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Heart, Soul, Mind

November 30, 2007

While pondering the topic of consecration, I was struck by something Elder Maxwell said:

We tend to think of consecration only as yielding up, when divinely directed, our material possessions. But ultimate consecration is the yielding up of oneself to God. Heart, soul, and mind were the encompassing words of Christ in describing the first commandment, which is constantly, not periodically, operative (see Matt. 22:37) (emphasis his).

I wonder how often we really consider what it means to offer up all of our hearts, souls, and minds. Elder Maxwell reminds us that just as Ananias and Sapphira “kept back part of the price” (see Acts 5:1-11), we tend to hold back in these facets of our lives.

I’ve been tossing around some possible questions we might ask ourselves about our degree of consecration of heart, soul, and mind. (Please feel free to add questions to the list, as I imagine there are many others we could consider.)

Heart

  • Are our hearts set on any of the things of this world (riches, praise, honor, promotions, learning, earthly skills, success, appearances, philosophies, … the list is endless)? Would we be willing to give any and all of these things to the Lord? Should we give any of these things up to better follow Him?
  • Do we follow and sustain the Lord’s authorized servants with all of our hearts?
  • Do we give our whole hearts in love to our families?
  • Do we serve in our callings with all of our hearts?
  • Do we have broken hearts and contrite spirits?
  • Are our hearts hardened by grudges, resentment, judgment, hatred?
  • Is the Lord close to the “thoughts and intents of [our[ heart[s]”? (Mosiah 5:13)
  • Are our hearts pure and our hands clean?

Soul

  • Do we give deliberate and concerted effort to feed our spirits daily through scripture study, prayer, and remembering the Savior?
  • Do we strive to keep all of the covenants we have made?
  • Do we attend the temple regularly?
  • Do we seek for true conversion by being immersed in and absorbed by the gospel?

One consideration in this facet of consecration is the scripture that defines the soul as both spirit and body. Some questions to ask then are:

  • Do we live the law of chastity?
  • Do we care for our bodies as well as our spirits?
  • Do we live the dos and don’ts of the Word of Wisdom?
  • Are we modest in dress, speech, and behavior?
  • Do we allow bodily passions and appetites to drive us, or are we driven by the Spirit?
  • Are we striving to alleviate the physical suffering of those around us who are temporally poor and needy?
  • Do we show reverence for covenants physically as well as spiritually?

Mind

I like what Elder Maxwell said about this topic.

Since knees often bend long before minds, holding back this “part” deprives God’s work of some of mankind’s very best intellects. Far better to be meek like Moses, who learned things he “never had supposed” (Moses 1:10). Yet, sadly, brothers and sisters, in the subtle interplay of agency and identity, there is so much hesitation. The surrender of the mind is actually a victory, because it then introduces us to God’s stretching and “higher” ways! (see Isa. 55:9).

Whew. There is much to consider on the path to true consecration. (And this, of course, is only a small list of questions we could ask ourselves!) I find comfort in recognizing that this is all a process, and remembering the eternal blessings that will come as we truly give our whole selves and wills to God. Elder Maxwell said:

Spiritual submissiveness is not accomplished in an instant, but by the incremental improvements and by the successive use of stepping-stones. Stepping-stones are meant to be taken one at a time anyway. Eventually our wills can be “swallowed up in the will of the Father” as we are “willing to submit … even as a child doth submit to his father” (see Mosiah 15:7; Mosiah 3:19)….In striving for ultimate submission, our wills constitute all we really have to give God anyway. The usual gifts and their derivatives we give to Him could be stamped justifiably “Return to Sender,” with a capital S. Even when God receives this one gift in return, the fully faithful will receive “all that [He] hath” (D&C 84:38). What an exchange rate!

Heart, soul, mind. It all must go on the altar in order to enjoy the full blessings of the gospel, now and eternally.

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6 comments

  1. One other thought as I was listening to Elder Bednar’s most recent talk (linked above). As we truly give our everything to God, we open up the blessings of grace more in our lives, thus allowing our natures to be truly changed. All the discipline in the world won’t be sufficient for our natures to change. The more we turn our lives over to God, the more He can mold us and help us become truly converted and thus truly consecrated for His purposes.


  2. Every mention of the law of consecration in the Doctrine of Covenants refers to property, riches, and/or the poor. And just like I mentioned in my original post, we have successfully used revision to eliminate the scriptures most prominent teaching and the Law of Consecrations literal plain and precious truths from our discourse.

    With that said, what exactly are we even talking about in your post?

