Thursday, May 2, 2013

The First Presidency’s Business, D&C 70:3-8

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3 I, the Lord, have appointed them, and ordained them to be stewards over the revelations and commandments which I have given unto them, and which I shall hereafter give unto them;
4 And an account of this stewardship will I require of them in the day of judgment.
5 Wherefore, I have appointed unto them, and this is their business in the church of God, to manage them and the concerns thereof, yea, the benefits thereof.
6 Wherefore, a commandment I give unto them, that they shall not give these things unto the church, neither unto the world;
7 Nevertheless, inasmuch as they receive more than is needful for their necessities and their wants, it shall be given into my storehouse;
8 And the benefits shall be consecrated unto the inhabitants of Zion, and unto their generations, inasmuch as they become heirs according to the laws of the kingdom. (D&C 70:3-8)
In this block of verses, the Lord appointed Joseph Smith Jr., Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, John Whitmer, Sidney Rigdon, and William W. Phelps to be stewards over the revelations and commandments already given and for those yet to be given.  Their business was to:
·      Manage them (compilation, editing, and arrangement)
·      Manage the concerns thereof  (publication and distribution)
·      Manage the benefits thereof  (managing any moneys from sales)

They were not to give the revelations to the church or the world, which I suppose means that they were not to relinquish responsibility for perpetuating publication, and they were to be aware that this responsibility was their stewardship and the Lord would require an accounting of it in the day of judgment.  Any temporal benefits received from managing the publishing and distribution of those sacred texts were to be used for their “necessities and wants”—“wants” is an old word meaning “needs”—and any surplus above that was to be given into the Lord’s storehouse.

For me this was a fascinating chapter because it revealed to me how the Lord designed to support his prophet and apostles in their callings as they gave their whole lives to serving and ministering to the church.  They weren’t to live off the members; they were to have a business to support them, and it so happened that business was to be managing the publications and distribution of the revelations and commandments and other sacred texts.  They weren’t supposed to be in it for personal gain because the surplus was to go to the Lord’s storehouse.

Now, as far as I know, there were some obstacles to making this work. One I know of was that Phelp’s printing press in Missouri got destroyed by the mob in the middle of printing copies of the Book of Commandments, and that would represent a major loss of capital.  But I suppose it is fully implemented today.

So far, I think the First Presidency and apostles have done a great job, considering all the scripture helps that have been added—the footnotes, the Topical Guide, the maps, the Bible Dictionary, the scripture apps, the online access, and so on.  They try to make access for all of us as easy as possible.   And too, they are careful as they add enhancements not to make them so often as to make it a financial burden to the members to keep scriptures updated; I notice that with the latest adjustments that were made, they told us that we are not required to buy a new set of scriptures even when the new sets come out in August.  They made the adjustments available for free online.  In this world of forced fee-upgrades (cough.. Apple.. cough), our leaders’ generosity is wonderful.  (Even so, I still plan on buying a new set!)

What does this mean for us today?  Well, it so happens that the next verses make that clear:

9 Behold, this is what the Lord requires of every man in his stewardship, even as I, the Lord, have appointed or shall hereafter appoint unto any man.
10 And behold, none are exempt from this law who belong to the church of the living God; (D&C 70:9-10)

It means that just like the First Presidency has their business, we each have ours, which the Lord calls our stewardship and for which we will be held accountable.  It also seems that we are asked to consecrate the benefits of our stewardships to the church that are more than we need.  That implies that we need to learn budgeting skills so we can become better at learning what we need for the different concerns of our stewardships, and we need to learn unselfishness through sacrifice.