Today I read Doctrine and Covenants section 53, a very short revelation given to Sidney Gilbert in letting him know what he should be doing. As with so many others, the Lord tells him that the best thing he can do is to preach unto the people of this generation. And just like He does to all the rest of us, the Lord promises him that the rest will come in time once he has been able to live these first commandments.
There is a line that stood out to me though from verse 2. In this verse the Lord tells Sidney to forsake the world. That phrase hit me like a ton of bricks. I immediately asked myself, what does it mean to forsake the world? It certainly does not mean to become a hermit because the very next verse tells him to go forth and preach the gospel to mankind. So what does it mean to forsake the world?
Well I think we can answer that with another commandment that all Latter-day Saints are familiar with, the commandment to be in the world but not of the world. Last night I had a conversation with a co-worker about losing weight. I mentioned that my weakness was that I just enjoyed all the wrong things, pasta, bread, cheese and things like that. She said that she does too but that she limits them during the week and only has 1 day where she splurges on them. I then replied that I didn't have the willpower to not do that. She laughed and replied that she didn't believe me because my "don't" list is the longest she has ever seen. She is of course referring to my living the gospel. But those are easy to forsake, I have never had alcohol, coffee or tea before so in a sense I don't know what I am missing. Whether she realized it or not, she was pointing out just how different I am from the rest of the world.
We all know there is much evil in the world, things that in and of themselves are bad and have no purpose other than to lead people to do that which is wrong, things like pornography and drugs. There are also things that are not inherently evil or bad but that mankind has perverted such as alcohol or tobacco. A funny side note, I remember once talking with a friend of mine that used tobacco dip and we were talking about why was tobacco put on this earth if not for smoking and when I informed him it was a product meant to help with bruises especially with cattle he had no idea. It's just amazing how uninformed we are as a people. However, I digress.
But despite how bad these things are, they are the norm, at least here in a America. And the fact that we don't do these horrible things and aren't destroying our bodies with them, makes us different. However, forsaking the world doesn't just mean forgoing the bad things in this life, the things we have specifically been commanded not to partake of. It means to forgo ALL things that would drive away the Spirit. Certain types of music, books, TV shows, movies, conversations with others, certain friends, ANYTHING that would drive away the Spirit of the Lord, and there is a lot out there that will. And the things don't even have to necessarily have to be bad, they can just distract you. I read an article in the February Ensign where the author comments that a friend stated that if he were the devil he wouldn't bother trying to get the Latter-day Saints to commit big sins, he would just keep them busy. And he was right. The world is very appealing to the natural man and if we are not constantly on our guard, we will distract ourselves right out of the kingdom. Brigham Young is credited with saying something along the lines of that he was worried the Saints could not handle luxury.
We live in a world where there are so many options for our time and that without even really trying we can fill our days/time with so much waste. Every morning when I wake up the first thing I do is read my scriptures and post the latest post on this blog. But after that the next thing I look forward to most is playing with my 5 month old daughter and spending time with my wife. Yes there are other things I enjoy and sometimes will even be more pressing than spending time with them such as video games or reading a good book, but for the more part, I really enjoy spending time with them. But with very little effort on my part, I could easily lose sight of being a part of my daughter's childhood and spend too much time at work, or playing a video game or even reading a book in her presence instead of getting on the floor and just rolling around with her. Forsaking the world is a conscious choice we have to make each and every time a distraction comes along. Now eventually after long enough it will not be a choice anymore and will be a habit, but we have to build up to that and for whatever reason, the really great habits seem to take a LOT longer than 28 days to form! More like 28 years and it's shocking how quickly you can get rid of them for less savory ones.
Now, this life is meant to be enjoyable. Nephi taught his people that men are that they might have joy and he meant it. But our lives should not be consumed with traveling from one joy to the next. We must have all things in temperance and in the right quantities. And it's also about priorities. If you work, when you come home from work what is the first thing you do? For me it's give my wife, and daughter if she is awake, a big hug and a kiss and then clean up the house since my wife has a 5 month old and not a lot of time to pick up. Only after I make sure my girls needs are met do I start to do things for myself. On Sunday's do you prioritize going to church and doing your calling afterwards? On Super Bowl Sunday do you make Home Teaching a priority if you know your family is only available for you to visit that day that month, or do you just report you weren't able to see them?
Forsaking the world is, just like the rest of the gospel, a lifestyle. We have to consciously want to forsake the world and be a better Latter-day Saint. As we strive to overcome the world it will get easier. Remember that the Lord WANTS you to forsake the world and as such will do all in His considerable power to help you. He can even help you gain the desire to start. Remember, Alma teaches us that we only need to desire to desire in the beginning and it is enough, the Lord will make up the rest. I am living proof of how true that is. It's hard in the beginning, but like Christ said before me, it is SO worth it! Until tomorrow.