    Heart

    -What does it mean to any and all things to the Lord? Does God need my wealth? How do we give something to God? Is there a delivery box? What is more important to God – our allegiance to Him, or those we help as we follow Him? If the former, what does that say about God?
    -As above, does God care more about following men that at times act as prophets, or utilizing prophetic messages to help out his children?
    -What does it mean to give our whole hearts to our families?
    -What does it mean to serve in our callings with all our hearts?
    -What does it mean to have a broken heart and a contrite spirit?
    -What does it mean to have the Lord close to the thoughts and intents of our hearts? Does God want us walking around all day with a picture of Jesus in our minds? Does singing hymns to ourselves, praying non-stop, and wearing our CTR rings make us more favorable in the eyes of God?
    -What does it mean to have our hearts pure and our hands clean? Clean of what?

    Soul
    -Is scripture reading, praying, remembering the savior good enough? What value do these have in themselves? Weren’t the Pharisees doing this better than anyone else? What is better – to not read the scriptures and help the poor, or read the scriptures and neglect the poor? Does the number of Del Parson Jesus’s in our homes make us more spiritually fit?
    -Why should we be attending the temple regularly?
    -What does it mean to be immersed and absorbed in the gospel? What is the gospel?
    -What is modesty? Why is it important?

    Mind
    -What does it mean to be firm in faith and godliness?
    -What does it even mean to say that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts? Is God irrational? Does God have different morals? Are we that different from God? Can we even relate to God?
    (Do we consider what that means and how to obtain it?) YES!!! That’s the right question.
    -What is the lens of the Gospel? What is the Gospel? Is seeing through it good enough?
    -What is eternalism? Do we neglect the suffering in lieu of some sort of eschatology? Does doing ‘moral’ things for an eternal reward make us amoral? How is it any different from a service rendered for pay?
    -How high is too high? Can we think to lowly?

    Have we turned the gospel into mind play and affirmations of propositions? Is the gospel just about saying, thinking, ‘believing,’ and ‘holding into our hearts’ the right propositions, images, and words?

    “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. ”

    What does it mean to do the will of God?

    Why did the Lord not know them? Didn’t they pray, read his words, follow his priests, do the rites, wear his CTR rings, fulfill their callings, live the word of wisdom, etc?

    “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.”

    Jesus seems pretty clear here on how he gets to know us – by literally serving those in need. This is the true faith that James [the brother of Jesus?] talks about in his diatribe against rich Christians:

    “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. . . .
    What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”


  3. narrator,
    I don’t think you and m&m are disagreeing. Is this not a case of needing to do both one and the other?


  4. John,

    I agree. It is both the one and the other. However, just as I believe faith without works is dead, I believe that talk of faith without talk of works is equally vacuous.

    There are ‘Christians’ and Latter-day Saints doing all of m&m’s things, yet what good is all this when those oppressed and downtrodden (the foci of the Jesus’ beatitudes) are neglected?


  5. The purpose of this post was simply some self-reflection on elements of sacrifice in addition to giving of our means. I doubt most of us as members have really come to the point of giving our whole heart, soul and mind to the Lord. And I, like John seemed to say, tend to think that the more we truly give of our whole hearts, souls and minds, we will be more aware of the temporal needs around us, and our hearts will be changed so that we will not be able to sit by while people suffer. And we will be able to get the guidance on how best to share our wealth.

    BTW, you have rephrased some of the questions to ponder what it all means, and that is good, too. I just think there is more to consecration than just helping the poor, and like I said, I think that when our hearts are truly given to God, we will do that because we are more like Him, not as some act of discipline alone. The latter is not a bad thing, but in my mind there is more to consecration than just giving money and goods to the poor.

    But please rest assured, the purpose of this post was all about putting works behind our faith, not to vacuously talk about faith alone.

    Perhaps I should have added a specific something about giving to the poor, though. Maybe I’ll go and do that. 🙂


  6. Ok. I just wanted to make sure we weren’t talking past each other too much. I certainly believe that the principle underlying the law of consecration (and perhaps the law itself) is more than mere giving to the poor, however I believe that the Law of Consecration should not and cannot be understood individualistically. If I was the sole person on earth, the principle could not be applied. The law of consecration requires an other to be unified and in communion with. We could not even live this law with God, for it is with our service to others that we serve God. Again, it need not be just giving to the poor. It can be some of the many acts of services that we might render to the downtrodden and oppressed (who are not necessarily poor). However, I believe that predominate way in which we are told to do that (and perhaps the most neglected implementation) is by helping the poor.



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