Are you too attached to your stuff? Devastations across the world remind Saints of the Lord’s promised peace and protection, but peace and protection may not include the things you have your heart set on.
Samuel the Lamanite prophesied of a people who would hide their treasures in the earth to protect their treasures. They’d also hide their treasures in the earth when fleeing from their enemies. But because their hearts were set on their treasures, the land would be cursed and their treasures would be slippery. Moroni recounted how the Jaredites were so attached to their treasures (their swords) during their final battle that they slept on those treasures at night. How silly and uncomfortable!
Obviously, these scriptural warnings don’t apply to me because I’m not in battle, I don’t sleep on my pile of stuff, and I don’t bury my treasures in the earth, right?
I heard a quote by Brigham Young that changed this perspective. Today is a time of conflict—every kind of conflict. And my stuff can be buried in the earth or slip out of my possession through a variety of ways—earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, theft.
The Lord Gave It To Me
When Brigham Young left Nauvoo, it marked the fifth time he’d been forced out of his home. His perspective floored me!
When I left Nauvoo, I again left all I had…I had accumulated thousands of dollars’ worth of property, and had to leave it in the hands of the mob, and, said I, ‘Eat it up, destroy it, or burn it down, as quick as you please, for ‘the earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof.’
How did I obtain all this property? The Lord gave it to me; He has done what has been done.
In nearly every missionary discussion I’ve attended on tithing, the missionary points out that the Lord gives us 100% of what we have and then asks for 10% back as tithing.
Brigham Young’s words sound so astonishing in a way. It’s like he really believes that the Lord was the source of all he had.
Apparently, I was still stuck on stuff. Is it possible to really be so grateful for what the Lord provides, fully acknowledging His hand in the gift, and so detached from the attachment of it?
As I’ve studied Brigham Young’s teachings on the subject, I find that he very consistently lived and taught that the Lord is the source of all temporal, and spiritual, sustenance. Because Brigham Young believed it so fully, the loss of physical stuff never hindered his path. If that stuff was important to his well-being, Brigham Young fully trusted that the Lord would supply it again.
Consider the faith and lessons in the following statements about various stuff.
Pay Attention to Your Duties
“The Lord causes the people to bring forth His purposes that His Saints may rejoice, and that wickedness may eventually be destroyed from the earth; He will bring it all about, therefore let us pay attention to our duties. Attend to your crops, and let the gardens be attended to; and if your corn is eaten off today plant again tomorrow; if your wheat is cut down by the grasshoppers, sow a little more and drag it in.
Last season when the grasshoppers came on my crops, I said, ‘Nibble away, I may as well feed you as to have my neighbors do it; I have sown plenty, and you have not raised any yourselves.’ And when harvest came you would not have known that there had been a grasshopper there; the yield was as good as I expected at the planting and sowing.
Be diligent and upright in all things, and acknowledge the hand of the Lord in all things; rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks, even if you have nothing but buttermilk and potatoes.
Do those things that are necessary to be done and let those alone that are not necessary, and we shall accomplish more than we do now.”
Stand Aside, Get Away From My Thoughts
“If you will hearken to the counsel of your humble servant, you will say to the fields, the flocks, and the herds, to the gold and the silver, to the goods and chattels, to the tenements and the possessions, and to all the world—’Stand aside, get away from my thoughts, for I am going up to worship the Lord.’ Let it all go by the board, brethren, and who cares? I do not. Your oxen and horses will not live forever, they will die occasionally; and sometimes we are deprived by death of our children, and other members of our families.
I say, ‘Let the dead bury the dead, let the corn and the wheat, and all other things, take care of themselves, but let us dedicate ourselves, our families, our substance, our time, our talents, and everything we have upon the face of this world, with all that will hereafter be entrusted to us, to the Lord our God;’ let the whole be devoted to the building up of His kingdom upon the earth, and whether you are called here or there, it makes no matter; but this morning let every heart be humble, watchful, and prayerful, dedicating themselves unto the Lord.”
Stuff Is Like a Shadow
“Now, you Elders who understand the principles of the kingdom of God, what would you not give, do, or sacrifice, to assist in building up His kingdom upon the earth? Says one, ‘I would do anything in my power, anything that the Lord would help me to do, to build up His kingdom.’ Says another, ‘I would sacrifice all my property.’ Wonderful indeed!
