, with air conditioning that worked, and I couldn’t bear that this other girl should not have the same.” 

     At this point you may be wondering, “But Sister Stephens, to what extent should we ‘bring ourselves low’ to help others?”  I’d say, do it to the extent that you can without grudging and continue to make equality your goal.  If you start small, you’ll be able to work up to bigger stuff in time and you’ll find yourself happily giving freely in a way that is astounding (and even frightening) to those around you.  I can tell you from my own experience this is true.  Don’t worry so much about how you may be inconvenienced, but rather concentrate on how you can help others. 

     Christ set the example for us.  Paul wrote, “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich”  (2 Corinthians 8:9).  The only way that Christ could command the rich man with authority to sell his goods and give to the poor was if He himself had done the same.  He faced all the material temptations we face, and overcame them, and made himself poor to help others.  The rich man Christ advised, however, could not follow Christ’s directions and went away sad, probably worried about the worldly advantages he would give up, rather than seeing the great benefit to others he could be.

     Christ wasn’t the only one who made Himself poor to help others.  The Book of Mormon tells of people in the church who did this when Alma the Younger was the chief judge.  “. . .others were abasing themselves, succoring those who stood in need of their succor, such as imparting their substance to the poor and the needy, feeding the hungry, and suffering all manner of afflictions, for Christ’s sake, who should come according to the spirit of prophecy”  (Alma 4:13, emphasis added);

     The first step in abasing ourselves is to change our purchasing habits.  If we are really serious about wanting to try to help other people, we will find all kinds of creative ways to change our spending.  You’ll find that using your resources to help others is a lot more fun than spending it on yourself and that will go a long way towards curbing any extravagant spending habits.  (I was quite a shop-aholic before I discovered this and now I’m a lot more careful.)  You’ll be content with what you have and your priorities will change from self-centered to God-centered, Zion-centered, and other-centered, and you will find out how much fun it is and how happy you can be doing it!  (This is real “chosen generation” stuff!)

The Temptation to Think That What You Have to Give is So Small It Couldn’t Possibly Make a Difference

The Temptation to Consider Yourself Too Poor to Make an Offering to the Lord But Rich Enough to Get Something Expensive For Yourself

18 To whom then will ye liken God?

Or what likeness will ye compare unto him?

19    The workman melteth a graven image,

     and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold,

     and casteth silver chains.

20        He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation

     chooseth a tree that will not rot;

     he seeketh unto him a cunning workman

     to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved.

(Isaiah 40:18-20)

     This scripture is very helpful in revealing another indication of idolatry.  (You probably thought we were completely done with the idolatry issue, didn’t you.  I did too.)

     He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved - There were people in Isaiah’s day that excused themselves from offering oblations (religious offerings) on the grounds that they were too poor… and then they would go out and have someone custom-make an idol for them out of the most durable and expensive of materials!  None of your cheap, mass-produced product for them; they wanted something extra special! 

     This shows us that if we have the money to pay for something fancy we want, we also have the money to make an offering to the Lord.  (And by offering, I mean in addition to tithing).  It tells us that we are really never too poor to be able to make an offering to the Lord.  In fact, the poorer we are, the more the Lord is pleased with us if we make an offering, because what we give is a greater proportion of our stewardship.  Remember the poor widow who gave her two mites to the temple treasury?  (Mark 12:41-44) The widow didn’t keep her mites to buy a little something for herself, she gave it to God as an offering.

     This has got me thinking.  What do we do with our spare change?  Do we use it to get some pop or candy or do we make some kind of offering to the Lord?  This would help us avoid idolatry and get better at consecration, because it would get us to think about the Lord before we think about ourselves.

     Many years ago when the church was commanded to build the temple in Kirtland, Ohio, the saints were extremely poor and few had money to give to assist.  But it is interesting to note that the women donated their fine china to be broken, ground up, and mixed with the plaster so that the exterior of the temple would gleam and sparkle in the sun.  I’d heard that story many times before I realized those women were so poor that they had no money, and yet... they had sets of fine china!  That they would give up their china showed that they were willing to give what they had, even if money itself was scarce.  They didn’t make their china into an idol, but instead made it into an offering to the Lord.

