Cover image: Nauvoo the Beautiful, by Larry Winborg.
The Lord Delights in Integrity
When speaking about professional golfer Tony Finau, Jon Rahm said, “If you don’t like Tony Finau, there’s something seriously wrong with you.”
Tony Finau is a golfer who first came on to the professional scene in 2013 playing on the PGA tour Canada. Then he qualified for his PGA tour card in 2014.
You see to golf on the PGA tour, you have to earn your way. Since 1965, you have to qualify at the PGA qualifying tournament called Q school. Nowadays it’s the web.com tournaments. So, if you’re a new player like Finau was, you had to earn your spot by being in web.com tour play.
In the final tournament of 2014, he was battling for his finish spot which could determine whether he got his pro tour card. So much was riding on his play in those few days. It could eventually mean millions of dollars and entry into the PGA.
On an approach shot, Tony was making several practice swings. Then on his set up for his shot, he ever so lightly touched the ball with his club and the ball made a tiny movement. No one saw it, no cameras were recording his shot, but Tony saw it. He had a choice. Notify the officials or let it go. A single shot could make a difference in his future as a golfer if it meant making a difference in qualifying.
We all have such moments in life. No one watching. No cameras rolling. Will we live true to our values? Will we live up to what matters most?
Well, Tony called over the other players and informed them what had happened and he took a penalty shot. He said, “My father taught me to always be honest and never give up. I have always tried to do both.”
Finau would qualify for his pro card and would go on to win his first PGA tournament in 2016. Just a few months ago, he won his second PGA tournament at the Northern Trust. Finau, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is the first PGA golfer to be of Tongan and Samoan descent. Tony and his wife have four children.
Now, Tony is not the only golfer to demonstrate his desire to live in harmony with his values. Brian Davis was in South Carolina in a playoff with the chance to win his only PGA tournament. He hit his ball near the water and on his back swing he hit his club on a small grass reed. He called a two-shot penalty on himself. As a result, he got a double bogie on the hole, lost to Jim Furyk and it cost Davis $550,000.
Jon Huntsman was the founder of Huntsman chemical. When the company was still young and growing, Huntsman made a hand shake deal with another company. The handshake deal to was sell 40 percent of Huntsman Chemical Corp.
Huntsman had agreed to sell for $53 million, but after six months of delays, the value had ballooned to $250 million. Huntsman could easily have renegotiated the deal. He could have said, “oh, the market has changed.” But he stuck with the original deal despite the change in economic circumstances.
“I must tell you that throughout the last 12 to 15 years there have been many times I have wondered, ‘What about that $200 million?’ ” Huntsman said, “That’s a fortune, a mammoth fortune. I let it slip away. And on the other hand, I say, ‘My children are all in business. They know their father; they understand an agreement. If it was for $53 million or just $53, the principle is still the same. A deal is a deal. A handshake is a handshake. Integrity is integrity.”[i]
Throughout the scriptures, the Lord expresses love for those who have integrity of heart. In D&C 124:15 the Lord said he loved Hyrum Smith: “because of the integrity of his heart, and because he loveth that which is right before me.”
Years ago, Elder Marvin J. Ashton told BYU students about paintings and portraits that hung on the fourth-floor of the Salt Lake temple. It’s on the fourth floor where general authorities meet to council one with another and make decisions. And influencing their decisions at the time were pictures hanging on the wall. These paintings included a portrayal of Christ calling Peter and Andrew, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection.
In addition, were portraits of the prophets of this dispensation. There was one portrait hanging on the wall that Elder Ashton wanted to highlight. He said:
“In this setting there [was] only one other picture in the entire room, and that is of Joseph Smith’s brother Hyrum. It is not only appropriate but a genuine tribute, proper and purposeful, that the portrait of this great man is on display with the Savior and the prophets of this dispensation. Not only a faithful brother and advocate of Joseph’s, but for all of us who meet there regularly he is the personification of integrity.”[ii]
Like Elder Ashton who sat in meetings on the fourth floor and was influenced by the portrait and example of Hyrum Smith, we too can take our inspiration from Hyrum and his personification of integrity to help us in our decision making.
