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.