     What kind of offerings are acceptable to the Lord?  Pretty much anything.  What do you have that you could give?  Anything that has been given to you as a stewardship - time, talents, money, space, labor, all kinds of stuff.  What if you offered your cleanest music CDs to your stake to use for stake dances?  That is a good offering.  What if you gave your extra clothing to the church’s Deseret Industries?  That is a good offering.  Give loose change.  Give blood.  Tutor in school.  Go on splits with the missionaries.  Help people move.  Comfort a crying child.  

The Temptation to Find Excuses Not to Give or Help

5 The vile person shall no more be called liberal,

nor the churl said to be bountiful.

6 For the vile person will speak villany,

and his heart will work iniquity,

to practise hypocrisy,

and to utter error against the LORD,

to make empty the soul of the hungry,

and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail.

7 The instruments also of the churl are evil:

he deviseth wicked devices

to destroy the poor with lying words,

even when the needy speaketh right.

8 But the liberal deviseth liberal things;

and by liberal things shall he stand.

(Isaiah 32:5,7-8)

     The instruments also of the churl are evil: he deviseth wicked devices to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaketh right  - Here is one of the most condemning and common traits of idolatry—finding excuses (devising wicked devices) to not give.  Those wicked devices usually consist of trying to find fault with the needy person and show that they are not worthy of help.  Isaiah says in verse 5 that sooner or later people catch on to these people and then, “The vile person shall no more be called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful.”

     But the liberal deviseth liberal things - There are also those who are liberal and generous, who are always busy thinking up reasons and ways to give.  This is what we should be doing.

     One great example of devising liberal things is Joseph Smith.  When he was mayor of Nauvoo, a man was brought to him who had been convicted of the charge of public drunkenness.  The man did not have the money to pay the fine.  The prophet said that it was the law and the fine must be paid.  So he gave the man his horse and told him to sell it and pay the fine.  To me, that is the modern equivalent of giving someone your car. 

     [A]nd by liberal things shall he stand  - As part of the Law of Restoration, that which the liberal person sends out returns to them right when they need it themselves, and by others’ liberality they maintain their place.

The Temptation to Take From the Poor and the Weak

To turn aside the needy from judgment,

and to take away the right from the poor of my people,

that widows may be their prey,

and that they may rob the fatherless!

(Isaiah 10:2)

     This is another indication of idolatry – taking things from people poorer and weaker than you, even though they need it more. 

     It is really tempting to do this, because the poor and the weak can’t defend themselves.  They are also relatively unsophisticated, which makes them easy to trick.  However, it is definitely wrong.  If we steal from those most in need, that is a strong signal that we care more about stuff we can get than we do about helping people in need.  

     When I was a teenager, I didn’t know about this scripture.  If I saw my younger siblings with something I liked, I thought nothing of helping myself to it.  I’ll never forget when I found the silver dollar that my little brother had squirreled away in the corner of his bedstead.  It was protected in a special plastic case to prevent it from getting marred by fingerprints.  I was curious and took it out and handled it and then put it back.  The next time he went to look at his silver dollar he saw that someone had left fingerprints on it and he absolutely hit the ceiling!  I couldn’t see what he was so upset about, because I had believed it was my right as the oldest child to be able to get into my younger siblings stuff as much as I wanted to, but this was wrong.  In time I realized that I had robbed my brother of the right to be secure in his stewardship. 

     Here’s another application, and you’re probably not going to like it, but it has to be said.  How fair is it to expect one of your friends to give you a birthday gift if you know their family is less well off than yours?  Not very.  In fact, Isaiah seems to suggest that it is just plain wrong.  It is better to get no gifts at all than to obligate someone poorer to gift you.  

The Temptation to Think You Could Make a Mistake and Consecrate Too Much or Consecrate the Wrong Thing

And an highway shall be there,

and a way,

and it shall be called The way of holiness;

     the unclean shall not pass over it;

but it shall be for those:

the wayfaring men, though fools,

shall not err therein.

(Isaiah 35:8)

     And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it  - This scripture, as it relates to learning how to discern what our surplus is, tells us that when we are on the path of learning to consecrate, we are on the path of holiness and on the way to godliness.  It’s simply impossible to consecrate it unless you’ve been purified of greed and envy. 

