It takes faith to act on revelation we have received. It also takes faith to act on revelation received by someone else.
When Jacob told Leah and Rachel that an angel had instructed them to move, they responded favorably. As difficult as it might have been to leave their home, they responded, “Whatsoever God hath said unto thee, do” (Genesis 31:16).
Their response reminds me of the faith of the Lamanite king whom Ammon encouraged to move his people to safety. This king did not believe that their enemies, the Nephites, would welcome them and treat them kindly. But Ammon said, “I will go and inquire of the Lord, and if he say unto us, go down unto our brethren, will ye go?” (Alma 27:7). This king was not only willing to trust revelation received by Ammon, he was willing to trust it before the revelation even came. “Inquire of the Lord,” he replied, “and if he saith unto us go, we will go” (Alma 27:10).
The ability to receive revelation is a spiritual gift, and the ability to recognize and follow revelation given to others is also a gift:
To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.
To others it is given to believe on their words.Doctrine and Covenants 46:13-14
I’m not suggesting that we should believe everything people claim to have learned by revelation. Obviously, other people can be misguided or dishonest. I do think an important part of this gift is recognizing which messages we can trust.
But I think we impoverish ourselves when we trust too little. If the only revelation we believe is the revelation we personally receive, we miss the power of learning from the unique experiences of the people around us.
I love the story of the church leader who noticed that a participant in a council meeting had been particularly quiet. He asked if she had any impressions. “As she spoke,” he said, “the Spirit testified to me that she had given voice to the revelation we had been seeking as a council” (quoted by Russell M. Nelson in “A Plea to My Sisters,” General Conference, October 2015).
Today, I will pay attention not only the answers I receive from my prayers but also to the inspiration received by others. I will seek for the gift to believe on their words.
I think this post was particularly insightful and thought. Both my Paul
and Christian have mentioned from time to time how important it has been
for them to reflect on the importance of believing on the testimony of
others and of trying to be those “others,” even when their faith has
differed — in some cases markedly — from the revelation and faith that
other have claimed. Thank you for this insight.
I suppose it’s relatively easy to believe in others’ revelation when they’re saying something we already agree with. The question is how we react when they’re saying something we hadn’t thought of or even something that conflicts with our assumptions.
Thanks for the comment!