D&C 78 Care for the poor
Secion 78 deals with an issue that is relevant in families, cities, nations and in the world. One verse summarizes the problem that this section is addressing: “For if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things” (D&C 78:6). We discussed what happens in a relationship where one person takes more resources and enjoys more wealth and comfort than their counterpart. What happens in a nation where many suffer incredible poverty and an elite few control the majority of the wealth? Many students brought up the situation in Egypt as over 40 million of the 80 million who live in Egypt earn less than $2 a day.
Section 78 is one of many sections in the Doctrine and Covenants that deals with this problem. In this case, the Lord commands his servants to establish a storehouse in order that the poor in the church can be taken care of and so that the rich may learn to share their wealth. We spent some time in class talking about what the Bishop’s storehouse is, that it is so much more than a brick and mortar building containing food. The Bishop’s storehouse is the collection of the time, talents and abilities of the members of the Church. We really are here to take care of each other and to give of ourselves to God’s children.
78:10– “…Satan seeketh to turn their hearts away from the truth, that they become blinded and understand not the things which are prepared for them (D&C 78:10) Satan desires to stir you up by what you don’t have. How many times in your life do you focus on what you don’t have instead of what you do? Counting our blessings is a road to better overall spiritual and emotional health. A couple of illustrations come to mind:
Genesis 3:1-4 Satan approached Eve with the thought of the one tree God had commanded her not to partake of… We sometimes have a tendency to focus on what we can’t do or what we don’t have and this can make us miserable.
1 Nephi 17:21 “…these many years we have suffered in the wilderness, which time we might have enjoyed our possessions and the land of our inheritance; yea, and we might have been happy.” Laman and Lemuel were so focused on what they didn’t have that they failed to see what the Lord had done to that point in their lives, in preserving them in what was probably a very dangerous and certainly inhospitable place.
In the film The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmund Dantes is very much in love with Mercedes Iguanada. He hopes to marry her. Edmund’s best friend, Fernand Mondego, plots a way to take Mercedes away from Edmund. Fernand wants what he can’t have, and once his plan to ruin Edmund’s life and take Mercedes comes to fruition, he tires of Mercedes and goes on wanting someone else. Fernand is never
happy because he is always focused on what he does not have.
78:14 – …that the church may stand independent above all other creatures beneath the celestial world…
“The temporal survival of the kingdom of God is not to be dependent on the success of worldly markets and merchandising. Neither is the ability of the Church to provide for the poor contingent on the ability of worldly governments to rebound from natural or manmade disasters. In recent years the strength of the kingdom has been evident in its independent capacity to reach areas of turmoil and catastrophe quickly and in an organized manner. Part of the latter-day mission of the Church is to demonstrate to the world that the Church has the ability to provide help to those in need.
As the Church is to stand independent in a temporal sense, so it must stand independent spiritually. The Church will not become part of the various ecumenical movements that unite the churches of men. It will join with other churches in helping the needy but will not seek agreement on the terms and conditions of salvation. We have no borrowed doctrines or authority. We are not beholden to other churches for our faith, nor do we seek favor or approval for any of our practices. In all things we stand independent.” (JF McConkie, Revelations of the Restoration, p. 566)
D&C 79 Jared Carter’s mission call
In six months and two days Jared Carter records that he baptized 79 souls, including one John Tanner, who would save the Church from tremendous financial strain on several occasions. John Tanner’s life is a grand illustration of the principles taught in section 78. John Tanner gave his all to the building of the Kingdom of God. He truly loved the Lord and His people and did not love the things of this world. He believed that “a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” (Luke 12:15.)