Joseph Smith would write: “There was my brother [Hyrum] who next took me by the hand—a natural brother. Thought I to myself, Brother Hyrum, what a faithful heart you have got! Oh, may the Eternal Jehovah crown eternal blessings upon your head, and a reward for the care you have had for my soul! O how many are the sorrows we have shared together; and again we find ourselves shackled with the unrelenting hand of oppression. Hyrum, thy name shall be written in the book of the Law of the Lord, for those who come after thee to look upon that they may pattern after thy works.”[iii]
Hyrum was not the only person of integrity mentioned in Section 124. There are other saints praised for the integrity of their heart. Among them was George Miller. Before his conversion, Miller gave thousands of bushels of grain to the saints as they fled Missouri as well as the Prophet Joseph.
“When he heard the Prophet preach, he wrote, ‘I had no remaining doubts left in regard to the truth of the prophet.’ After being baptized, Miller was persecuted for his beliefs, he said:
‘My cattle were shot on the prairies…. My fences [were] laid down, and the flocks and herds of the prairies turned on my grain fields. I was vexed by petty lawsuits. Men that I had never had dealings with would recover sums of money from me, by bringing into the justice’s court false witnesses, and those that owed me would prove payment.’
His close association with the Prophet was the highlight of his years in Nauvoo: ‘I have known Joseph Smith intimately for near three & a half years,’ he wrote. ‘I unhesitatingly aver that … a more generous, liberal, honorable, high toned virtuous man, never existed on the footstool of the great Jehovah.'”[iv]
Integrity is defined as “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness” and “the state of being whole and undivided.” It seems that in today’s world we are often divided in our views. We embrace some teachings of modern prophets but are divided on others. We want to be selective in what we choose to follow. But integrity is the state of being whole: wholehearted in testimony, undivided in loyalty, and upright in our efforts to follow the prophets.
In these trying times, we pray for our children to remain whole in their faith and undivided in their testimony. There are so many devices used by Satan in our day to divide our testimony and entice us into half-hearted gospel living. It’s not easy with the tossing and turning caused by media, social media and criticism-laden voices of our day. Stress, depression, mood and popular opinion all have their way on our wholeness.
We could all use a portrait of Hyrum on the wall of our decision making to remind us that we will be protected and guided if we remain undivided in our testimony of the prophet and follow his teachings.
A Season Set Apart
Section 124 came at a time of temporary reprieve for the saints:
“In the year 1841, when [D&C 124] was given, this beautiful city had about 3,000 inhabitants. A charter had been granted by the Illinois Legislature, by which Nauvoo was given a liberal municipal government, with authority to form a militia and erect a university. A Temple was about to be built. The scattered Saints were gathering, and the settlements in Illinois were growing rapidly. The mission in Great Britain was highly successful. Such were the general conditions when this Revelation was given. The Church had a moment’s rest. There was calm before the next storm.”[v]
In Illinois, the saints found some kindness and hope. What a timely blessing for a group of people who endured so much for the cause of Jesus Christ. For a short while, they had a season to recover, rest and prepare for what was to come.
I believe the Lord gives us seasons in our life. Seasons in which we have the opportunity, perhaps even a calling, to grow, prepare and learn as the Lord wants us to grow.
Years ago, I learned this lesson first hand. I was the president of international for a large company. I was on the road every week. Long flights, lots of nights in hotel rooms. At first, I found myself reading a lot of novels or watching TV during my travel time. But as I looked at who I was becoming I decided that if for the next 3-5 years, I had to do this job, then I would do my best to take advantage of the time.
I had always thought that someday I would get my Ph.D. so I could become a college professor at some point in life. So, I enrolled in a Ph.D. program and used travel and idle time to read and do research. It was one of the greatest times of my life. I learned so much about me, about my area of study and about people. Life gave me a season and it became a great blessing to me.
Perhaps this is a season of life in which you are called to serve in a particular way. Perhaps as a father or mother, this is the season to become the best father or mother you can become. Perhaps this is a season to learn more in the scriptures. What season of life are you in and how could you serve the Lord or become more like him in this season?
As we look back to Nauvoo, perhaps this was the season in which the saints learned the pattern for temple building and ordinances. They would put these skills to use in the future building temples that would stand for years to come.
The Command to Build a Temple
Of the 145 verses in D&C 124, 34 verses are written instructions relative to the temple, building of the temple or ordinances related to the temple. The commandment to build a temple had been part of revelations to the saints since they first settled in Kirkland. In fact, of the three temples that had been commanded to be built, only one—Kirtland was actually constructed. Jackson County and Far West temples were never built. And, Kirtland would only be in use for 20 months.
With this track record, you must ask whether the saints questioned the commandment to build a temple in Nauvoo. I am sure they asked, Would the Nauvoo temple be completed? How long would they live in Nauvoo? Should they give of their meager substance to build a house to the Lord that may never be completed or used?
