Giving the Best Chocolate

The Parable of the Best Chocolate represents the trap we can fall into when making an offering to Heavenly Father. He makes some not insignificant requests of us. From the time of Adam until Jesus fulfilled the law of Moses, the firstling of the flock was to be dedicated to the Lord and offered in sacrifice as an atonement for sin (Moses 5:5, 20). It had to be without blemish of any sort. Giving a flawless firstling required faith that there would be more to come.

I wrote this parable about the time I realized that in a particular aspect of my life, I was not giving God the best. (I won’t pretend that it’s the only aspect.) During the work week, I aim to go to bed around 9:30pm so I can get about eight hours of sleep before I get up and fit in everything I want to do before going to work. I have small children who wake up anywhere between 5:45 and 7:00 in the morning, and an adult needs to be conscious. It works out fine because the majority of the time, I’m already awake by the time they wake up.

Then come the weekends. On Friday and Saturday nights, I have tended to stay up until 11:00 or even later sometimes to relax and do what I want to do. However, with the kids waking up around the same time regardless of the day, I end up short on sleep. And when Sunday comes around, I’ve had two nights of less-than-optimal sleep, and all day I’m tired. Being in this foggy state interferes with being in the right frame of mind to worship and commune with God on His day. I realized I’ve just been giving Him the leftovers and that I needed to change it.

I’ve been trying to do better at this and have had a little success so far. But I have farther to go.

If it doesn’t seem like enough, Father in Heaven wants not just our best, but all. We find in the scriptures such superlative commandments as “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matthew 22:37) and “endure to the end” (3 Nephi 15:9), however close or far that end may be.

One of the lessons I remember from serving as a full-time missionary twenty years ago was taught by the president of the mission. With his wife sitting nearby, he used an illustration of this principle by describing the following situation: what if he bought a box of chocolates for his wife, whom he had promised to honor for time and eternity, and picked out—held back—the varieties he liked before giving her the box? Such an act represents not giving our whole hearts to the one we should be fully devoted to. Of course, his wife in this case represented God, the other One who should have our whole hearts.

That comparison clearly set the stage for the parable of the best chocolate, but I chose to make two changes.

First, the parent-child relationship. Innocently, the boy wanted to do something for his mother to show his love and appreciation, recognizing in some small way that his mother goes to a lot of effort to take care of him and loves him. This relationship also frames a little differently our attempts to show God our devotion—well meaning but perhaps not well executed and our attention easily diverted.

Second, the means to buy the chocolate. The boy didn’t have the money to buy an expression of affection on his own. When all things are considered, we don’t have much of anything at all with which to show our love for and devotion to Heavenly Father that wasn’t His to begin with. Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that “the submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we ‘give,’ brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us” (“Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father”). Examples include our time, our means, and our talents.

Speaking of talents, Jesus illustrated this principle in His parable about them (of course in the monetary sense) in Matthew 25. Two of the servants gave everything, though “everything” meant something different for each. Meanwhile, the third servant held back all of his efforts other than what it took to dig enough of a hole to hide the money. The employer equally rewarded those who gave their all and held nothing back.

One may ask, “Why should I give God the best I have? My life is hard, and if He truly has all power, I don’t feel like He has given me the best He has to offer.” I think the first answer to this question is that He did give the best He had—His Son, Jesus Christ—to purchase our salvation, to bring us back into His presence in a more advanced and enhanced state than when we left. The aforementioned sacrifices of ancient times, requiring their first and best, pointed to the sacrifice of The First and Best. The widow of Zarephath had a hard life, but she exercised the faith to feed the prophet Elijah using the last of her meal and oil. Then the Lord multiplied her supplies to last through the famine (1 Kings 17:8–16). I would suggest this story illustrates that when life is hard, it becomes more important to give everything we can to the Lord.

Beyond that, by offering the first and best we have to the Lord, we become our best. We live so as to become what He wants us to become and qualify for the best He can give us, which is eternal life. We will qualify to be part of the first resurrection, or resurrection of the just, which is reserved for those who have been true to Him, with the resurrection of the unjust coming later. Likewise, if we have held back, why would we not expect Him to hold back when bringing His recompense with Him when He comes again (Doctrine and Covenants 56:18–20)? If I have given Him only part of my heart and my energies, why would I not receive only a fraction of what the Father wants to give me in the end?

This is not to say we should overextend ourselves. Benjamin, the king and prophet, taught, “And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order” (Mosiah 4:27). In other words, put in my full energy, but be sensible and take care of myself. It’s harder for God to use me if I’ve incapacitated myself by overexertion.

Still, how will I ever have a chance when I know I fall short of offering my best and my all—frequently?

Jesus gives me that chance.

There will never be a time when I don’t fall short in some way. I feel like I often fall short of doubling the couple talents’ worth I’ve been given. But by keeping my eye on the ideal, I can recognize I fall short, my heart can become broken, I can plead for forgiveness, and I can repent. I place my trust in Jesus Christ, who because of my earnest repentance substitutes His perfection for my lack of it. I come to rely on the mercy of Him who came so that He could offer mercy. And through it all, because of His mercy, His power, throughout this journey I come closer to loving Him with all my heart, soul, and mind and more capable of enduring to the end.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

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One thought on “Giving the Best Chocolate

  1. armstrong258wp 29 August 2021 / 2:37 pm

    Well said. The balance is hard to strike. God doesn’t want me to be a hermit, giving all my attention to Him and giving nothing to the world. But I cannot let the world distract my every waking moment and miss the opportunities to serve God. “In the world but not of the world” is a constant tug-of-war. Some days the world wins, and some days God wins. As I get older, I hope the war goes God’s way more often than the world’s way.


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