In Sunday School this week our lesson was about the rich young man. You know the one--he was truly trying to keep the commandments for the right reasons, and recognized in the Savior and Individual who was perhaps more than a great rabbi. Upon asking what more he could do to follow God, the Savior, carefully considering the young man's sincerity and lifestyle, admonished him to sell all that he had, give it to the poor, and then follow the Savior.
The teacher had some fantastic quotes--one from a Protestant reformer (Wycliff, maybe?) who expressed his deep concern about the inability of Christians to stay humble when they became wealthy, practically describing the central themes found so bluntly stated in the Book of Mormon. A second quote came from Brigham Young as follows, "The worst fear I have about this people is that they will get rich in this country, forget God and His people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell. This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty, and all manner of persecution and be true. But my greatest fear is that they cannot stand wealth.” Then he referenced Joseph Smith from Lectures on Faith, "A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary to life and salvation."
There followed a very interesting discussion about the sacrifice of "all things", and what exactly the Lord expects from us. The conversation then moved into the idea of covetousness and how it isn't the wanting of others' stuff that is the problem as much as the bad feeling it gives us toward others when they have more or are more. Competition, coveting and pride are all sins on the same spectrum. Ultimately we don't just envy and hate those who have more . . . we scorn those who have less. Coveting nearly always leads to enmity. And, as is so often the antidote for sin, charity seems to be the cure.
So what the Lord expects is our time, talents and our energies for the good of others. This combination will be unique to everyone, but it seems fairly certain that anything less than our all isn't enough.
I think I'm starting to understand about sacrifice, at least a little bit. What I'm still working on is the faith part that says, "Any sacrifice pales in comparison to the blessings . . . ." I think that one of the great strengths of LDS people is their willingness to sacrifice. And today I need your strength. Take a moment here to share a time when you sacrificed, and what it taught you. I know that sacrifice isn't about making sure that others know what you've done, but maybe this is a forum when we can draw strength to have the faith to continue giving our all.
You see, right now I'm going through a period of discouragement regarding my rather stupid job. As has been typical throughout our whole marriage, my extra income is just a little bit more than the 10% we pay in tithing--the rest of my money mostly covers my own tithing and my expenses for the paper route. For me, tithes and offerings aren't just about writing a couple of checks every month . . . it is about setting an alarm at 3 o'clock every. single. day. Probably at least for a couple of more years, unless I expect my family to share the sacrifice. No lessons. No dates. No vacations. No mission fund. No fun. Either I suffer or we all suffer.
Then I look around my community, my country, and the world, and I see actual suffering and I feel very small and selfish. Please, share your stories. It will ease the passage in the dark tomorrow morning.