Do you not know that the possession of your property is like a shadow, or the dew of the morning before the noon-day sun, that you cannot have any assurance of its control for a single moment! It is the unseen hand of Providence that controls it. In short, what would you sacrifice? The Saints sacrifice everything; but, strictly speaking, there is no sacrifice about it. If you give a penny for a million of gold! a handful of earth for a planet! a temporary worn out tenement for one glorified, that will exist, abide, and continue to increase throughout a never ending eternity, what a sacrifice to be sure!”
He Has Loaned It to Me
“No man ever heard me say I had made a sacrifice. I possess nothing but what my heavenly Father has been pleased to give me, or, in other words, He has loaned it to me while I remain here in this mortal flesh.”
Go, They Are the Lord’s
“If the people will ask in faith, they will receive, and let all mentally ask precisely as does the one who is spokesman. Let all leave the cares of their work behind them; let the kitchens take care of themselves, and let the barns, the flocks and herds take care of themselves, and if they are destroyed while you are praying, be able to freely say, ‘Go, they are the Lord’s; He gave them to me, and I will worship Him.'”
Cast From You the Love of The World
“Brethren and sisters, cast from you the love of the world, and let it have no dominion over you. There are a many who delight in the good things of this earth—in gold and silver, in carriages and horses, in houses and splendid furniture, in costly clothing, in orchards and gardens, in vineyards and fields, and extended possessions. These things, compared with eternal riches, are nothing, though in their place they are good. You may say, ‘If we live, we must eat, drink, and wear clothing;’ and, ‘He that provideth not for his own household, has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel;’ numberless arguments of this kind will present themselves to the minds of the people, to call them away from the line of their duty, when they know it is their privilege to dedicate themselves, their families, and all they possess to the Lord.
How quick is the enemy, how ready to present something of an opposite nature to what is right before them! You know the mental and physical weakness of man, so common to mortality, and which the enemy is so ready to turn against you, to his own advantage. You think that your business needs your continual and undivided attention, that you must attend to this, or to that, before you can dedicate yourselves and families to the Lord. There may perhaps be some few here this morning who feel they ought to be plowing, fencing, building, or attending to some minor affair, and cannot possibly spend time to remain at the Conference.
What hinders this people from being as holy as the Church of Enoch? I can tell you the reason in a few words. It is because you will not cultivate the disposition to be so—this comprehends the whole. If my heart is not fully given up to this work, I will give my time, my talents, my hands, and my possessions to it, until my heart consents to be subject; I will make my hands labor in the cause of God until my heart bows in submission to it.”
He Will Take Care of You
“Hence, you comprehend that every principle set forth in our holy religion—every part of the religious experience which we have obtained on the earth, proves the necessity there is for all Saints to live their religion, that the Lord may reveal unto them, from time to time, His will concerning them. Then you would not be troubled about crickets, nor about grasshoppers, rain, drought, nor anything else; but you would inquire what the Lord requires of you, and how He wishes you to do His will on the earth. Pay attention to what the Lord requires of you and let the balance go. He will take care of that if you will acknowledge His hand in all things.”
“Let us pursue a course to preserve ourselves and avert every calamity. This we can do. It is not necessary for calamity to come upon us, if we will only take a course to prevent it. According to present appearances, next year we may expect grasshoppers to eat up nearly all our crops. But if we have provisions enough to last us another year, we can say to the grasshoppers—these creatures of God—you are welcome. I have never yet had a feeling to drive them from one plant in my garden; but I look upon them as the armies of the Lord, and with them it is easy for Him to consume a great nation.
We had better lay up bread instead of selling it to strangers, and thus avoid a great calamity that otherwise might overtake us. If the people refuse to hearken to this timely counsel they will commit a great error. Good actions always result in blessings. The history of the people of God in all ages testifies that whenever they have listened to the counsel of heaven they have always been blessed.”
Trust in the Lord
Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Brigham Young’s word applies to every Latter-day Saint in every situation. The Lord willingly gives, or loans, us Earth’s fullness. As we gratefully acknowledge the Lord’s hand in our lives, we become less attached to our stuff, because we realize it’s actually the Lord’s stuff. And if the stuff is destroyed or otherwise removed from our stewardship, we act in pure faith when we believe that the Lord not only can replenish our supplies, but will replenish it.