     [T]he wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein  -  One of the difficulties of deciding what’s surplus is that we are afraid we will make a mistake.  We fear that after we give away something we haven’t used or needed for a long time we will suddenly need it again.  And it happens.  I’ve had it happen to me and I had to work really hard to keep it from scaring me away from giving other things away.  However, this line tells us that there are no mistakes when we’re on that path even when we’ve done something foolish.  It doesn’t matter if you find yourself needing what you previously gave away.  Giving it away was still the right choice to do, because it was generous.  Generosity is an aspect of love, and love is the higher law.

     I’ll give you an example of a time when I consecrated foolishly, yet did not make a mistake.  I had a neat necklace with shiny pearly beads I liked to wear with a black dress, because it really looked distinctive.  However, I’m a color person, so I didn’t wear that dress very often.  So of course I didn’t wear the necklace very often either.  After a while, I started to think, as I often do, that I wasn’t wearing that necklace very much so it was a good candidate for donation.  The next time I wore it to church, a lady in the ward made really enthusiastic noises about how much she liked the necklace.  After she left, I gave it to her husband to give to her.  I knew she really liked it because she wore it to church a lot.  I was really happy I had given it to her. 

     Then the time came that I decided I wanted to wear that black dress again.  But I didn’t have my necklace to wear with it.  I realized that the whole reason I liked to wear that black dress was because of how it looked with the necklace I had given away.  I thought that I had perhaps been foolish to give away my necklace.. BUT I knew that I had done the right thing to be generous, so in that respect, I had not made a mistake.  And because it was not a mistake, it was okay, even preferable to give foolishly, rather than not give at all.  (How’s that for flying in the face of the world’s wisdom?)  In the end, I gave the black dress away too, since I didn’t like to wear it anymore without the necklace I gave away.

     Here’s another example of “foolish” but unmistaken consecration.  When my husband and I moved into our house that we are renting right now, the house didn’t have connections for our gas dryer, only electric connections.  We had to go out and get an electric dryer.  Our gas dryer sat in our garage unused until just recently when I decided it was ridiculous to have an extra dryer sitting around doing nothing.  I wanted to be generous, so I decided to give it away for free so that someone who really needed it could have it.  I put an ad in in their “free” section, and I didn’t have to wait long before people started calling.  When the guy to whom I promised it came to pick it up, I was taken aback when he confided he was going to sell it for scrap and it would be crushed up.  Here I had visions of some poor family rejoicing that their clothes could be dried in their own real clothes dryer, and now he tells me the dryer will be scrapped.  Disappointment!  Tragedy!  Wretchedness!  I felt like I had been very foolish.  I thought, “I should have called the Relief Society president or the bishop and asked them if anyone needed a dryer”, and I was very depressed for about five minutes… until… I remembered that I was helping that man earn some money, and that recycling steel was definitely better than having it end up in a landfill.  I had been very foolish in the way that I had gone about giving the dryer away, but I hadn’t made a mistake in giving.  And I had learned what I should do instead.

     In time I’ll get smarter at giving, but in the meantime, it is comforting to know that giving foolishly does not mean giving is a mistake.  You have to learn to give and practice giving before you can learn how to give wisely.  When the Lord sees us trying to give, He will help us find wiser ways to give.  (Just remember that the Lord’s ways are higher than the world’s ways.)

     [T]he wayfaring men, though fools – Another thing this line tells us is that it is very important to recognize who it is that calls us “fools” for consecrating.  It is the world.  It is Satan. 

     The world will call us foolish, because they do not understand what we understand – that we are all merely “wayfaring men” journeying through this life toward the next glorious one.  The world only thinks about the comforts of this life, so of course they will think we are foolish for consecrating so freely and abasing ourselves to help the poor.  

     Satan also will call us “fools” when we consecrate.  He will put thoughts in our minds trying to make us think we were stupid to consecrate, that there were so many better uses for our money or time or talents or stuff than to give it to Zion.  He will try to make us feel insecure without some kind of huge financial safety net.  He will try to make us feel ashamed of our standard of living and try to get us to compare ourselves with others and try to provoke envy in our hearts.

     This scripture makes us strong enough to withstand the derision of the world and Satan when we consecrate.  I know this, because I’ve used it for that purpose myself.  I know it can help you too.  Even foolish consecration is wiser than the wisdom of men or devils.

