Tuesday, November 29, 2016

2 Nephi 28:7-8 -- On Tomorrow

"Yea, and there shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us.
And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God."
2 Nephi 28:7-8

I think the most interesting thing about these verses is thinking about why this isn't true.  On the surface, it seems plausible, right?  God is merciful, and we'll be better off after we die... even if we do some minor sinning.  Right?  Where is the logical flaw?

I think that the flaw is in treating God, and this life, as a childhood prank.  Thinking that God is an old softie, and we can get away with anything... he'll actually just be laughing, and pleased with how cute and precocious we are.  In one way, those verses are true, except perhaps for the "few stripes" because I think our sense of personal loss and suffering might seem more than that.  But it depends on what we mean by "saved."  Yes, we are all going to be resurrected and live forever, no matter what our attitudes are.  However, if all we accomplish in this life is learning to be a prankster and getting away with whatever we can, then we aren't going to like our reward much... remember the whole restoration idea.  We get out of this life what we put into it, enhanced and multiplied by God.

It's kind of like college.  If we attend our classes, ask questions, study, and apply the new ideas we learn in our lives, then we become more than we were, and are better able to pursue our careers or teach our children, or have that extra knowledge wherever the path of life takes us.  But if we don't go to classes, and we don't study... or we decide that buying a diploma online is a better idea than spending the time actually learning... then yes, we might be able to get away with it, and skate by with low grades or get a job with a fake diploma.  But we will not be the better people that we could have been, had we learned and lived differently.

I think that is what we will face when we get to the end of mortality: basically a mirror, showing us who we have become, and where we will be comfortable in the eternities.  As with college, we likely won't be comfortable in a place where we're required to use all of those skills that we kind of faked our way through in life.  If we haven't learned how to be honest, and how to love and show compassion for others, and all the other little lessons that God is teaching us every day, then we won't be ready or able to be part of that group in heaven.  If we try to coast in this life, we might have to accept less in the afterlife.  Still saved, yes.  But how do we define hell?  Is it just avoiding eternal flames, or could it also be an eternity spent knowing that we don't qualify for the job we really wanted?  I don't think that God wants any of us to suffer, but sometimes we choose to suffer by not preparing ourselves for the opportunities that are coming.

Today, instead of focusing on and being distracted by the pleasures of life and our own indulgence, let's remember that we also need to get some work done, improving ourselves and assisting others--learning faith, compassion, love, service, and all of the other things that God is teaching us so that we will qualify for the tomorrow that he has prepared for us.

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