I recently read an article from this month's Ensign. It is called "Reverence for God is the Beginning of Wisdom," by Elder Neil L Andersen. Click HERE for the link to the full article. Below is a summary tied into my own experiences.
I really related to this topic. The introduction starts out saying that we are in a world of information overload via online resources and social networking. Because of all this information overload, we need to be sure to seek for wisdom, "wisdom to sort through and discern how to apply what we are learning." This makes me think of all the different opinions floating around the internet, claiming to be common knowledge. I ask myself when I see those meme photos about something political or famous and wonder to myself if it is true, and where I can actually find the truth on the subject. The rest of the article is split into three parts:
The Blessings of Wisdom
There is the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God. The wisdom of the world can be positive or negative. The negative was described as "partial truth, mixed with intelligence and manipulation." He briefly mentioned the story of Amlici from The Book of Mormon and how he tried to bring people farther and farther from the church with his wisdom of the world. I don't mean to offend, but I am seeing this all over the place today. People who were once my friends in the gospel are now my friends who like to play devil's advocate when it comes to religion in general. They say it is because they have educated themselves and that others should do the same. I am assuming they think I am uneducated because I choose to stay a member of the church rather than only relying on the wisdom of the world. This can be taken in a political perspective as well. One side chooses to only educate their self based on biased opinion from one political party and claims that the other party is unethical or ridiculous and that they need to, here comes the phrase again, "educate yourself." There is so much hate in the world because of these "educated" opinions.
He continues on the more positive side of the wisdom of the world. He mentions different scenarios where a person learns about science, or how to be an educator, and they can bring some good to the world. I have learned from this part of the wisdom of the world through education, experience, books, etc. I do enjoy reading a good book and taking away something good from it, something that will change my perspective, something that will make me want to change for the better. I like to learn from my own experience as well as the experience of others. Let's try and focus more on the positive wisdom of the world over the negative. It is much more uplifting.
He then discusses the Wisdom of God. He reminds us that we may not always come to a perfect understanding and that God's ways are higher than ours, but we can still seek for that wisdom through prayer and reading the scriptures. He mentions, "Seeking for the wisdom of God is always accompanied by obedience to the commandments," and that it will come step by step if we honestly seek it. I'm sure all of us have experienced this. Revelation and enlightenment only come when we are doing these things.
Wisdom and Tithing
"When there is conflict between the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God, we must yield our will to the wisdom of God."
He shared a story about a young college student who only had enough money to pay tithing, or pay her university. There were tests coming up that she could only take if she payed the university first. She chose to trust in the Lord, pay her tithing, and then she was blessed by her employer offering to pay for her education. He later mentions other sacrifices people made: a member in China made significant sacrifices to join the church; two of his daughters have master's degrees and chose to be stay-at-home moms; his friend from South America chose to leave his job when he found that they were being dishonest with taxes.
I think I can speak for all of us when I say that sometimes it can be very hard to make those sacrifices, even if we know that it comes from the wisdom of God. My husband and I recently found out that if we would have saved our money instead of paying tithing and fast offerings last year, we could have paid off my student loans and had a little left over to add to our savings account toward a down payment on a house. It stings every time we write the check, but we have been blessed with what we need for now and know that we will be blessed in the future as we trust in the wisdom of God.
He finishes this section with a quote from Joseph Smith, saying that there are many wise people in the world, but that a lot are too wise to be taught so they will die in their ignorance and will find their mistake in the resurrection. I hope to be wise, but not too wise to be taught.
Wisdom and Finances
He talks about how we are in the society where our wants are becoming confused with our needs. I see that so many people will go into debt to buy something that isn't necessary. A toy? a computer? a new car when they already have one that functions? This is causing so many people to get deeper and deeper in debt, and what might also be contributing to the downward spiral in the economy. Remember learning about the "Roaring 20's" in history class? So many people were buying and buying without saving. Eventually those people had to deal with the great depression. I hope we don't have to deal with the same.
He shared a quote by Thomas S. Monson saying, "...I urge you to live within your means. One cannot spend more than one earns and remain solvent..." God has told us through multiple prophets and apostles to get out of debt, stay out of debt, and live within our means. The opposite is happening in the world around us. I am trying to follow the counsel and live within my means no matter how hard it may be some months. My husband and I have been trying to remind ourselves of what is a luxury vs. a necessity whenever we go shopping. It is so hard to turn down the good deals sometimes, but then we remind ourselves that we don't really need it. I usually end up feeling much better about not buying the item, even if it was a good deal. God truly knows best.
Let's try and seek out the wisdom of God by:
- Focusing on the positive side of the wisdom of the world
- Doing all the things necessary that will help us obtain more of the wisdom of God
- Make sacrifices when necessary