The Temptation to Think That Consecrating Means You Won’t Have Enough Left for Yourself

     In the chapter about Stewardship, I briefly pointed out where the Lord promised to fasten the good steward Eliakim “as a nail in a sure place” (Isaiah 22:23), and I said that this meant security.  This promise of security is also what the Lord will do for us if we are consecrating our surplus and abase ourselves for others.

17 When the poor and needy seek water,

and there is none,

and their tongue faileth for thirst,

I the LORD will hear them,

I the God of Israel will not forsake them.

18 I will open rivers in high places,

and fountains in the midst of the valleys:

I will make the wilderness a pool of water,

and the dry land springs of water.

19 I will plant in the wilderness the cedar,

the shittah tree,

and the myrtle,

and the oil tree;

I will set in the desert the fir tree,

and the pine,

and the box tree together:

20 That they may see,

and know,

and consider,

and understand together,

that the hand of the LORD hath done this,

and the Holy One of Israel hath created it.

(Isaiah 41:17-20)

     When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them – If we are always trying to give our surplus, there will be times when we find ourselves in need.  (The world is soooo afraid of this happening.  There are people so terrified of being in need that they hoard everything just in case another Great Depression comes around.  They trust in their stuff, rather than the Lord.)  The Lord promises that if we’ve been wise and generous stewards, He will hear us when we pray for help, and He won’t forsake us.  Here is what the Lord will do for us:

     I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water - If tithing opens the windows of heaven and pours us out a blessing that there’s not room for, then consecration opens the doors of heaven and absolutely floods us.  (It stands to reason that if consecration is a higher law than tithing, then consecration blessings are way cooler than tithing blessings too.)  Furthermore, you don’t have to wait for the United Order to be reinstituted to consecrate, because these blessings are for individuals, and are completely separate from the social benefits of a community living it.  The promise is this: if you are always trying to notice and meet others’ needs, the Lord will be very quick to notice and meet your needs.  That is real security that is better and brings more joy than billions in the bank ever could bring.  I know this is true, because I have experienced it myself over and over and over, and it is a wonderful, fabulous thing to see! 

     I told you about how I really liked rollerblading.  Well, for the longest time, I didn’t have rollerblades of my own.  One day I was enjoying a walk and a thought went through my mind that I would really like a pair of rollerblades.  I quickly squashed it, thinking that rollerblades were expensive, and I didn’t know if I would really use them very often, and I couldn’t have everything I wanted.  A month later or so, our ward had a swap meet, and I brought my surplus stuff to it, and in looking around at the things other people had brought, I found a pair of rollerblades! I was so thrilled, I exclaimed, “I’m rich!”  I rollerbladed around the church parking lot for the rest of the time I was there, and I took them home with me.  I was filled with gratitude to the person who had given them up, and I felt like the Lord had heard my secret desire and decided that He wanted me to have rollerblades. 

     I told you in a previous chapter about how one summer I paid all the money I was earning as tithing first and then trusted the Lord to help me pay for my schooling that year.  The Lord provided me with a better job with the mosquito control company, He provided the weather to make lots of work for me, and He helped me find an on-campus job during that school year at which I met the man I married. 

     There are examples in the Old Testament of the Lord providing in miraculous ways.  One was when the widow of Zarephath was willing to feed Elijah the prophet with the very last bit of food she had.  He said, “Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.  And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it and die.  And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.  For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth.  And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days.  And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah” (1 Kings 17:11-16).

     How about in the New Testament?  If Christ consecrated and even made Himself poor for us, how did Heavenly Father provide for Him?  If you read very carefully through the four gospels, you start to notice how He was blessed.  Even though he didn’t have a place to live, people invited Him to dinner a lot and let him stay at their houses.  When He needed a donkey to ride on for His triumphal entry to Jerusalem, someone let Him use their donkey.  When He needed a place to celebrate the Passover, someone let Him use their room that they had prepared.  When Peter committed to paying tribute money, Christ somehow knew that He could send Peter fishing and the first fish would have money in its belly enough to pay the tribute.  Even after Christ was crucified, His burial and tomb was provided by a rich man. 

     What about the poor widow who gave all her living to the temple treasury?  (Mark 12:41-44) We have no idea what became of her.  However, we know that Christ was very pleased with her, and pointed her out to His disciples.  If Christ was pleased with her, you can bet Heavenly Father was also pleased with her and made sure she was provided with what she needed. 

