Logical Consequences?

Rusty - January 3, 2005

One of the many wonderful things that my mother instilled in my brain at a young age is that we often must do the right thing, even when we don’t feel like it. I’ve often interpreted that to mean, “…even when we don’t see any harm in not doing so.”

I am sometimes very good at studying my scriptures every day, praying with my wife and alone, participating at church, preparing seminary lessons, treating others with kindness, etc. Sometimes I’m terrible at any or all of them. My problem is that my general happiness and the blessings in my life aren’t based on those things. The days that I have a really good scripture study session may often be filled with a general unease about the rest of my life. A two-minute pass of the next day’s seminary lesson may yield a fantastic discussion the next morning. Multiple days without giving thanks to my Heavenly Father for my blessings sometimes ends with even more blessings.

I don’t know whether to be jealous or content when listening to testimonies of people who say, “Since I started reading my scriptures regularly this week my life is different… I’m now happier, more charitable, and better looking!” In no way do I dismiss or disbelieve those accounts, I’m just saying that’s not the way it works for me. I think my testimony would be more along the lines of, “Since I’ve been studying my scriptures somewhat-regularly since high school, my life is generally happier, though I can’t say there is a direct correlation between the two.”

1 Comment »

  1. I tend to agree with your mom. We should do the right thing regardless of whether it does something for us in return. This is a Kantian notion–that acting morally is and must be independent of any inclination to act that way, that is, of any gain from doing so. I think that this fairly characterizes our relationship with God and righteousness in many ways, although not perfectly, since we should not only be expected to do what is right, but should also be allowed to love doing it (Kant would disagree with that). But God allows us to come here and then duke it out, so to say, for the length of our lives. We jhave an innate sense of what is right and are also taught what is right and then we must do it, regardless of whether we will be thrown in the fire with the other believers in Ammonihah. If God has a purpose to intervene, then He will do so for that purpose, and not because he favors one person’s comfort over another’s. To move from the severe Ammonihah example to the benign scripture reading example you gave, we are taught that it is right to study the scriptures and it is also innately so since it helps us to know God, but I don’t think we can expect each scripture-reading session to result in an epiphany or spiritual experience. That is, however, no reason to abandon scripture reading. I don’t think that your experience is all that unique–I think it is what most people encounter. It is just how life is.
    john fowles | Email | Homepage | 01.04.05 – 1:02 pm | #

    I think many of the blessing we receive come because of what we did in the pre-mortal existence…even on the day to day type things.

    I don’t think all blessings received here are as directly connected or linked to a specific activity as we sometimes assume. Some blessing come because of our parents, some because of other family members, some because of the prayers of others…on both sides of the veil, some by our actions – keeping a commandment- here, some because of certain activities we did before we got here.

    Enjoy it now, it may not always be that way.
    Don | Email | Homepage | 01.04.05 – 2:15 pm | #

    I try to stick to what has been said by the brethren on this one. Whenever they say that I will get such-and-such a blessing for doing such-and-such commandments, then so be it. For everything else…yeah, good luck. Sometimes the Holy Ghost has confirmed to me that because I’m keeping a certian commandment then I’m getting this certian blessing. However, like you, many commandments and blessings are more ambiguously manifested. I chalk those up to “I’ll find out later.”
    Bret | Email | Homepage | 01.05.05 – 10:26 pm | #

    For me, the blessings of small daily acts such as scripture reading and praying are generally most obvious over time, or “in the long run” — not on any immediate basis.

    I tend to agree with you, Rusty, in that neglecting a specific good act may actually end in receiving blessings, but of course I wouldn’t say the blessings are a direct result. (Then again, I don’t know — would Heavenly Father actively bless us for NOT doing something we should?…) I would also bet that there IS a direct correlation between your greater general happiness since studying the scriptures, though you may not see it because you’re watching the daily correlations rather than the yearly or lifelong ones.

    A few years ago an event triggered my sudden decline in scripture study. As each day passed with my either not reading at all or giving it only a half-hearted attempt, I thought, “See? Nothing terrible has happened; Life is still good! I guess I can get by with less time and devotion dedicated to the scriptures.” Of course over time as I considered how I felt spiritually, I knew I was wanting — especially compared to how I felt when my scripture study had been true spiritual feasting. I can’t say now that I’m perfect at studying my scriptures, but I do remember that lesson and how our veering off course often happens slowly, one degree at a time.
    Amy | Email | Homepage | 01.07.05 – 11:56 am | #

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