Do Latter-day Saints live the law of Consecration today?
For a man to lay down his all, his character and reputation, his honor, and applause, his good name among men, his houses, his lands, his brothers and sisters, his wife and children, and even his own life also—counting all things but filth and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ—requires more than mere belief or supposition that he is doing the will of God; but actual knowledge, realizing that, when those sufferings are ended, he will enter into eternal rest, and be a partaker of the glory of God. Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things. It was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God.
When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has for the truth’s sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice because he seeks to do his will, he does know, most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering, and that he has not, nor will not seek his face in vain. Under these circumstances, then, he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life. (Joseph Smith, Lectures on Faith 6:57-58)
If we could perceive and fully understand that all the ability and knowledge we have, every good we possess, every bright idea, every pure affection, and every good vision of mind from our infancy to the present time, are all the free gift of the Lord, and that we of ourselves have nothing original, we should be much better prepared and far more ready to act faithfully and wisely under all circumstances. Every good thing is in His hands, is subject to His power, belongs to Him, and is only handed over to us, for the time being, to see what use we will make of it. (Brigham Young, “Consecration”, Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, pp. 298-308, June 3rd, 1855.)
Ezra Taft Benson
The law of consecration … is that one’s time, talents, strength, property, and money are given up to the Lord for the express purpose of building up the kingdom of God and establishing Zion on the earth. (Brigham Young University, 12 April 1977)
Gordon B. Hinckley
Without the spirit of dedication, without the spirit of sacrifice, without the spirit of consecration, temples could not function. That goes without saying. The work in the temple is essential, it is a work of personal sacrifice and individual consecration… the law of sacrifice and the law of consecration were not done away with and are still in effect. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1997), 639.)
And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself.
D. Todd Christofferson
“The word stewardship calls to mind the Lord’s law of consecration (see, for example, D&C 42:32, 53), which has an economic role but, more than that, is an application of celestial law to life here and now (see D&C 105:5)… True success in this life comes in consecrating our lives—that is, our time and choices—to God’s purposes (see John 17:1, 4; D&C 19:19). In so doing, we permit Him to raise us to our highest destiny.” (Reflections on a Consecrated Life – Elder D. Todd Christofferson)
Steven C. Harper
No revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants rescind, suspend, or revoke the law of consecration… The law, in other words, was revealed to Joseph Smith in February 1831, but the law itself simply has been, is, and ever will be. Consecration is the law of the celestial kingdom, and section 78 teaches that no one will receive an inheritance there who has not obeyed the law (see D&C 78:7). (H. Hedges, J. Spencer Fluhman, and Alonzo L. Gaskill, eds., The Doctrine and Covenants: Revelations in Context, 213.)
Bruce R. McConkie
The law of consecration is that we consecrate our time, our talents, and our money and property to the cause of the Church: such are to be available to the extent they are needed to further the Lord’s interests on earth. (Ensign, May 1975, 50)
Marion G. Romney
While we await the redemption of Zion and the earth and the establishment of the United Order, we … should live strictly by the principles of the United Order insofar as they are embraced in present church practices such as the fast offering, tithing and the welfare activities. Through these practices we could as individuals, if we wished to do so, implement in our own lives all the basic principles of the United Order…. What prohibits us from giving as much in fast offerings as we would have given in surpluses under the United Order? Nothing but our own limitations. (Improvement Era, June 1966, p. 537.)
Neal A. Maxwell
“Whenever Church members speak of consecration, it should be done reverently while acknowledging that each of us ‘come[s] short of the glory of God,’ some of us far short (Rom. 3:23). Even the conscientious have not arrived, but they sense the shortfall and are genuinely striving. Consolingly, God’s grace flows not only to those ‘who love [Him] and keep all [His] commandments,’ but likewise to those ‘that [seek] so to do’ (D&C 46:9). A second group of members are ‘honorable’ but not ‘valiant.’ They are not really aware of the gap nor of the importance of closing it (see D&C 76:75, 79). …
Consider three examples of how honorable people in the Church keep back a portion and thus prevent greater consecration (seeActs 5:1–4)… Only greater consecration can correct these omissions, which have consequences just as real as do the sins of commission… So many of us are kept from eventual consecration because we mistakenly think that, somehow, by letting our will be swallowed up in the will of God, we lose our individuality (see Mosiah 15:7). What we are really worried about, of course, is not giving up self, but selfish things—like our roles, our time, our preeminence, and our possessions. No wonder we are instructed by the Savior to lose ourselves (see Luke 9:24). He is only asking us to lose the old self in order to find the new self. It is not a question of one’s losing identity but of finding his true identity! Ironically, so many people already lose themselves anyway in their consuming hobbies and preoccupations but with far, far lesser things… Thus, brothers and sisters, consecration is not resignation or a mindless caving in. Rather, it is a deliberate expanding outward, making us more honest when we sing, ‘More used would I be’ (“More Holiness Give Me,” 1985, Hymns, no. 131).
