By David Armstrong and Josie Hulme
In the October 2021 general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Bishop L. Todd Budge said the following: “Ultimately, the Lord wants our hearts; He wants us to become new creatures in Christ” (“Giving Holiness to the Lord“).
How do I give my heart to the Lord? By first giving Him everything else. I sacrifice—a little here and a little there. When I was a young man, I didn’t sacrifice much at first, partly because I didn’t have much to give, and partly because I wasn’t sure that sacrificing to God was even a logical thing to do, given that God already had everything and could make more if He needed it. But I wanted to be obedient, so I tried it by paying tithing.
I managed to get by without that little bit of money I gave up, so I tried again. God blessed my sacrifice with increase. When I acquired a little more, I had a little more to give. God increased me again, and I gave even more again.
Then I didn’t get an increase for a while, but I was in the habit of sacrificing, so I gave a little more anyway in the form of fast offerings. Now I was sacrificing on faith instead of on my bank account. And God increased my faith. Through my sacrifices, God was making me holy. My life was becoming sacred.
Along with money and goods, I am learning to sacrifice time, energy, and talents. I turn more and more of myself over to the Lord, and He sanctifies my offerings and makes me even holier. Not holier than thou, just holier than that person I used to be.
I recognize that everything I have is God’s anyway. King Benjamin, the ancient American prophet, taught his people, “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 2:25).
Literally the only thing I can give God is my free will—my figurative heart and mind. That’s the only thing that is uniquely mine.
God asks this of me for my benefit, not because He needs it. Does He need my tithing money? Nope. He could pull all the gold He wants out of the earth to build temples and pay for things His Church needs. So why does He ask me to pay? Because I need to pay tithing.
Does He need me to be a minister and help those around me? Nope. He has a heaven full of angels to do those things. He can just snap His fingers and that moving truck would unload itself. So why does He ask me to serve my neighbor? Because I need it.
It’s incredible to think of how much He loves me!! All the rules and regulations and commandments and time He asks of me is still, only, and always for my benefit. It boggles the mind!
If I stay on this path long enough, I will eventually consecrate all I have and am to God. At last, He will no longer have to withhold any blessings. Everything He has will be mine. And all because I started with one little sacrifice and a mustard seed of faith.
How do I become a new creature in Christ? Not in a blinding flash of light, but by gradually yielding pieces of myself. As I give up little parts of my natural self, Christ replaces those parts with better things. Think of it as rebuilding an old car one part at a time.
Photo by Juan Montes on Pexels.com
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I love the thought “not holier than thou, but holier than what I used to be. ” This life is not a contest, there’s no bell curve or first- second- third place. It’s all about becoming stronger in faith than you were yesterday.