Friday, April 15, 2022

Elder D. Todd Christofferson on God's promises to us

Elder D. Todd Christofferson (1945- ) was called to the Seventy in 1993, and as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2008.
"It truly is folly for us with our mortal myopia to presume to judge God, to think, for example, 'I’m not happy, so God must be doing something wrong.' To us, His mortal children in a fallen world, who know so little of past, present, and future, He declares, 'All things are present with me, for I know them all' (Moses 1:6). Jacob wisely cautions: 'Seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand. For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works' (Jacob 4:10).

"Some misunderstand the promises of God to mean that obedience to Him yields specific outcomes on a fixed schedule. They might think, 'If I diligently serve a full-time mission, God will bless me with a happy marriage and children' or 'If I refrain from doing schoolwork on the Sabbath, God will bless me with good grades' or 'If I pay tithing, God will bless me with that job I’ve been wanting.' If life doesn’t fall out precisely this way or according to an expected timetable, they may feel betrayed by God. But things are not so mechanical in the divine economy. We ought not to think of God’s plan as a cosmic vending machine where we (1) select a desired blessing, (2) insert the required sum of good works, and (3) the order is promptly delivered.

"God will indeed honor His covenants and promises to each of us. We need not worry about that. The atoning power of Jesus Christ—who descended below all things and then ascended on high and who possesses all power in heaven and in earth—ensures that God can and will fulfill His promises. It is essential that we honor and obey His laws, but not every blessing predicated on obedience to law is shaped, designed, and timed according to our expectations. We do our best but must leave to Him the management of blessings, both temporal and spiritual."

- D. Todd Christofferson, "Our Relationship with God," General Conference April 2022, Saturday morning
Click here to read or listen to the full discourse

It's easy to fall into the trap that we can claim blessings by defining our level of obedience. We are sometimes tempted to set conditions for God - if I do "x" then I expect "y" - and when it doesn't happen quite as we plan, we can question God. But we should really question ourselves in that scenario! It's a pretty low quality of motivation when we will only obey if we get a blessing in return.

Elder Christofferson clarifies the principle. Obedience does bring blessings; but not according to our conditions, nor our timetable:

I appreciated his description of "a cosmic vending machine" of blessings that sometimes seems to be our mental model. Instead, we just need to learn to trust God - both His wisdom and His timetable. All will be well in the end.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2022)

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