Perhaps they remembered the great miracles that happened in Kirtland as they built and dedicated that temple. Perhaps they talked to those who had done sacred ordinances in the temple. Perhaps they had the Spirit witness to be obedient no matter what.
Regardless, in August of 1840, when the prophet announced the intention to build a temple, the saints voted unanimously to begin excavation and build the temple. For four years, the saints sacrificed and worked in building the temple. Many gave the last of their possessions in obedience to the Lord’s command.
“However, once the temple started, persecution grew. After the death of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young saw that the church members would need to leave Nauvoo. They moved quickly to finish the temple. In November 1845, the top story of the temple was dedicated and the first endowments were performed in the temple. The ordinances would continue while the remaining floors were finished.
Brigham Young had planned to leave Nauvoo on February 4, 1846, but as he left the temple the night prior, he saw a large crowd of people waiting to receive their endowments. He delayed his departure for two weeks in order to serve them. Temple records relate that 5,615 Church members were able to receive the temple endowment before leaving Nauvoo.”[vi]
The brethren tried to sell the temple. But there were no immediate buyers. Ultimately the saints left the temple behind as they headed west.
“Then, on October 9, 1848, fire destroyed the temple. The History of Hancock County describes the scene:
‘About 3 o’clock (in the morning) fire was discovered in the cupola. It had made but little headway when first seen, but spread rapidly, and in a very short period the lofty spire was a mass of flame, shooting high in the air, and illuminating a wide extent of country. It was seen for miles away. The citizens gathered around, but nothing could be done to save the structure. It was entirely of wood except the walls, and nothing could have stopped the progress of the flames. In two hours, and before the sun dawned upon the earth, the proud structure, reared at so much cost—an anomaly in architecture, and a monument of religious zeal—stood with four blackened and smoking walls only remaining.’”[vii]
If the saints were to only have the temple for a short time, why then the command from the Lord to build a temple? The Lord answers this question in D&C 124:55: “to build a house to my name, even in this place, that you may prove yourselves unto me that ye are faithful in all things whatsoever I command you, that I may bless you and crown you with honor, immortality, and eternal life.”
While temples are important, the most important work, what really matters is what happens inside those temples: the ordinances, and what happens inside those that build and attend the temples. If the Lord wanted buildings, he could have them. What the Lord wants is what happens to us in the sacrifice for and building of temples.
I suspect that those who labored to build the Nauvoo temple grew spiritually during that season of their life and what they found in the building was godly traits that would last them for eternity. The temple building itself would burn, but the eternal characteristics built in the saints would last forever.
You also have to wonder the worth of temple ordinances. Could it be that the Lord loved those that received their ordinances in the temple so much that he would require the building of a temple to provide for those ordinances to be done? I think so. Ordinances are priceless. And it would not be the last time that ordinances would be performed in Nauvoo.
In 1937, the church acquired a portion of the temple block in Nauvoo. Eventually, the church would acquire all of the land where the Nauvoo temple once stood. Then, in the April 1999 general conference, President Hinckley announced that the Nauvoo temple would be rebuilt.
This time, professional laborers and contractors would build the Nauvoo temple. The tithes and offerings of millions of saints would support and pay for the construction. And I wonder if those original saints who gave so much for the construction of the temple were allowed to be present on June 22, 2002 for the dedication of the Nauvoo temple in our day. The temple today stands as a monument to the saints who gave so much to build a temple they would not be able to attend.
Now, what is the lesson for us in our day? The Lord will give revelations to his prophet that sometimes make little sense at the time. We are asked to give and do what we may not want to do without perfect clarity. But remember the Lord is building us on the inside and wants to prove our faithfulness in all things. His work will be accomplished both inside us and on the earth.
Place Your Trust in God Alone
In November 1839, Joseph Smith and a few of the brethren travelled to Washington D.C. to make an appeal to the president of the United States for wrongs done to the saints in Missouri. Joseph would record the following:
“On Friday morning, 29th, we proceeded to the house of the President. We found a very large and splendid palace, surrounded with a splendid enclosure, decorated with all the fineries and elegancies of this world. We went to the door and requested to see the President, when we were immediately introduced into an upper apartment, where we met the President, and were introduced into his parlor, where we presented him with our letters of introduction. As soon as he had read one of them, he looked upon us with a half frown, and said, ‘What can I do? I can do nothing for you! If I do anything, I shall come in contact with the whole state of Missouri.’”[viii]
Joseph realized that President Van Buren was in office for his own self-aggrandizement and worried more about votes than doing the right thing. So, they took their appeal to congress. They left hopeful that the Senate would take up the matter and seek justice in the matter. However, they soon learned that the matter never made it past the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The prophet Joseph concluded that they had brought the matter before all earthly tribunals and they would trust in God for whatever could be done in their circumstances. As the scripture says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6).
