Agency doesn’t mean doing what you want. It means being proactive in doing good: making decisions, taking initiative, and acting for ourselves instead of being acted upon.
Lehi taught this principle to his sons soon after arriving in their promised land. (See 2 Nephi 2:16, 26-30.) Likewise, as members of the church began arriving in their Zion—Independence, Missouri—in August, 1831, the Lord reinforced this principle in two revelations six days apart.
There are so many quotable passages in sections 58 and 59 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Let me share a few of my favorites with links to some relevant blog posts.
1. “After much tribulation come the blessings” (Doctrine and Covenants 58:4).
The Lord reassured church members that great blessings were in store for them: greater blessings than they could imagine. But He also made it clear that the blessings would only come “after much tribulation.”
- Nephi’s example teaches us principles about dealing with challenges: How Did Nephi Deal with Adversity?
- Trials can purify and strengthen us: The Furnace of Affliction – 1 Nephi 20:10.
2. “Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land” (Doctrine and Covenants 58:21).
Eleven years before Joseph Smith wrote the Articles of Faith, the Lord revealed a key principle relating to earthly governments: His disciples respect and follow the law of the land.
- The only way for a free society to thrive is for its members to uphold high moral standards: They Could Not Be Governed by the Law – Helaman 5:2-3.
3. “It is not meet that I should command in all things.” (Doctrine and Covenants 58:26-29).
Because we are agents, we shouldn’t have to be micromanaged.
- When we see a need, we can volunteer rather than waiting to receive an assignment: That They Might Impart the Word of God to Their Brethren – Mosiah 28:1-3
- Righteousness means doing what is right without needing to be asked (58:26-27): Righteousness
4. “He who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more” (Doctrine and Covenants 58:42-43).
Repentance and forgiveness are key principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- We need to have the courage to admit when we do something wrong, to own up to what we have done and to be willing to face the consequences: “They Had Sworn in Their Hearts That They Would Return” – Mosiah 19:19.
- When we forgive others, we should follow the Lord’s example, and remember their sins no more: What Does the Book of Mormon Teach About Forgiving Others?
5. “Crowned with blessings from above…and with commandments not a few” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:4).
We should be grateful when we receive instructions from God.
- The assignments we receive from God are customized for us personally and will bless our lives: I Am the Law, and the Light – 3 Nephi 15:9.
- God’s commandments will lead us to happiness and success: 1 Nephi 20:17 Who Teacheth Thee to Profit.
- Don’t beat yourself up when you fall short. Do the best you know how today, and you will understand how to do better tomorrow: 2 Nephi 9:25 Where There Is No Law Given, There Is No Punishment.
6. “That thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world…” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:9)
Sabbath worship helps us grow closer to God.
- As we strive to keep the sabbath day holy, we learn what it means to be holy: To Keep It Holy – Mosiah 13:16-19
7. “In nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:21).
God expects His children to be grateful.
- We need to learn to recognize the hand of God and believe in His power: How Can I Become More Holy?
- Gratitude may be a prerequisite to revelation: They Did Not Realize That It Was the Lord That Had Spared Them – Mormon 3:2-3.
8. “He who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive…peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:23).
When we obey God’s commandments, we are blessed today and in the future.