     If you were to use your lunch money to feed other hungry people, your parents won’t let you go hungry just because your lunch money is used up extra fast.  In the same way, the Lord won’t let you go without what you need if you give.  (You can see now that if you were to go hungry anyway and sacrifice so someone else could eat – fasting – Heavenly Father would be extra pleased with you and provide you with what you need.)

     The New Testament is absolutely chock full of the teachings of Christ about this promise.  “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what he shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.  Is not the life more than raiment?  Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.  Are ye not much better than they?  Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?  And why take ye thought for raiment?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:  And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?  Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat?  or, What shall we drink?  or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?  (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”  (Matthew 6:25-33).     

     Stuff and money isn’t the only thing we can consecrate and be blessed for. What about consecrating our time?  As I wrote these last three chapters, I consecrated four hours out of every weekday to work on them, as if it were a part time job working for the Lord.  At the same time, I was going to school, taking several engineering classes that required a lot of time for their homework.  I also consecrated a few hours during each week to go to the temple with my husband, and time for three different church callings, as well as visiting teaching.  The Lord blessed me for consecrating my time by helping me accomplish what I needed to do in the remaining time.  Not only that, but He helped me do it extra efficiently so that I had a little time left over.  This was an amazing blessing to me, and I know that it was because I was giving freely of my time to His service.  Before I started consecrated my time, it seemed to me that little annoying things were always happening that wasted my time and kept me from doing things as quickly as I wanted to.  But while giving that extra four hours Monday through Friday, many of those annoyances disappeared.  I have often been troubled by a bad habit of going to bed very late at night and getting up too late.  In my effort to give of my time, I decided that the best time for my writing was the early hours of the morning and when I started getting up at 5 AM, I found I simply could not go to bed much later than 9 PM, so consecrating my time brought greater discipline and moderation to my sleep habits, which was what I needed badly.

     Finally, it is hard to explain adequately the spiritual blessings that come from consecrating.  I am happy, and at peace.  I am perfectly aware of the Lord’s watchfulness over me.  It seems incredible that it is possible feel the eyes and attention of the Lord upon me, but it is true, and the sensation is one of great security, because I trust that He will order all things for my good, that He will keep me safe so that I can serve Him further, that He will open the closed doors and guide me through any difficulty.  I never had this before, and I never want to lose it.

     I know that you can achieve these great blessings too, by consecrating your time, your talents, your money, your stuff, all that is surplus.  I wish with all my heart that you could feel the wonderful things I feel, and experience the amazing wonder of seeing the Lord meet your needs when you give your surplus to meet others’ needs.  “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.  For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” (Luke 6:38).  To the same extent you are generous to others, the Lord will be to you.

The Temptation to Feel Insecure Without Extra Parts or Stuff to Help When Things Break

In measure,

when it shooteth forth,

thou wilt debate with it:

     he stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind.

(Isaiah 27: 8)

     You’ve seen this scripture before about debating about your stewardship, but this time, I’m showing you the last line of it, which shows the blessing that is attached when we have those stewardship debates, figure out what our surplus is, and give it to the Lord’s storehouse. 

     [H]e stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind – If the east wind is the destroying wind, then this scripture is saying that when the time comes that our stuff should be starting to break, the Lord will keep it from breaking.  (And the better we have taken care of our stewardships, the easier it is for Him to fulfill this promise.)  In Malachi, after the promise of tithing stating that the windows of heaven will pour out a blessing, it also says the Lord will rebuke the devourer for our sakes. (Malachi 3:11)  The more generous we are, the more the Lord will rebuke the devourer, until the devourer vomits back what it devoured.  I’ll give you some examples of what has happened to us because of living the above principle. 

     My husband’s computer’s hard drive crashed and needed to be replaced.  His computer had a warranty on it, and it just so happened that there were three days left on the warranty.  If it had failed three days later, we would have had to pay for the hard drive replacement and the labor ourselves.  Instead we were able to get the hard drive replaced for free.  The devourer vomited our computer back out.

