What Is the “Book of Remembrance” Mentioned by Malachi?

Human beings have such a limited perspective.

We have a hard time seeing the big picture. We have a hard time remembering things. Our brains seem oriented toward the here and now, with only a vague and incomplete recollection of past events and with only a hazy awareness of the future implications of our decisions.

This lack of memory and foresight can lead us to an incorrect perception of the world around us. For example, when we see a successful person behaving badly, and not suffering immediately for it, we might be inclined to wonder whether the universe is really fair, whether it even makes sense to try to be good.

The prophet Malachi describes the dilemma this way:

Your words have been stout against me, saith the Lord. Yet ye say: What have we spoken against thee?
Ye have said: It is vain to serve God, and what doth it profit that we have kept his ordinances and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of Hosts?
And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered (3 Nephi 24:13-15, Malachi 3:13-15).

This confusion is a symptom of our short-term perspective. It is absolutely true that the righteous sometimes suffer and the wicked sometimes prosper in the short run. But in the long run, we know that the consequences we experience will be appropriate to the decisions we have made.

One antidote to this short-term thinking is writing. A written record serves as an extension of our memory, enabling us to be aware of the long-term consequences of our actions and allowing us to see the Lord’s hand across a longer time horizon. Malachi identifies the written word as the remedy for the careless short-term thinking described above:

Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another, and the Lord hearkened and heard; and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.
And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.
Then shall ye return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not (3 Nephi 24:16-18, Malachi 3:16-18).

Today, I will remember the power of the written word to enhance my perspective and motivate me to make wiser decisions. I will be grateful for the scriptures, which show me how the Lord has blessed people across many generations. I will recommit to write more faithfully in my journal, knowing that a written record of my life can help me see the hand of the Lord more clearly. I will choose to both read and write “a book of remembrance,” so that I can discern more clearly the way things really are.

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