To place our will and trust in the hands of the Lord is perhaps our most significant quest in life. Government leaders will fail, governments will topple, degrees and certifications will not endure, wealth will disappear and misplaced confidence in the world will falter. But trust in the Lord will endure and stand. Even when wrongs have been done and what we want in our time does not come to pass, if we trust in the Lord, all things will work together for our good.
The Keys Remain with the Twelve
In D&C 124:127-128, the Lord says, “I give unto you my servant aBrigham Young to be a president over the Twelve traveling council; Which Twelve hold the keys to open up the authority of my kingdom upon the four corners of the earth, and after that to send my word to every creature.”
About this revelation, President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “The winter of 1843-1844 was a season of great tension in Nauvoo. Enemies were plotting the destruction of the Church. During that winter, on a number of occasions, Joseph assembled the Twelve in the upper room of his brick store on Water Street in Nauvoo. Our archives contain a number of documents attesting to these meetings and what was done in them. I have time to quote from the record of only one who was present. There were many. Wrote he of Joseph Smith:
“‘This great and good man was led, before his death, to call the Twelve together, from time to time, and to instruct them in all things pertaining to the kingdom, ordinances, and government of God. He often observed that he was laying the foundation, but it would remain for the Twelve to complete the building. Said he, ‘I know not why; but for some reason I am constrained to hasten my preparations, and to confer upon the Twelve all the ordinances, keys, covenants, endowments, and sealing ordinances of the priesthood … for, said he, the Lord is about to lay the burden on your shoulders and let me rest awhile; and if they kill me … the kingdom of God will roll on, as I have now finished the work which was laid upon me, by committing to you all things for the building up of the kingdom according to the heavenly vision, and the pattern shown me from heaven.’ (Parley P. Pratt, “Proclamation,” Millennial Star, 5, 151.)
“As you know, Joseph Smith was killed by the Carthage mob on June 27, 1844. On the following 8th of August a congregation of thousands assembled in Nauvoo. Sidney Rigdon, who had served as a counselor to Joseph Smith, spoke for an hour and a half, proposing that he be appointed guardian of the Church. There was no affirmative response. That afternoon Brigham Young spoke on behalf of the Apostles. Many present testified that he looked and sounded like the martyred Prophet. When, following his talk, a proposal was put that the Twelve lead the Church, having been given the keys by Joseph, the vote was overwhelmingly in favor. (“The Joseph Smith III Document and the Keys of the Kingdom,” Ensign, May 1981, 20).[ix]
Today we sustain the Quorum of the Twelve apostles as prophets, seers and revelators. And we understand that they hold the keys of the kingdom. This order provides the succession, revelatory process and leadership needed for our day.
D&C 124 is filled with lessons for our day. We can look to Hyrum, George Miller and others to guide us in making decisions and filling our life with integrity. The building of the Nauvoo temple, built under the unanimous support of the saints, stood only for a short while. But the ordinances done there were of great value, the obedience forged there would guide the saints for years to come, and the land dedicated for a temple would eventually hold a temple in the latter days.
When we place our trust in governments and organizations of the world, we must realize they will likely fail. When we place our trust in God, we can rely on him no matter what. And while many wonderful things happened in the season in Nauvoo, perhaps one of the most important was the education of the twelve who hold the keys of the kingdom.
[ii] Marvin J. Ashton, He Loveth That Which is Right, BYU Speeches, March 5, 1989.
[iii] As quoted in He Loveth That Which is Right, BYU Speeches, March 5, 1989.
[iv] Susan Easton Black, Who’s Who in the Doctrine and Covenants, 196 – 197.
[v] Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl, Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, 768.
[vi] Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual, 303–304. The Nauvoo Temple: Destruction and Rebirth.
[vii] The Nauvoo Temple in Andrew Jenson, ed., Historical Record, June 1989, 872-873.
[viii] BYU Studies, Volume 4, Chapter3, The Prophet’s Effort at Washington to Obtain Redress of Grievances for the Saints, byustudies.byu.edu.
[ix] Gordon B. Hinckley as quoted at https://www.gospeldoctrine.com/doctrine-and-covenants/sections-121-138/section-124.