Consecration, likewise, is not shoulder-shrugging acceptance, but, instead, shoulder-squaring to better bear the yoke. Consecration involves pressing forward ‘with a steadfastness in Christ’ with a ‘brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men … [while] feasting upon the word of Christ’ (2 Ne. 31:20)… Along this pathway leading to consecration, stern and unsought challenges sometimes hasten this jettisoning, which is needed to achieve increased consecration (see Hel. 12:3)… Consecration is thus both a principle and a process, and it is not tied to a single moment. Instead, it is freely given, drop by drop, until the cup of consecration brims and finally runs over… God’s blessings, including those associated with consecration, come by unforced obedience to the laws upon which they are predicated (see D&C 130:20–21). Thus our deepest desires determine our degree of ‘obedience to the unenforceable.’ God seeks to have us become more consecrated by giving everything. Then, when we come home to Him, He will generously give us ‘all that [He] hath’ (D&C 84:38)… Consecration thus constitutes the only unconditional surrender which is also a total victory! May we deeply desire that victory, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” (“Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father” – Elder Neal A Maxwell)
“Any call for greater consecration is, of course, really a call to all of us. But these remarks are not primarily for those who are steadily striving and who genuinely seek to keep God’s commandments and yet sometimes fall short. (See D&C 46:9.) Nor is this primarily for those few in deliberate noncompliance, including some who cast off on intellectual and behavioral bungee cords in search of new sensations, only to be jerked about by the old heresies and the old sins. Instead, these comments are for the essentially ‘honorable’ members who are skimming over the surface instead of deepening their discipleship and who are casually engaged rather than ‘anxiously engaged.’ (D&C 76:75;D&C 58:27.) Though nominal in their participation, their reservations and hesitations inevitably show through. They may even pass through our holy temples, but, alas, they do not let the holy temples pass through them…
In contrast, those sincerely striving for greater consecration neither cast off their commitments nor the holy garment. Likewise it is only fair to warn that any determination to seek greater consecration will soon expose what we yet lack, a painful but necessary thing. Remember the rich, righteous young man who was told by Jesus, ‘One thing thou lackest’? (Mark 10:21.)
Ananias and Sapphira, otherwise good members of the Church, ‘kept back’ a portion instead of consecrating their all. (Acts 5:1–11.) Some would never sell Jesus for thirty pieces, but they would not give Him their all either! … Unfortunately, we tend to think of consecration only in terms of property and money. But there are so many ways of keeping back part… speculation seems more fun than consecration, and so is trying to soften the hard doctrines instead of submitting to them…
Only greater consecration will cure ambivalence and casualness in any of us! As already noted, the tutoring challenges arising from increased consecration may be severe but reflect the divine mercy necessary to induce further consecration. (See Hel. 12:3.) If we have grown soft, hard times may be necessary. Deprivation may prepare us for further consecration, though we shudder at the thought…
Consecration is the only surrender which is also a victory. It brings release from the raucous, overpopulated cell block of selfishness and emancipation from the dark prison of pride. Yet instead of striving for greater consecration, it is so easy to go on performing casually in halfhearted compliance as if hoping to ‘ride to paradise on a golf cart.’ (Henry Fairlie, The Seven Deadly Sins, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1979, p. 125.)…
Increased consecration is not so much a demand for more hours of Church work as it is for more awareness of Whose work this really is!… Jesus counseled His disciples, ‘Wherefore, settle this in your hearts, that ye will do the things which I shall teach, and command you.’ (JST, Luke 14:28.) Getting thus settled precedes consecration… Finally, if we shrink from deeper consecration, then we are not worthy of Him who, for our sake, refused to ‘shrink’ in the midst of His deepening agony during the Atonement! (D&C 19:18.)… Brothers and sisters, whatever we embrace instead of Jesus and His work will keep us from qualifying to enter His kingdom and therefore from being embraced by Him. (See Morm. 6:17.)” (Neal A. Maxwell, “Settle This In Your Hearts”)
David A. Bednar
As we live the law of consecration, we are willing not only to offer anything and everything we possess for the sake of the gospel, but we also promise to develop and devote our best selves—our time, talents, and strength—to the building of the kingdom of God on the earth.
Our pledge is: I will give me and all that I can become, and I will live for the gospel of Jesus Christ. (Ricks College Devotional, January 5, 1999)
D. Todd Christofferson
One obvious and rather sobering meaning of losing your life by confessing Christ is to lose it literally, physically, in sustaining and defending your belief in Him. We have grown accustomed to thinking of this extreme requirement as applying in history as we read about the martyrs of the past, including most of the ancient Apostles. Now we see, however, that what was historical is moving into the present. News reports from Iraq and Syria speak of hundreds of Christians and other minorities being driven from their homes or killed by Islamic extremists in the last several months. The terrorists demand that these Christians convert to their form of Islam or abandon their villages or die. The Christians will not deny Him, so many have fled and some have been killed. Surely such souls will be among those whom the Savior will not be ashamed to confess before His Father in a future day. We know not what may come in the future, but if any of us should face the trauma of literally losing our life in the Master’s cause, I trust we would show the same courage and loyalty.
The more common (and sometimes more difficult) application of the Savior’s teaching, however, has to do with how we live day by day. It concerns the words we speak, the example we set. Our lives should be a confession of Christ, and together with our words testify of our faith in and devotion to Him. And this testimony must be stoutly defended in the face of ridicule, discrimination, or defamation on the part of those who oppose Him “in this adulterous and sinful generation.” (D. Todd Christofferson, CES Devotional for Young Adults, September 14, 2014, Brigham Young University)