January 16, 2008

"Each moment is set apart to its act"

Brigham Young June 15, 1856 Brigham Young believed individual righteous acts could combine over time to create a tapestry of righteousness; the sum total of one's existence. We become what we do, essentially. With some pioneer science, he makes the following comparison:

Chemists who are familiar with analyzing matter, inform you that the globe we inhabit is composed of small particles, so small that they cannot be seen with the unaided natural eye, and that one of these small particles may be divided into millions of parts, each part so minute as to be indiscernible by the aid of the finest microscopes. So the walk of man is made up of acts performed from day to day. It is the aggregate of the acts which I perform through life that makes up the conduct that will be exhibited in the day of judgment, and when the books are opened, there will be the life which I have lived for me to look upon, and there also will be the acts of your lives for you to look upon. Do you not know that the building up of the kingdom of God, the gathering of Israel, is to be done by little acts? You breathe one breath at a time; each moment is set apart to its act, and each act to its moment. It is the moments and the little acts that make the sum of the life of man. Let every second, minute, hour, and day we live be spent in doing that which we know to be right.
We walk by faith in everyday decisions, and God allows a lot of leeway in personal preferences. There isn't a "more righteous" flavor of ice cream, for example. It is up to us to discern righteousness, with the aid of the Holy Ghost, in our day-to-day living. It is not "meet" to be commanded "in all things," we "should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of [our] own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness" (see D&C 58:26-27).
If you do not know what to do, in order to do right, come to me at any time and I will give you the word of the Lord on that point. But if you wish the word of the Lord on your nonsensical, foolish notions and traits, be pleased to keep away from me, for I know too much about such characters for them to pass before me unobserved. Mankind are weak and feeble, poor and needy; how destitute they are of true knowledge, how little they have when they have any at all. We have need to increase in knowledge and understanding, and to apply our hearts more to wisdom. How necessary it is for us to live our religion so as to know ourselves better, and to know how to live better in accordance with the religion we have embraced. To know how to gather up the sons and daughters of Abraham, and to establish the kingdom of God on the earth, how necessary it is for you and I to live our religion, and not be slothful and negligent in fulfilling our duty (JD 3:333-344).
God said the power is "in us," to be "agents unto [our]selves" (see D&C 58:28). Our goal, then, in righteous living, is to keep the Spirit of God with us. Brigham recommended scripture study as something to invite the Spirit:
The Book of Mormon, of Doctrine and Covenants, the Old and New Testaments all corroborate the fact that then you receive the Spirit that gives you light, intelligence, peace, joy, and comfort, that it is from God.
President Henry B. Eyring echoes this sentiment often, as he did at a BYU-Idaho fireside in January, 2005:
My prayers to receive the help of the Holy Ghost have been strengthened by pondering the record of the scriptures. And so has been my ability to recognize the message which the Holy Ghost brings... the words of inspiration from the Holy Ghost are words the Savior used. When I read the words spoken by the Savior in the scriptures, I grow in my capacity to recognize inspiration from the Holy Ghost. For that reason my personal scriptures tend to wear out unevenly. I go most often to those places in the Book of Mormon, in the Doctrine and Covenants, and in the Bible where the Lord is speaking. By doing that I can better recognize the voice of the Spirit when the Savior’s words echo easily in my mind. Just as pondering the scriptures invites the companionship of the Holy Ghost, so does doing the things we have been told to do and doing them promptly. We are promised that the scriptures and the Holy Ghost will tell us all things that we should do. When we go and do what we have been told and do it the best we can, we qualify for more instructions of what to do. If we do not act, we will not receive further instructions.[1]
As Brigham said, we "breathe one breath at a time; each moment is set apart to its act, and each act to its moment. It is the moments and the little acts that make the sum of the life of man. Let every second, minute, hour, and day we live be spent in doing that which we know to be right." Footnotes: [1]
Elder Henry B. Eyring, “Raise the Bar,” Brigham Young University–Idaho Devotional, January 25, 2005.

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