     My husband had to get his starter replaced in his car.  He drove it to the repair place across town, the only place that specialized in starters.  I followed him in my car so that we could run errands while his car was getting fixed.  After he got his car in the repair line, we got in my car and tried to start it, but I couldn’t turn the ignition key!  It was stuck!  Yikes!  Two broken cars!  We started looking around in panic, and discovered that right next to the starter repair shop was another car repair shop!  It just so happened they had room in their schedule to work on my car.  They had to push it into the shop, because even they couldn’t get the key to turn.  They found that the tumblers that took my key had gone bad, and the ignition lock had to be completely replaced.  My husband made noises about it being an expensive afternoon, but as I sat and thought about it, I realized that if a tumbler had to break in my car’s ignition lock, I couldn’t possibly have asked for it to break at a better time or place!  If it had happened anywhere else, I would have had to pay for a tow truck along with the ignition lock replacement.  It might have happened right when I had to go to class.  It might have happened at school and I would be stranded there at the end of the day.  I knew the Lord had shielded me from the worst that could have happened and had actually saved us time and money. 

     All these things happened, I knew, because of weeding out what I didn’t need.  It stood to reason that because I was doing this, the Lord was blessing my stewardship so that a sudden failure would not incapacitate us with inconveniences and waste. 

     If we have all that extra stuff “just in case”, the Lord doesn’t need to help us, because we are having faith in our stuff instead of having faith in Him, but if we’ve given our extra away to help others and something breaks, the Lord helps us.

22 Ye shall defile also the covering of thy graven images of silver,

and the ornament of thy molten images of gold:

thou shalt cast them away as a menstruous cloth;

thou shalt say unto it, Get thee hence.  

23    Then shall he give the rain of thy seed,

     that thou shalt sow the ground withal;

     and bread of the increase of the earth,

     and it shall be fat and plenteous:

     in that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures.

24    The oxen likewise

     and the young asses that ear the ground shall eat clean provender,

     which hath been winnowed with the shovel and with the fan.

25    And there shall be upon every high mountain,

     and upon every high hill,

     rivers and streams of waters

          in the day of the great slaughter,

          when the towers fall.

Isaiah 30:22-25

     Because consecration is a divine law and God is no respecter of persons, the Lord is bound to bless anyone who casts away their idols, no matter what system of beliefs they embrace or what church they belong to.  I read of someone who cast away her idols of surplus after taking a Feng Shui class.  (Feng Shui emphasizes attention to “energy flow” in buildings and to that end deplores clutter, though it has very little actual doctrine.)  Now read how the Lord blessed her:

One woman who came to one of my workshops got so inspired that she went home and phoned up Oxfam and said, “You are going to need to send a lorry!” She cleared out all but 5 items of clothing from her wardrobe, her ancient stereo system and stacks and stacks of junk.  In doing this, she released huge amounts of stuck energy, which created space for something new to come in. A week later she received a cheque in the post from her mother for £5,000, and she went straight out and bought herself a whole new wardrobe of wonderful clothes, a new sound system and everything else she wanted. She told me the cheque was totally unexpected, and that the last time her mother had sent her any money was 10 years earlier!7

     As you can see from this story, the woman had a lorry’s worth (truck’s worth) of surplus that wasn’t doing her any good, so she gathered it up and hauled it off.  Evidently she got rid of so much that the Lord thought she needed some help, so He blessed her with the means to acquire what she needed and wanted instead. 

     The blessings of consecration are individually tailored to our needs by the Lord.  Because of this, I can promise that if you consecrate your surplus, if the Lord decides you have material needs, the above experience will happen to you.  Just remember that there is more than one way to consecrate, so there is more than one way for the Lord to bless us, and the wonderful thing is that He does it according to our needs, which is why we need to become good at knowing what our real needs are so that we can fully recognize how the Lord blesses us.

     Here’s an example from my own life about this.  One Christmas I asked for and got an ipod nano.  I thought it was really cute and cool, yet as time went on I discovered that I hardly ever used it! (Embarrassed noises in all the land) One day as I was talking to my sister on the phone, she told me that she was disenchanted with her mp3 player (nicknamed “Beast”) and wanted something that worked better.  I impulsively said to her, “Oh!  I have an ipod nano I’m not using that I could give to you!”  She was so excited.  After I hung up, I proceeded to gather all the ipod stuff together to send to her, and I thought I would put some music on it for her too, and in the process of doing that, I am ashamed to say that I gradually realized that I wanted to keep my ipod nano after all. (More embarrassed noises) Using it reminded me how fun it was, and I started thinking maybe I could use it more often.  I was suddenly in a quandary.  I decided to hold off for a few days. 

