That Which Cannot Satisfy – 2 Nephi 9:51

51 Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness.

This verse provides us with a simple criteria for deciding how to spend our time. Essentially, the prophet Jacob (and Isaiah, whom he is paraphrasing) advises us to maximize the return on our investment. When deciding how to spend our time and energy, we ought to consider which activities will produce real value.
The criteria seems pretty obvious. Why would anyone choose to spend their time and energy on activities which deliver no value and don’t even make the participant happy. Yet we see people doing this all the time. We are constantly tempted to spend our precious resources on possessions and activities which do not bring lasting joy, and which in some cases actually harm us. As Samuel the Lamanite told the Nephites, “Ye have sought all the days of your lives for that which ye could not obtain; and ye have sought for happiness in doing iniquity” (Helaman 13:38). People do not naturally behave in their own self-interest; we have to make an effort to live wisely.
How important it is therefore that we be intentional in how we choose to spend our time. Just as we create a budget to determine in advance how we will spend our money, so also we should review our schedule regularly and decide intentionally how we will spend the limited time we have. Then, we need to discipline ourselves to follow the plan we have set and not to squander our time on activities which will produce no true happiness and no lasting value.
Today, as I plan my day, I will remember Jacob’s counsel. I will decide in advance how to spend my time, and will ensure that I am working on the activities which will provide the greatest benefit to me and to the people I serve.
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