4 And when ye shall see these sayings coming forth among you, then ye need not any longer spurn at the doings of the Lord, for the sword of his justice is in his right hand; and behold, at that day, if ye shall spurn at his doings he will cause that it shall soon overtake you.
5 Wo unto him that spurneth at the doings of the Lord; yea, wo unto him that shall deny the Christ and his works!
(3 Nephi 29:4-5)
Throughout the Book of Mormon, there are warnings against rejecting sacred things, particularly in a disrespectful way.
Nephi lamented that “the things which some men esteem to be of great worth, both to the body and soul, others set at naught and trample under their feet” (1 Nephi 17:7). Jacob urged his readers to “despise not the revelations of God” (Jacob 4:8). Moroni worried that subsequent generations would mock his words; the Lord responded, “Fools mock, but they shall mourn” (Ether 12:26).
To “spurn” something is not only to reject it but to do so “with disdain or contempt” (Oxford English Dictionary). The issue isn’t just that something good has been lost but that it was dismissed in an inappropriate way, with an inappropriate attitude. In the passage above, Mormon warns his modern readers not to “spurn at the doings of the Lord.” The phrase implies an aggressive refusal, not merely a careless indifference.
About fourteen years ago, Elder D. Todd Christofferson gave a devotional address at Brigham Young University entitled “A Sense of the Sacred.” He spoke with the students about the consequences they would experience if they did not learn how to respect holy things:
The importance of having a sense of the sacred is simply this—if one does not appreciate holy things, he will lose them. Absent a feeling of reverence, he will grow increasingly casual in attitude and lax in conduct. He will drift from the moorings that his covenants with God could provide. His feeling of accountability to God will diminish and then be forgotten. Thereafter, he will care only about his own comfort and satisfying his uncontrolled appetites. Finally, he will come to despise sacred things, even God, and then he will despise himself.
On the other hand, with a sense of the sacred, one grows in understanding and truth. The Holy Spirit becomes his frequent and then constant companion. More and more he will stand in holy places and be entrusted with holy things.
(“A Sense of the Sacred,” BYU Speeches, 7 November 2004).
Elder Christofferson discussed a number of sacred things that we need to learn to respect and honor, including:
- Prophets and scripture
- The body – a temple of God
- Sacred places and occasions
Today, I will remember the importance of respecting and honoring sacred things. I will remember that an attitude of scorn or derision will not only lead me away from God but will also be self-destructive. I will heed Mormon’s warning not to “spurn” the things of God but to treat them with reverence and with respect.