     Fortunately, Heavenly Father was ready for this.  In church that Sunday there was a fabulous lesson about how we tend to serve Mammon rather than God, and there was a great object lesson-story about how hunters catch monkeys using a jar with fruit in it that the monkey grabs and won’t let go and can’t pull his hand from the jar because of it.  I realized I was like that monkey, unable to let go and trapped.

     That Sunday afternoon, I went visiting teaching a lady, Ruby Hood, and she showed me a huge box of old music that she had inherited from her mother.  She told me that another day I could come over and go through it and pick out whatever I liked and wanted.  I was excited; it had been years since I had gotten any new piano music and I had been yearning for some.  I arranged to go over the next day to look through her box.  When I got home from visiting teaching and thought about it, I could see Heavenly Father was showing me that He was ready to bless me if I let go of my ipod nano.  He was ready to bless me with something that I actually wanted more—new sheet music to play—if I was willing to let go of my ipod nano.  I thought, What if I kept my ipod nano?  I realized that it was by no means certain that Ruby would let go of that music; Ruby could suddenly decide she still wanted that music just as I had suddenly decided I still wanted my nano.  I also realized that if I gave my nano to my sister, Ruby could still decide she wanted to keep her music, but the Lord would still bless me in some way that I really needed.

     So I sent my ipod nano to my sister, and she loved it.  And Ruby let me go through her music to pick out what I wanted, and I loved it.  I found all kinds of fascinating songs to play.  I went home with stack of music six inches high and let me tell you it took a few weeks to whittle it down to just my favorites.  (My non-favorites I took to Deseret Industries.)

     You may wonder just how I could let go so easily of my ipod nano when I started wanting to keep it again.  I will tell you frankly that I struggled for about a day with this decision.  All kinds of sensible-sounding reasons came to mind about why I should keep it.  What made it easier was remembering all the times I had been blessed in the past for letting go of smaller things.  I thought, I will let go of my ipod nano, then Heavenly Father will bless me with something music-related that I will appreciate more than an mp3 player.  I was absolutely sure of this, because He had never failed before in any of my smaller experiments.  It was a few hours after I decided this that I visit taught Ruby Hood and learned about her box of music. 

     Here’s another example of how Heavenly Father blesses us with what we really need.  Elder Pinegar told a story of how a missionary in the MTC was blessed for the sacrifice of his time for extra study.  The MTC made arrangements for all the missionaries to go to the final BYU home football game of the season, and this missionary asked to be excused from going to it.  Elder Pinagar asked him why he didn’t want to go.  The missionary said he actually wanted to go to the football game very badly, because he had played college football for two years before his mission, but he said he had made a commitment to the Lord that he would learn all the discussions in Japanese before he left for Japan, and he knew if he went to the game, he would not be able to keep his commitment to the Lord.  He got permission to stay at the MTC and study.  He was blessed for his sacrifice, because up to that time he had only been learning 20 lines of Japanese a day, but the day he studied instead of going to the football game he learned 120 lines.  He finished learning all the missionary discussions five days before leaving for Japan.8

     This missionary fully consecrated his mind to the Lord in the study of Japanese, and cast away one of his idols in the form of the opportunity to go to a football game, and the Lord blessed him with what he really needed, which was a quickened understanding of Japanese and greater memorization abilities.  

     I challenge you to examine your stewardships from time to time and discover what your surplus is.  I challenge you to look for opportunities to consecrate your surplus by giving it to people in need, or by donating it to the church.  I know that as you do this, Heavenly Father will provide you with what you need when you need it.  I know that this is the way we escape the grasping, greedy tentacles of our materialistic world. 

     So what have we learned about consecration from Isaiah?  A whole bunch of stuff!

1) When we give offerings to the Lord, it has to be something that was honestly acquired

2) We need to develop our talents and abilities to become self-reliant.

3) When we are rooted in work, we will produce more than enough for ourselves and we can bless others with our surplus.

4) We must learn to consecrate our surplus profits to the Lord

5) The surplus we consecrate will bless the whole earth.

6) Envy and showing off both get in the way of consecrating.  Both envying and showing off are caused by pride.  We eliminate the pride that leads to envy by becoming aware of our own weaknesses as stewards.  We eliminate the pride that leads to showing off by cultivating the charity of delicacy towards others’ feelings.

