Wisdom is good judgment. It’s the ability to make reasonable decisions. Wisdom requires more than adherence to minimum standards of behavior. It requires striving toward ideals of behavior. That’s why Jacob concludes his counsel to his readers with the far-reaching admonition, “O be wise; what can I say more?” (Jacob 6:12). That’s why Alma counseled his son Helaman, “Learn wisdom in thy youth” (Alma 37:35). That’s also why King Limhi lamented that so many people “will not seek wisdom, neither do they desire that she should rule over them!” (Mosiah 8:20).
So it’s noteworthy that, when Joseph Smith approached the Lord with questions about a specific practice—tobacco use—the Lord replied, not with a health code, but with “a Word of Wisdom.” In this revelation (Doctrine and Covenants 89), He provides guidance about how to take care of our bodies: Tobacco, alcohol, coffee, and tea are not good. Vegetables, fruits, and grains should be “used with prudence and thanksgiving.” Meat should be eaten sparingly, if at all.
The Lord refers to this set of guidelines as “a principle with promise.” Then, He lists some of the blessings we receive by taking care of our bodies, including improved health, additional knowledge, and protection from harm.
In subsequent revelations, the Lord taught other principles to help us live wisely, including:
- “Receive the oracles of God.” Don’t treat lightly the revelation you have received (Doctrine and Covenants 90:5).
- “Study and learn, and become acquainted with all good books” (Doctrine and Covenants 90:15).
- Seek enlightenment from the Spirit while you study (Doctrine and Covenants 91).
- Carefully organize your efforts to serve (Doctrine and Covenants 90:25-27).
- Be a “lively member” of the church (Doctrine and Covenants 92:2).
Here are some major themes in these revelations, with relevant blog posts:
- The pursuit of wisdom is also the willingness to submit to wisdom: What Is Wisdom?
- We need to be intentional about taking care of our bodies and our spirits: Nourished.
- We should be careful not to take lightly the counsel of church leaders: On Prophets and Pride.
- We need to pace ourselves as we dedicate time and energy to serving others: “Faster Than He Has Strength” – Mosiah 4:27.
- We ought to ask questions, search for answers, and be humble enough to accept those answers when they come: Even As Plain As Word Can Be – 2 Nephi 32:7.