In order to properly understand the law of consecration, we must first keep in mind two foundational gospel principles:
- All things are ultimately the Lord’s
- We are to love God with all our heart, soul, might, mind, and strength
Once we understand these two principles we will be prepared to understand how the law of consecration works, and how we are able to live it today. Hopefully some of my thoughts here will help us in that effort. We will begin with the first principle.
All Things are the Lord’s
Nothing that we have is our own. Just because we have something in our possession does not mean that we have true ownership of it, and this is particularly the case when we view our “things” through a gospel lens. The Lord has declared:
14 I, the Lord, stretched out the heavens, and built the earth, my very handiwork; and all things therein are mine.
15 And it is my purpose to provide for my saints, for all things are mine. (D&C 104:14-15)
We often make the fallacy of believing that when we move material “things” into our living space that they now become “ours,” and “ours” alone, belonging solely to us, and that no one else has any rights to them but us. Once things are “ours,” we believe that we have every right to do with them what we will, regardless of those around us. They seem even off-limits to God. The reasoning goes, “I’ve earned this, so it is now mine, to do with as I desire.”
The error in this is probably best shown through a simple allegory I read recently:
God is sitting in Heaven when a scientist says to Him, “Lord, we don’t need you anymore. Science has finally figured out a way to create life out of nothing. In other words, we can now do what you did in the ‘beginning’.”
“Oh, is that so? Tell me…” replies God.
“Well,” says the scientist, “we can take dirt and form it into the likeness of You and breathe life into it, thus creating man.”
“Well, that’s interesting, show Me.”
So the scientist bends down to the earth and starts to mold the soil.
“Oh no, no, no…” interrupts God, “Get your own dirt.” ((Via email.))
I think this story teaches a powerful lesson. Everything that God has put here on earth is the creation of Him who put it, down to the plants, the animals, the rocks, the dust, the atoms, and electrons. Not even our own bodies are ours, as strange as it may sound. We are bought with a price.
19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Cor. 6:19-20)
Who bought us? The Lord. What was the price? The Atonement. For without the Lord and His Atonement, our existence here would be utterly in vain, the law of entropy would overcome all, and we would crumble and return to the elements forevermore. But we have been bought, and been given the unconditional gift of immortality through the grace of Christ, in that we will live forever. This is the reason why God can set the ground rules for our lives here, and ultimately base the greatest rewards that await us in the hereafter on obedience to those rules.
Again the Lord teaches:
55 Behold, all these properties are mine, or else your faith is vain, and ye are found hypocrites, and the covenants which ye have made unto me are broken… (D&C 104:55)
Indeed, it seems that God is jealous of what is His, and in that we would be correct:
14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God… (Ex. 34:14)
Why is He jealous? It is because of man’s propensity to believe that what he has is not His who gave it to him, and who doesn’t use it in the way its true Owner prescribes.
Consider the words of King Benjamin:
21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.
22 And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.
23 And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
24 And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?
25 And now I ask, can ye say aught of yourselves? I answer you, Nay. Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth; yet ye were created of the dust of the earth; but behold, it belongeth to him who created you. (Mosiah 2:21-25)
It matters not what we do, or who we are, or what we possess, we are forever indebted to God who created us and everything around us. God is the true Owner of all things, and everything that we have and are is a gift from Him, to use as He directs.
Steven C. Harper notes well:
The Lord claims ownership of “the earth” and “all things therein,” including “all these properties” and compels us to choose. Either He is the omnipotent Creator and owner of the earth and everything in it or else He is something less and therefore incapable of rewarding our faith. If we acknowledge Him as Lord of all and yet fail to consecrate per His command, we are hypocrites. To acknowledge God is to grant that He is well within His divine prerogative to redistribute His own wealth according to His own will. ((Steven C. Harper. “‘All Things Are the Lord’s’: The Law of Consecration in the Doctrine and Covenants.” The Doctrine and Covenants: Revelations in Context – The 37th Annual Sperry Symposium. Eds. Andrew H. Hedges, J. Spencer Fluhman, and Alonzo L. Gaskill. Provo and Salt Lake City: Desert Book and Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2008. 212-228.))
So how are we to treat everything we have? God has placed us in the capacity of stewards over His creations, not owners, “free agent[s] empowered to act independently but accountable to the actual owner for all actions” ((ibid.)). We will explore the meaning of stewardship more in the forthcoming parts of this series. If we are faithful, the day will come when the Lord will declare, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful [stewards] over a few things, I will make thee ruler [owner] over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matt. 25:21). Only then we will be true owners.
How have you understood that “all things are the Lord’s”? Is this a difficult principle for us to grasp? What are some ways we can better understand this concept? Please share with us in the comments.
This is a great principle. Unfortunately for me, it’s one that I tend to only remember occasionally. My natural tendency is to think that I “own” something. But when I can remember that God gives me everything I have, and my responsibility is to do with it what would be pleasing to Him, I feel less selfish, less greedy, and more free with my possessions and money. But again, it does add to my responsibility. Imagine praying for guidance every time you make a purchase (“Is this how you want me to spend this money?”). Of course, the Lord expects us to be wise stewards and make decisions on our own. But we will be held accountable for our decisions.
I’m currently in the process of moving abroad and am selling almost everything I own. I will probably end up giving much of it away as well. Some of the items I’m trying to sell were given to me. Others I paid for am and letting go dirt cheap. I hope the Lord will be pleased with how I handle it all. But I feel that way about anything… 🙂
Thank you, thank you, i’ve always cringed when ive heard talks about about the law of consecration and the perpetuating of myths in regards to this law, it was awesome for me to read this and get some clarity about the subject as ive always held my toungue instead of questioning those who have spoken about it in a way that hasnt quite rung true in my heart, I’m looking forward to further insights into this subject, and also I have always cringed when tithing is spoken of in a demeaning way as it truly is a part of a a celestial law and it is a blessing to have the law of tithing and to be perfect keepers of it. Living the law of consecration and understanding it in the correct way is something i look forward to studying and applying thank you Bryce!!
