August 1, 2007

Be Not Over Righteous

Brigham Young February 6, 1853 It becomes us as Latter-day Saints to know the scriptures and do our best to keep the commandments. This encouragement to draw closer to God and continually improve can put a lot of pressure on us. One critic of the Church I spoke with believes the expectations we believe God has for us are too much; that we will not have the strength to keep our commitments. This brings to mind a verse from the Book of Mormon:

And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order (Mosiah 4:27).
Brigham Young mentioned this principle when talking about the way parents raise their children:
"Shall I sit down and read the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Book of Covenants all the time?" says one. Yes, if you please, and when you have done, you may be nothing but a sectarian after all... For example, we will take a strict, religious, holy, down country, eastern Yankee, who would whip a beer barrel for working on Sunday, and never suffer a child to go into company of his age-never suffer him to have any associates, or permit him to do any thing or know anything, only what the deacon, priests, or missionaries bring to the house; when that child attains to mature age, say eighteen or twenty years, he is very apt to steal away from his father and mother; and when he has broken his bands, you would think all hell was let loose, and that he would compass the world at once. Now understand it-when parents whip their children for reading novels, and never let them go to the theatre, or to any place of recreation and amusement, but bind them to the moral law, until duty becomes loathsome to then; when they are freed by age from the rigorous training of their parents, they are more fit for companions to devils, than to be the children of such religious parents.
He continued, mentioning his own upbringing. Not only can parents be too hard on their children, but they can also prevent their development should they not allow their children to learn about many things from many sources:
When I was young, I was kept within very strict bounds, and was not allowed to walk more than half-an-hour on Sunday for exercise. The proper and necessary gambols of youth having been denied me, makes me want active exercise and amusement now. I had not a chance to dance when I was young, and never heard the enchanting tones of the violin, until I was eleven years of age; and then I thought I was on the high way to hell, if I suffered myself to linger and listen to it. I shall not subject my little children to such a course of unnatural training, but they shall go to the dance, study music, read novels, and do anything else that will tend to expand their frames, add fire to their spirits, improve their minds, and make them feel free and untrammeled in body and mind. Let everything come in its season, place everything in the place designed for it, and do everything in its right time (Journal of Discourses 2:90-96).
Easier said than done, right? Still, I believe these are true principles. I believe this is the essence of what the Bible means when it says:

Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself? (Ecclesiastes 7:16).

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