The theme “Where ‘Much Is Given, Much Is Required’' in the July 19-25 Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Doctrine and Covenants 2021 lesson has caused me to ponder two principles of the restored gospel. The first is to “establish the cause of Zion” (Doctrine and Covenants 12:6), and the second is to repent and “refrain from sin” (Doctrine and Covenants 82:2). I hope as you read this article you will feel, as I do, that they are linked together so closely that they are essentially one principle.
Much Is Expected of Members of Christ’s Church
I have often pondered the phrase, “For of him unto whom, much is given, much is required” (Doctrine and Covenants 82:3, emphasis added). As I was called to serve in various callings in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I would worry about my inadequacies, lack of self-esteem, and time restraints. To answer these concerns, I would go across the road and seek advice from my mother, asking, “What should I do?”
My mother would always counsel me to “Never say no.”
I have always remembered and tried to follow that counsel from my mother. Everyone who is baptized and receives the gift of the Holy Ghost has been given much. Anyone who is a member of the restored Church of Jesus Christ has been given much and therefore much is required.
Jesus Qualifies His Servants
I have also always relied heavily on President Thomas S. Monson's counsel, “Whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies” (“Duty Calls,” Ensign, May 1996, 44). I know this principle is true, and it has given me hope to look beyond my own lack of self-esteem and inadequacies to “establish the cause of Zion.”
President Henry B. Eyring explains: “Your power will be multiplied many times by the Lord. All He asks is that you give your best effort and your whole heart. Do it cheerfully and with the prayer of faith. The Father and His Beloved Son will send the Holy Ghost as your companion to guide you. Your efforts will be magnified in the lives of the people you serve” (“Rise to Your Call,” Ensign, Nov. 2002, 76).
Pioneer Exemplars for Establishing the Cause of Zion
One of the greatest examples of “much is required” is the Joseph and Polly Knight family. In May 1829, Joseph Knight, Sr., desired to know what he should do regarding the divine work then unfolding. The Prophet inquired of the Lord and received a revelation instructing Father Knight to “give heed to my word … thrust in his sickle with his might … and seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion” (Doctrine and Covenants 12:2-3, 6, emphasis added).
Despite harsh persecution, they remained faithful to the restored gospel. Polly fulfilled her dream of living long enough to touch her feet on the land of Zion in Missouri but died on August 7, 1831. After attending her funeral, Joseph Smith wrote, “This was the first death in the Church in this land, and I can say, a worthy member sleeps in Jesus till the resurrection” (Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual , 124). The faithful legacy of Joseph and Polly Knight continued, “More than 60 members of the Knight family joined and helped establish the Church in New York, Ohio, Missouri, Nauvoo, and eventually Salt Lake City” (Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Doctrine and Covenants 2021, 28). They sought to “establish the cause of Zion” with all their might.
What We Can Do to Establish Zion
As Joseph Smith explained, 'We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object” (“Establishing the Cause of Zion,” Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 186). I believe that every prophet since the time of Adam and Eve has looked forward to, taught about, promoted, prophesied about, and worked towards establishing “the cause of Zion.” This has been especially true during this last dispensation.
President Spencer W. Kimball taught three fundamental things we must do to “establish the cause of Zion”:
“First, we must eliminate the individual tendency to selfishness that snares the soul, shrinks the heart, and darkens the mind….
“Second, we must cooperate completely and work in harmony one with the other. There must be unanimity in our decisions and unity in our actions….
“Third, we must lay on the altar and sacrifice whatever is required by the Lord. We begin by offering a ‘broken heart and a contrite spirit.’ We follow this by giving our best effort in our assigned fields of labor and callings. We learn our duty and execute it fully. Finally we consecrate our time, talents, and means as called upon by our file leaders and as prompted by the whisperings of the Spirit.” (“Becoming the Pure in Heart,” Ensign, May 1978, p. 81.)
More important than understanding such a vision for establishing Zion is our commitment to put these principles into action. One of President Kimball’s favorite phrases was “Do It.”
Our Sins Are Forgiven as We Seek Zion
As we each seek individually and collectively to establish Zion, there are some wonderful benefits and results that occur. We have a greater desire to refrain from sin, and our sins are forgiven. For example, when Joseph Smith's father asked him how he could help with the Lord's work, he was told that if he served God with all of his “heart, might, mind and strength,” he would stand “blameless before God” (Doctrine and Covenants 4:2). In other words, his sins would be forgiven.
There are numerous examples of this principle in the Doctrine and Covenants. In September 1830 Thomas B. Marsh was told, “Thrust in your sickle with all your soul, and your sins are forgiven you” (Doctrine and Covenants 31:5). As the elders had participated in the dedication of the land of Zion in Independence, Jackson County, Missouri on August 8, 1831, the Lord told them as they continued to lift up their voices and declare His work, their sins would be forgiven them (see Doctrine and Covenants 60:7). On August 13, 1831, Joseph Smith told a group of elders on their way to Zion that as they bore testimony and declared the gospel, their sins would be forgiven them (see Doctrine and Covenants 62:2-3).
I hope as you realized that we each have been given much, that the Savior expects us to put all of our hearts, might, mind, and strength into establishing the cause of Zion. I know that as we do so and regularly partake of the sacrament with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, that the Savior will say to each of us as He said to woman who washed His feet with her tears, 'Thy sins are forgiven.' (see Luke 7:36-48).