Matt. 6: 21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Where is your treasure? Where is your treasure for the new year 2017?…
Timothy G. Merrill spoke at a Religious Education Student Symposium, 2004 and gave a paper entitled: “Spiritual Forensics: Dusting for God’s Fingerprints in a World Filled with Agency.”
Then Brother Merrill chose this analogy: The Lord made a big sandbox (earth) and then piled us into it, so to speak. He chose the school we are sent to, how long we have recess, which children will play together, and who will have the best sand for castle building and who will have coarse gravel. He even leaves the bullies in the box. In fact, He leaves pretty much everything the way it is. And sometimes we may think of Him with a clipboard, circling the sandbox, taking notes as He observes the behavior of the children. After a while, some children forget He is there at all.”
This is an interesting analogy, yet we know the Lord does not stand with a clip board – Instead is He is doing all He can to allow us to feel His love and encouragement as we make choices on earth. He wants us to be pro-active with our agency.
- WHAT IS AGENCY? Agency being defined as the ability and privilege to choose and act for ourselves. Adam and Eve “had no joy, for they knew no misery.” We know we learn more from our mistakes and adversity than we could learn from a sheltered existence.
Edmund Burke wrote, “Adversity is a severe instructor, set over us by one who knows us better than we do ourselves, as He loves us better too”
HOW CAN UNDERSTANDING AGENGY ENHANCE OUR LIVES?
Agency is connected to three principles.
- The first is opposites. “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad” (2 Nephi 2:11.)
The second principle: Satan is part of the plan. Being tempted by Satan is a necessary evil for our mortal experience. “And it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves”; (D&C 29:36)
- The third principle is freedom to act. “Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself “ 2Nephi 2:16).
Brother Merrill summarizes:
- “Opposites are the roadmap; temptations are the billboards; freedom is the car; and agency is our ability to choose the destination.”
We could add: The Atonement of Jesus Christ allows us to make a wrong turn using our agency and get back on the road on this journey to eternal life. Without both Agency and the Atonement of Jesus Christ we would be wandering souls on this earth with no direction or purpose.
Agency is an eternal principle. Before we came to this earth, Heavenly Father presented His plan of salvation – a plan to come to earth and receive a body, choose to act between good and evil and progress to become like Him and live with Him forever.
Doctrine & Covenant Scripture “Pearls” in this lesson:
D&C 58:3-4 “Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation.
For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand.”
D&C 58:27-28 “… men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;…. For the power is in them, wherefore, they are agents unto themselves.
D&C 82:3 “For of him unto whom much is given much is required:”
D&C 82:10 “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.”
Byron Merrill wrote, “ Agency and Freedom In The Divine Plan” He said, “Satan cannot limit our agency, but he can limit our freedom – the ability we have to act upon our choices”
Edmund Burke wrote: “Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites…”
Pres. John Taylor said, “Besides the preaching of the gospel, we have another mission, namely the perpetuation of the free agency of men and the maintenance of liberty, freedom, and the rights of man.”…. the gospel can only prosper in an atmosphere of freedom.
“We will make an earth whereon these may dwell; and we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them” (Abraham 3: 25).
We need to prove to ourselves that we would be faithful under all circumstances. How can we really come to know ourselves without being able to exercise agency, carry out choices, and then realize the consequences?
- We know that Abraham stood among the noble and great ones yet the Lord still commanded Abraham to offer up his son Isaac as a supreme trial of faithfulness. Certainly, the Lord knew what Abraham’s response would be. President Hugh B. Brown said, “Why then the test? Abraham needed to learn something about Abraham.”
- What do we need to discover about ourselves that this eternal principle of Agency can teach us?