“Temporal and Spiritual” – Mosiah 2:41

Don’t underestimate the value of temporary things.

On at least two occasions, Nephi’s brothers, Laman and Lemuel, asked him whether the principles of the gospel related to temporal things or only to spiritual things. They seem to have wanted to keep different parts of their lives separates, with their daily decisions being disconnected with their religious observances. On both occasions, Nephi responded by connecting the two:

And they said unto me: Doth this thing mean the torment of the body in the days of probation, or doth it mean the final state of the soul after the death of the temporal body, or doth it speak of the things which are temporal?

And it came to pass that I said unto them that it was a representation of things both temporal and spiritual.

1 Nephi 15:31-32

And now it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had read these things which were engraven upon the plates of brass, my brethren came unto me and said unto me: What meaneth these things which ye have read? Behold, are they to be understood according to things which are spiritual, which shall come to pass according to the spirit and not the flesh?

And I, Nephi, said unto them:… the things of which I have read are things pertaining to things both temporal and spiritual.

1 Nephi 22:3

Temporal means “relating to worldly as opposed to spiritual affairs.” It also means “relating to time.”

The apostle Paul contrasted temporal things with eternal things, saying, “The things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Why would Nephi connect the two categories? Because temporal things can serve spiritual purposes. Many of our daily activities relate to the creation of temporary value. We make the bed, we clean the house, we prepare a meal. None of those efforts are permanent; they will all have to be done again. But their aggregate effect has eternal significance: building relationships with other people, removing impediments to communion with God.

King Benjamin asked his people to “consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God.” He said that “they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual” (Mosiah 2:41). He encouraged his people to participate in this work, providing relief to those in need “both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants” (Mosiah 4:26, see also Mosiah 18:29).

In June of 1829, God promised David Whitmer that, if he would assist in the work and be faithful, he would be “blessed both spiritually and temporally” (Doctrine and Covenants 14:11). A little over a year later, the Lord made the same promise to the members of His church in Colesville, Fayette, and Manchester, New York (Doctrine and Covenants 24:3). God sees the connections between our temporal circumstances and our spiritual growth. He blesses us in ways that seem temporal to us, knowing that those blessings can help us progress spiritually.

Today, I will be grateful for all of the blessings I receive from God, both temporal and spiritual. I will remember that the seemingly transitory aspects of my life are interconnected with my eternal journey, and that temporary things can have an eternal impact.

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