RS/MP Chapter 17: “Priesthood—’for the Salvation of the Human Family’” (Lorenzo Snow Manual)
Posted by Robert C. on September 13, 2013
(Apologies this is late.)
The lesson from the manual can be found here.
From the opening “Life of” part of the lesson, I am impressed with Pres. Snow’s patience in waiting on the Lord (see, for example, Isaiah 40:31). I think sometimes we get overzealous in efforts to share the Gospel, and in other aspects of our lives. It’s easy to use this as an excuse, and to let fear prevent us from showing courage and exercising faith to do something we should do, but it is also dangerous to be overly impatient in trying to bring about good on our own timetable rather than the Lord’s. The priesthood is not something that can be bent to our own will, but brings blessing to our lives only when we wait humbly and patiently.
In the next section, regarding delegated authority, I like Pres. Snow’s rhetorical question, “Can I give [the gift of the Holy Ghost?" Pres. Snow answers "no," of course, and elaborates on how priesthood authorities only act "as a messenger of the Almighty to whom has been delegated authority." D&C 122 reminds us how easy it is to abuse authority, and I think this attitude toward the priesthood, and to any position of authority in the Church or in secular life, should be adopted. I am reminded of this as a father, that it is as though I have been entrusted to care for my children, while they are young, to help care for them and teach then the Gospel. Although I will always be the father of my children, the kind of care I give them now is temporary. I think it's helpful to think of callings and priesthood ordinances in a similar manner, as temporary/temporal activities or enactments that have eternal significance, but only because we such acts are commissioned by our Eternal Father.
The next section, on "happiness" being the purpose of the priesthood is my favorite section of the lesson. If happiness is not the fruit of the Gospel in our lives, "in this life and throughout eternity," then we are doing something wrong. True, this does not mean we will be spared hardships or suffering, but oftentimes we fail to experience happiness because we have a warped relationship to the Gospel. I've been thinking a fair bit about guilt lately, and the good and bad (usually bad, IMHO!) reasons we experience guilt in the Church. The Gospel is a message of joy, and although it is sometimes painful to live the Gospel, I think happiness is a good yardstick for measuring whether we are properly understanding and applying the Gospel and the priesthood in our lives. If we don't see or use the priesthood as an aid toward happiness, then something is amiss (and it's not the priesthood that is the problem!).
The final section of the lesson is about priesthood holders "seek[ing] diligently and energetically for spiritual gifts.” Because the priesthood is (currently…) held by men (at least outside of the temple) in the Church, this part of the lesson is focused on men. I recently had a conversation with a friend about the benefits that have come through the “feminization” of society, how in this day and age there tends to be less brutality than in previous ages. Nevertheless, there are many vices that men are particularly prone to, and I am very grateful for the righteous examples that priesthood leaders set, as a light to the world regarding what men should be like and are capable of. News events and headlines have made me especially grateful for the teachings that we receive as men in the Church, particularly about the importance of respecting women, and avoiding harmful ideas, thoughts, images, etc. It is increasingly rare to hear these kinds of values taught, especially outside of religious communities. Being worthy of the priesthood requires these values, and just as God and angels rejoice when such values are adhered to, so do they sorrow when they are not.
Although I have not bothered to offer very many specific quotes in this week’s lesson, I hope these thoughts will help inspire you as your read, study, and ponder this lesson on your own.
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