This week, someone changed around an idea (or rather, a saying) that I thought I’d understood perfectly for most of my life. It’s been on my mind ever since, and I feel like it’s something you’ll all want to hear too.
The phrase is: where much is given, much is required (see D&C 82:3). It’s a common phrase, and I’m sure many of you are familiar with it.
But before I get into what changed my perspective of this phrase, let’s talk a bit about what I’ve always thought when I heard this phrase. Just to get us all on the same page.
My initial thought was always: when God blesses us, we are expected to do more to serve Him.
That’s something I’ve always believed and still do, but it can be kind of a stressful belief. After all, how much does God bless us every day? With every breath, with every sight, with every choice, and so on. Every moment, whether we’re blind to it or not, contains a blessing from God.
Which means that every moment, we’re expected to serve Him more. In theory. We’re not perfect at that, and He’s willing to forgive that, but the blessings build up and sometimes I don’t feel like my return service is enough to pay Him back.
The good thing is, God never says we have to pay Him back. He just asks us to use what He gives us and to serve Him. So while we ought to be turning to God more and more each day, that shows more in how we change over time than in how much we pay God back.
Seems like a pretty straightforward interpretation of the phrase “where much is given, much is required,” right?
But like I said, I heard another interpretation this week that’s had me pondering a lot.
We Are Given Other Things
As I sat in the car listening to my dad chat with the driver about church callings and duties, the driver said something so interesting to me.
He said, “Where much is given, much is required.”
About church callings and duties.
Not about blessings.
You see, in his mind, the things that were being given to him were not necessarily blessings from God (though I’m sure he’d agree that they often doubled as blessings). He was being given responsibilities from God.
Loving his neighbor.
Partnering with his wife.
Fulfilling his (many) callings.
Attending the temple.
And so on. He’d been given these many duties, so much had been given. Which meant that much was required as well. To please God, he needed to do his best with his responsibilities and take them seriously.
That’s why God gave him these responsibilities after all. So he would do them.
This man didn’t consider his church duties to be a suggestion or something to do when he had some spare time. Those duties were given to him, and he is now required to do them or suffer the consequences of his apathy.
And trust me, he wasn’t apathetic about his responsibilities at all. In fact, he told us that he often went out of his way to help other people fulfill their church duties as well as fulfilling his own.
I don’t want you to think this man was bragging. We asked him what he thought of the recent policy changes from the church in his area, and that led to him explaining his own approach to the changes.
He was so humble and so willing to serve God. It was clearly no inconvenience to him to do the things God asked him to do.
Do We Need a Shift?
I’ve met some wonderful local members of the church who serve God gladly and fulfill the duties God has given them.
But I’ve also seen a level of apathy that concerns me. And yes, I’ve seen the same apathy in myself as well, and that really concerns me.
How many of us really take ministering, or scripture study, or temple attendance, or whatever other duties we have from God seriously?
Are those duties a priority or a time-filler? Do we love our duties or do them numbly out of habit? Do we really believe that we are required to do the things God has asked us to do, or do we think that God will let us slide without doing those important things?
I’ve been pondering these questions for a few days, and I’m realizing that it’s going to take some time to really work through them. It’s clearly time for me to do some self-auditing so I can make some better and more intentional progress in my life.
Maybe you’re feeling that way too.
If you are, then I invite you to join me in pondering these questions and the solutions in the weeks leading up to General Conference (only about a month away now!). Let’s see if we can prepare ourselves to receive the chastisement, guidance, or assurance we need to make our duties in God’s church our top priority.