Saturday, September 24, 2016

D&C 89:3 -- On Weakness, Exceptions, and the Spirit

"Given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints."
Doctrine and Covenants 89:3


The idea of God giving a commandment, or perhaps all commandments, adapted to the weakest of us is an interesting one.  If a commandment is adapted for the weak, then we see that strong people might not need this commandment, and we tend to start seeing commandments as more flexible guidelines--the "spirit of the law" idea rather than the letter.  This idea perhaps explains some exceptions that we have seen in the scriptures, such as the rather extreme exception early in the Book of Mormon of Nephi, led by the Spirit, killing someone in order to accomplish what God had asked him to do.  This exception, and exceptions in general, are sometimes a tough thing to face, because we so often look at God's commandments as stark, eternal, black-and-white truths. And I think we should treat them that way, but as with this verse, and with what Nephi was asked to do, it is clear that we don't always know the mind of God and what he might expect of us in order to accomplish the mission that he has for us as individuals.

On the other hand, when we start realizing that there might be wiggle room or exceptions to God's laws, then we start wondering whether we are the exceptions, or, worse, just assuming we are and running with it.  And it is when we go that far that we entirely miss the point.  It's the same thing as assuming that we are symbolically the loyal son in the story about the prodigal, or assuming that we are the people who worked all day in the parable of the laborers in the vineyard.  It's assuming that we don't need God's mercy or his commandments to help us, because we are already practically perfect, or that we know the universe and the future as well as God does, so we know that this action will work out better for everyone.  It's pure pride, which as we remember from Proverbs 16:18, "goeth before destruction."

Today, let's obey God's commandments as though we are the weakest, never assuming that we are strong enough not to need them.  Let's remember Christ's example of being sinless, and yet agreeing to be baptized for the remission of sins, "to fulfil all righteousness" (Matthew 3:15).  Let's be the humble, the obedient, and the strict observers.  Let's establish that relationship with the Lord so that we can always hear him and have him with us.  As we do, then we'll be able to help others more, to live happier lives, we'll have the promised blessings for being obedient, and we'll also be in a position to hear and understand what God has to say if there *is* an exception... if we aren't living the gospel in the first place, then we can never get that message.

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