Saturday, June 14, 2014

Jacob 2:17-20 -- On Learning to Share

"Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you.
But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God.
And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.
And now, my brethren, I have spoken unto you concerning pride; and those of you which have afflicted your neighbor, and persecuted him because ye were proud in your hearts, of the things which God hath given you, what say ye of it?"
Jacob 2:17-20

If we learned this lesson, it would be a huge step toward becoming a Zion society with "no poor among them" (Moses 7:18), wouldn't it?  It's tough for sure.  As little children we say "MINE!" a lot... and we don't really ever unlearn that very well, no matter how many times we're told to share.  But maybe there's still a chance to listen. :)  Think of a world where we really did think of other people like we think of ourselves.  Where we were open and giving, and where we always sought God before money.  The money we got we would use to help enrich others, so we could all have more than enough rather than us having more and others having less.  Isn't that a world worth working towards?  A future worth an investment? :)  I think it is an offer and a promise from God, that if we will only make the effort and learn to share, that we can live in that kind of world, and have that kind of life.
Yes, it is hard to give up what we've earned and give it to someone who hasn't made an effort... and so easy to feel like we're throwing *our* money away or that we deserve better because we work harder.  But when we think that way, is it really accurate?  I don't know that we can really know the circumstances of the people around us.  Would we change our minds if we knew that this individual poverty wasn't associated with laziness, but instead illness or injustice?  Would we give if it were our mother, or brother, or child, no matter the circumstances?  As King Benjamin says, "are we not all beggars" (Mosiah 4:19)?  As it mentions above, everything we have is something God has given us.  Even when we work our butts off for it, God gives us that opportunity, and it isn't only due to effort that there are changes in our circumstances.  Sometimes we find ourselves with an abundance, and other times, we really, really need help from other people.  God gives us those needs, and those opportunities so that we can learn... and one of those lessons is learning to share. :)
I know.  Still.  It is hard.  We're still yelling MINE!  But even if we are totally right and some do take advantage of our generosity, does that mean we shouldn't give?  That we shouldn't try?  Even the people in our closest circles probably could use help sometimes.  And the part that seals the deal for me is that God just plain *tells* us to give.  Above of course, and then just in case we don't think that is clear, in many other places.  In Matthew 5:42 and 3 Nephi 12:42 he says "Give to him that asketh thee."  An even more obvious statement is in Luke 6:30: "Give to every man that asketh of thee," which makes it clear that we are supposed to give to *every* person that asks, not just occasionally. 
I'm not saying it is easy.  I think we all wish we had a little bit more.  A nicer place to live, a nicer television, nicer furniture, a better seat on the airplane, a tricked-out laptop and the fastest internet anywhere.  We'd probably all like other people to think that we are cool and have it together, and material possessions really do make some things easier.  But here, today, God is asking us to revisit the lesson that we've been trying to learn since we were toddlers.  Let's let go of our resistance, and even if it is in tiny steps, let's build a better world.  Let's start learning to love people more, and share what we have.

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