Friday, May 10, 2013

Always Remember

God and his prophets rarely speak in superlatives: words like "never," "always," or "every" appear relatively infrequently in scripture and deserve our special attention. When the Lord God Almighty tells you to do something never or always, you best listen up. Within the corpus of scripture canonized by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the word always is attached to some form of commandment 32 times. Those are verses that should be etched in the memory of every Latter-day Saint.

Most frequently, the word is associated with a commandment to "pray always." Fifteen separate times the word always is used in directing us to pray: Luke 18:1, 21:36; 3 Ne. 18: 15, 18, 19, 21; D&C 10:5; 20:33; 31:12; 32:4; 33:17; 61:39; 75:11; 88:126; 93:49.

But familiar as the exhortation to "pray always" might be, most members of the Church are far more familiar with a different "always" commandment. Ever week baptized church members gather together to renew the promises they made at baptism by eating bread and drinking water in remembrance of Jesus Christ's atoning sacrifice. This sacrament includes a commitment on the part of celebrants to "always remember" Jesus and our covenants with him. Some version of that commitment to "always remember" our covenants with Christ through the sacraments recurs ten different times in scripture: 1 Chr. 16:15; 3 Ne. 18:6, 7, 11, 12; Moro. 4:3; Moro. 5:2; D&C 20:77, 79.

I suspect that both of these examples will be fairly well-known to most readers. The sheer frequency of scriptural reminders to "pray always" and the weekly repetition of our commitment to "always remember" Jesus Christ helps to keep those directives foremost in our minds. But there is a third, quite specific always command that few Church members are familiar with and even fewer heed. In section 46 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord commands the members of his church "that ye should always remember, and always retain in your minds what those gifts are, that are given unto the church" (D&C 46:10). Not only are church members to always remember the existence and nature of spiritual gifts, but the Lord also commands his people to "seek earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given" (D&C 46:8).

Most church members pray multiple times a day and we all gather once a week to renew our sacramental covenants, but how many of us regularly review the spiritual gifts available to us and the purposes for which God has given them? There is, in truth, virtually no limit to the number of spiritual gifts which God has made available to his children. In addition to the gifts listed in 1 Corinthians chapter 12, Moroni chapter 10, and section 46 of the Doctrine and Covenants, Elder Bednar has spoken on the spiritual gift of "being quick to observe," and Elder Hales has described a number of spiritual gifts not listed in scripture, including the gift to ponder, the gift to be calm, the gift to study, and the gift to listen. Still more gifts are described in other portions of holy writ, including the gift of writing: "it was given unto as many as called upon God to write by the spirit of inspiration" (Moses 6:5). My point is that for any given problem, there exists a spiritual gift which would alleviate that problem or facilitate its solution. It is for this reason that God command us [me, you] to ALWAYS remember the spiritual gifts he makes available to us, so that we can take advantage of his mercy, grace and blessings.

Ask yourself: What spiritual gift would ease the burdens I now bear? What spiritual gift would help me to ease the burdens of those I love and for whom I am responsible?

Always remember, seek earnestly, and the Lord will bless you.

For the mathematicians among you, who noticed that there are several "always" commandments left unaccounted for by the above, here they are:

  • "seek the face of the Lord always": D&C 101:38
  • "keep all my commandments always" Deut. 5:29
  • "be . . . always abounding in the work of the Lord" 1 Cor. 15:58
  • "be zealously affected always in a good thing," Gal. 4:18
  • "cause the lamp to burn always" in the tabernacle, Ex. 27:20
  • a teacher's duty is to "watch over the church always": D&C 20:53

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