I appreciate the principles in this article so very much. Over the last 10 years I gained testimony of this when I “put my heart on the table,” so to speak; and I did it at the time of very difficult circumstances for our family. We were suffering so much, but I wanted to do God’s will and please him so I thought it through thoroughly and was committed to what I was saying.
I did not realize what I was doing (principles of the law of consecration), but when I did that, I slowly began to view everything from a spiritual perspective. I read this and as I have gone to the temple recently and listened to the covenants again, I know now that I have been learning the blessings that come from the law of consecration. When I put everything on the table, I was blessed abundantly: first spiritually, then temporally. I began to look at all of my temporal–and spiritual (talents, time) possessions as liquid–it was to come and go as the Lord pleased. And when I was willing to give everything to him, he gave it back in full, and blessed me with much, much more.
I chuckle at and can appreciate Brandon Pearce’s comment above about asking the Lord if “this is what you want me to spend it on” before you make a purchase, because honestly, I have asked that several times, and wondered if I was okay in asking. I also understood the principle of being a wise steward, but I didn’t want God to be displeased on a purchase I made–or times when I wanted to give some money. I think it’s also a contextual question. Of course He wants us to do our homework first. As I have practiced, I have become better at thinking things through logically, and then as we listen to the spirit, it tells us “all things” that we should do.
I am far from perfect at this law because sometimes I relax and forget–sometimes I can get comfortable (frustrating to be so human). But I noticed each day it helps to thank Heavenly Father for the rich and abundant blessings he has bestowed upon me and my family and follow it with the thought that “it all could be gone tomorrow” and if it is, what then? My prayer is that if we have truly been living the law, it won’t matter because our hearts will be prepared to give again, everything that we have…even if it is only time and talents.
In the end, if it’s all God’s anyway, what do we really have to give? My testimony is our consecration is our heart to God’s will.
Jean Wycliff sums it up well in the Bleak Midwinter lyrics:
“What can I give him, poor as I am? …If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb,…If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part, …Yet what I can I give him: give my heart.”
‘We often make the fallacy of believing that when we move material “things” into our living space that they now become “ours,” and “ours” alone, belonging solely to us, and that no one else has any rights to them but us. Once things are “ours,” we believe that we have every right to do with them what we will, regardless of those around us. They seem even off-limits to God. The reasoning goes, “I’ve earned this, so it is now mine, to do with as I desire.”’
Let’s not fall prey to the socialist arguments that would do away with private property because, after all, “none of your stuff actually belongs to you.” This is one of Satan’s little counterfeits that he likes to throw in there.
Yes, everything belongs to God, and NONE of it belongs to me (or you), BUT, I HAVE been given a stewardship over those things God has given me and THAT stewardship DOES belong to me and to nobody else! This is an important distinction, because too many people think that they have the right to tell me what I should do with my stewardship when they SHOULD be minding their own stewardship and leaving me alone to do with my stewardship the things that I, in concert with God, believe should be done with it. If God decides that I’m being a poor steward, it is he that can, and likely will, reduce my stewardship, or vice versa. Nobody else on earth has the authority to forcefully redistribute my stewardship. NOBODY. The Lord does not work through compulsary means. Those are the tools of Satan and are and ever have been the tools of every government to ever rule upon this earth.
For what it’s worth, I don’t believe we ever have private property in this life. No, none of this stuff actually belongs to you. That is not a doctrine of Satan, it is a doctrine of God. Only until the Lord gives it to us in the afterlife as part of all that He hath, and says, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” Everything in this world is the Lord’s, it is never ours (D&C 104:14-15). Even as stewards, we do not own these things, nor are they our private property. They are God’s.
I understand that, and I agree. BUT, as far as everyone ELSE on this earth is concerned, my stewardship IS private property because nobody has the right to tell me what to do with my stewardship, other than God. Do you see my point? Yes, it is a stewardship and it doesn’t actually belong to me, but that distinction is only useful for me so that I understand what I should be doing with my stewardship. That distinction does NOT change the relationships between me and everybody else. I have no right to take part of your stewardship and give it to someone else and vice versa. Therefore, it is the exact same distinction as it would be if private property did exist.
I think it is better to call it what it is, a stewardship, rather than private property, as it helps us more fully and continually understand our relationship to it, and who we must give an accounting to for it, our Father in Heaven. I think it is helpful for everyone to understand that. Ok, maybe not in business dealings with non-members, but you get what I mean. If we go around always calling it my personal “private property” then that is what it will erroneously be to us and those around us.
Totally agree. 🙂
I have added Part 4 to this series on the law of consecration:
I wanted to a huge thanks for these posts. I missed Sunday school last week due to a new calling- primary president! And wanted to stay on top of my personal study of the Sunday school content.
Your posts of the LoC have really enlightened my understanding. Especially at this time which could be totally overwhelming. I am a single mum to 2 and in my final year of university. When my bishop corresponded my new calling, I knew that The Lord would provide a way for me to ind the necessary time to fulfill it. After, reading your posts I feel so much more at ease because I have covenanted my time along with other things to the up building of the kingdom of God. It is not MY time it is HIS. Interestingly others have mentioned asking if what they are purchasing is what God would have them spend their money on. I Find myself asking, “would He be happy with me spending my time doing this?” I guess I’ll never watch TV again.
Thanks again for the post and for the comments that help to enliven a most informative read.