7) When we only concentrate on getting things for ourselves, we will not find satisfaction and we are actually widening the gap between the poor and the rich, which fights against Zion.  However, if we give freely of our stewardships, we narrow that gap, and we will find greater contentment with what we have.

8) When we consecrate, we abase ourselves to bring the poor to a higher level.

9) Make sure we consider ourselves rich enough to make an offering to God if we are also rich enough to buy something for ourselves.

10) Find excuses to give and help others.

11) Give to the poor and weak, rather than taking from them.

12) It is impossible to consecrate unless you’ve been purified of greed and envy and have become holy.

13) Giving is never a mistake.  You have to learn to give before you can learn to give wisely.

14) The world and Satan will try to make you think giving is foolish.

15) When we have consecrated our surplus to help others, the Lord will provide for us when we are in need.  (This makes it so we don’t have to worry.)

16) When we have consecrated our surplus, the Lord will keep back the destroying wind and He rebukes the devourer for our sakes.

17) When we cast away our idols that we don’t need, the Lord blesses us with what we really need.


1 Webster’s School Dictionary, s.v. “consecrate.”

2 Jeanette Waite Bennett, “Service of Sorts,” New Era , Feb 1996, 28.

3 Thomas S. Monson, “The Lord’s Way,” Ensign, May 1990, 92.

4 Gordon B. Hinckley, “Rise to a Larger Vision of the Work”, Ensign, May 1990, 95.

5. C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, (New York: Macmillan, 1968), 109.

6. Ibid., 109.

7 Karen Kingson, “The Effectiveness of Clutter Clearing,”  The Fung Shui Art of Space Clearing, (accessed March 10, 2007).

8“Lesson 28: Consecration and Sacrifice,” Young Women Manual 3, 100, (accessed May 5, 2007).

Further reading about the blessings from volunteering (consecrating time and talents):

The Halo Effect, by John Raynolds

Chapter 1 – Understanding Isaiah
 Chapter 2 – Leaders and Role Models 
Chapter 3 – Gangs
Chapter 4 – Fasting 
Chapter 5 – Victims of bullying
 Chapter 6 – Bullying 
Chapter 7 – HomosexualitY
Chapter 8 – DatingPreface.htmlIntroduction.htmlChapter_1.htmlChapter_2.htmlChapter_3.htmlChapter_4.htmlChapter_5.htmlChapter_6.htmlChapter_7.htmlChapter_8.htmlshapeimage_6_link_0shapeimage_6_link_1shapeimage_6_link_2shapeimage_6_link_3shapeimage_6_link_4shapeimage_6_link_5shapeimage_6_link_6shapeimage_6_link_7shapeimage_6_link_8shapeimage_6_link_9
 Chapter 9 – Chastity
 Chapter 10 – Obtaining Joy and Satisfaction
 Chapter 11 – Fashion  and Modesty
 Chapter 12 – Rebellion 
Chapter 13 – Church Meetings
Chapter 14 – Hypocrisy (Sunday-only Mormons)
 Chapter 15 – The SabbathChapter_9.htmlChapter_10.htmlChapter_10.htmlChapter_11.htmlChapter_12.htmlChapter_13.htmlChapter_14.htmlChapter_14.htmlChapter_15.htmlshapeimage_7_link_0shapeimage_7_link_1shapeimage_7_link_2shapeimage_7_link_3shapeimage_7_link_4shapeimage_7_link_5shapeimage_7_link_6shapeimage_7_link_7shapeimage_7_link_8
 Chapter 16 – Pornography 
 Chapter 17 – The Media
 Chapter 18 – The Word of Wisdom 
 Chapter 19 – Responsibility
 Chapter 20 – School and Learning 
 Chapter 21 – Friends and Peer Pressure
Chapter 22 – Stewardship
Chapter 23 – Idolatry
Chapter 24 – ConsecrationChapter_16.htmlChapter_17.htmlChapter_18.htmlChapter_19.htmlChapter_20.htmlChapter_21.htmlChapter_22.htmlChapter_23.htmlshapeimage_8_link_0shapeimage_8_link_1shapeimage_8_link_2shapeimage_8_link_3shapeimage_8_link_4shapeimage_8_link_5shapeimage_8_link_6shapeimage_8_link_7shapeimage_8_link_8