Why Do We Keep The Commandments?

Don - January 16, 2007

We all know D&C 130 the law says we keep a commandment we get the blessing. So is that it? We want the blessing so we keep the commandments with the expectation in mind? Or do we keep the commandments so we can have a temple recommend and we’ve been told that a temple recommend is a measurement of worthiness.

Do we keep the commandments so we can be worthy to enter into the Celestial Kingdom? Which commandments do we have to keep to make us worthy? My father who passed away 2 years ago drank coffee semi-regularly, was he unworthy? He held a temple recommend, his Bishop knew he periodically drank coffee and knew why and so did the Stake President, both signed his Temple Recommend. Are we unworthy if we don’t pay fast offerings? How about if we skip Priesthood meeting?

Do we keep the commandments because we are scared of what will happen if we don’t?

For me all of these things have been part of my trying to keep the commandments at different times and during different circumstances. I have now come up with a statement that works for me as to why I should be keeping the commandments. My statement doesn’t mean that I still not motivated by other factors, but it does help me to keep me in the right perspective.

“It’s not what you get from keeping the commandments, but what you become by keeping the commandments.”

16 Comments »

  1. I like your statement, Don, and you have scriptures to back you up. Mosiah 2:4 says to “keep the commandments of God, that they might rejoice and be filled with love towards God and all men.” Alma 38:12 tells us to “bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love.” I keep the commandments so I can be more charitable. Learning to love like Christ did, to me, is the purpose of the gospel.

    Comment by Brett — January 16, 2007 @ 5:27 pm

  2. Don, I think you nailed it. This is my (simple) logic: God is happy. God wants us to be happy. God has spelled out the path (via commandments) to allow us to be happy, like Him. We become like Him when we follow His commands.

    The hard part for me is 1) overcoming the nature man, 2) determine what is and what isn’t a command (commands appear to change over time and over different authorities and I don’t believe that EVERY word from the prophet is a command), and 3) trying to balance what appears to be conflicting commands (e.g., time serving family vs. time serving others).

    Comment by Daylan — January 16, 2007 @ 5:27 pm

  3. It seems like such an easy question on the surface, but you’d be surprised by the blank stares people will give you if you pose it in Sunday School class. People are very busy keeping the commandments, but not a lot of them bother to ask themselves why.

    A devotioanl by my stake president at BYU literally changed my life and the whole way I viewed the gospel. He posed your very question you did Don. And he said that many people feel like they have to keep the commandments to keep themselves pure and worthy. But he went on to say, that yes, that is important, but it is a means to an end.

    To revisit the scripture Brett quoted above, Alma 38:12, why do we bridle all of our passions? Is it mainly to be prude and keep ourselves spotless? No, it is to be filled with love. Thus we keep the commandments because the cleaner the vessel of our soul is, the more Spirit and love can abide in us. And the more love and charity we have, the more we will serve our fellow man. And THAT is what the gospel is all about.

    Comment by Katie — January 16, 2007 @ 7:43 pm

  4. I keep the commandment because I am supposed to. Or rather, I try to keep the commandments because I am supposed to. I do not do so because of a perceived reward.

    Comment by Kim Siever — January 16, 2007 @ 8:45 pm

  5. Good thoughts. I agree. I’d also put that, though Don’s statement is the ultimate/long term reason, I’ll use whatever reason possible at the time to motivate me to keep the commandment in question:)

    Comment by Bret — January 16, 2007 @ 9:32 pm

  6. Perhaps our reasoning for keeping the commandments reflects our personal spiritual moral development. I am thinking perhaps like Kohlberg’s stages of moral development as an illustration. As we experience, progress, and grow our reasoning for keeping the commandments grow as well. Thus we may all be at different levels of development, and at many different levels of development with different commandments. We may at one time kept a commandment out of fear, or for a reward or blessing but however after time and experience we may have grown to keep a commandment for the sake of doing some good towards another or out of love for another.

    Comment by adam — January 17, 2007 @ 6:01 am

  7. So I can have the Spirit with me.

    Comment by Susan M — January 17, 2007 @ 8:45 am

  8. At some point the commandments evaporate and there is simply charity. You act the way you act out of the love you have for others and for Christ. Commandments are training wheels.

    Comment by a random John — January 17, 2007 @ 11:03 am

  9. I hope that I keep the commandments because of my love for the Savior. But the wonderful feelings along the way give me a lot of encouragement.

    Comment by cj douglass — January 17, 2007 @ 12:27 pm

  10. My friend who is the best and kindest person is also the one who keeps the commandments most faithfully. No lie.

    Comment by annegb — January 17, 2007 @ 12:30 pm

  11. I wish I could say I keep the commandment to pay tithing because I have charity and want to help other, or because I love the savior (which I do) but you know what, I think I pay tithing for two reasons. First I DO want the blessings of heaven pour out on me, and second I’m afraid if I don’t my businesses will go to hell in a handbasket!

    Which other commandments do I keep for what reasons…it scares me sometimes to examine that.

    Comment by Don Clifton — January 17, 2007 @ 4:33 pm

  12. Don,

    I’m not suggesting that training wheels aren’t useful. I’m also not even remotely suggesting that I’m zooming around without them.

    Comment by a random John — January 18, 2007 @ 9:25 am

  13. I pay Tithing so I can walk around church like I own the place, after all, I’m paying for it.

    Comment by Matt W. — January 18, 2007 @ 9:42 am

  14. I pay tithing so rich kids can go to BYU for cheap!

    Comment by a random John — January 18, 2007 @ 10:06 am

  15. You guys make me laugh! Thanks I needed that.

    Comment by Don Clifton — January 18, 2007 @ 11:51 am

  16. I keep the commandments because I know they’re the smartest and wisest thing to do. When I was a kid I did stuff because my parents told me to, and responded (not very well, to tell the truth) to the various rewards and punishments they set up for regulating my behavior. When I got older I saw the sense in many things they taught me, and some things they didn’t teach, and I governed my behavior according to what made most sense to me. The first stage exists to get us through childhood with the least damage possible, and to establish good habits while we’re young, when our humility and lack of power make it easier for us to learn things.

    I was in my 30s when I converted, so I never was moved by the reward and punishment arguments I learned in the church. I realized for whom they were made. If I feel myself being pulled into that way of thinking, I try to correct myself, because I think it would represent a regression instead of an advance.

    The main reason not to sin, that I see, is that sin is unwise, and causes pain and damage long term, either to me or to those around me, usually to both. The commandments exist so that we hopefully don’t have to find out every single thing like that the hard way. Learning the hard way is the best way to truly know, so that we have no doubts ever, and know exactly why a commandment exists, but it also causes a lot of unnecessary damage to us and the people around us while we’re learning.

    The commandments are the rules laid down by good and wise parents, to try to keep us from harm while we’re growing up. I trust that guidance, because I already knew most of it was wise when I joined, I’ve since learned for myself about other parts (when I put them to the test), and so I have faith in most of the remainder, that I’m still struggling to learn how to implement. There are a few parts about which I have doubts, in that I’m either not sure if they apply to me, or not sure if they’re truly inspired guidance. I think the process by which we grapple with all these things and sort them out is a healthy and life-affirming one. Being sure we know all the answers is deadly. =)

    Comment by Tatiana — January 21, 2007 @ 12:13 pm

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