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Tom just couldn’t bring himself to read the scriptures. “Why spend all that time reading the very thing that I doubt is true,” he would ask himself each time he saw them sitting in the book case. After his mission, sometime while pursuing his degree, Tom had come across some material that created some cognitive dissonance and left him with more questions than answers. He spent some time asking friends and ward members his questions, but no one seemed to have satisfactory answers. The rest just happened gradually until he didn’t attend church or read the scriptures anymore. Friends had sent him various faith-building articles but even they lost their appeal. Now most of his reading added weight to his suspicions that he had been deceived and wasted two years as a missionary.
Tom reached for another donut and then turned to his physics homework. His pre-med studies had become so demanding that he didn’t have time for religion anyway, he rationalized. It seemed like the further he got into his studies, to someday be a doctor, the more demanding it became. The more time he spent hitting the books, the more he gained weight. This was alarming to him as he watched his athletic physique and endurance disappear. But he reasoned, if I am to stay alert enough to understand all the reading, I just needed to chew something, and I might just as well enjoy it. So, the cycle continued.
Step back with me and let us wonder together. Do you see any pattern here? Since we are sent to earth to learn to become like our heavenly parents who do not need food or sleep to stay alive, why do we spend two thirds of our mortal learning-time focused on food or sleep? Perhaps, since the changes to our spirit-selves are nearly invisible to the mortal eye, we were gifted with a kind of meter whereby we can see what happens to our spirits by watching it. What if that meter were our physical-mental-emotional health. What if the same principles that apply to health also applied to our spiritual becoming? One such principle found its way from 1826 into modern expression, “You are what you eat!” A short google search will be enough to establish it as accepted science. But what of its analogue in the spiritual realm?
After the Savior taught the five temple laws, in His Sermon at the Temple, in third Nephi, He taught a capacitating discipleship principle in powerful metaphor, but first:
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 3 Nephi 13:20-21
This lays a foundation for the principle. We treasure things that have value to us and to which we want to maintain access. Our treasures may differ as one man’s treasure is another’s junk. But, commonly we value things and people ranging from our retirement portfolio to our families. The Savior’s key teaching here is that whatever we treasure will become the center of our being, our heart. Stephen Covey[i] taught that whatever is at our center will furnish to us our:
- Source of SECURITY including our self-worth, Identity, and emotional anchor
- Source of GUIDANCE including our direction, standards, values, and interpretation of our life experiences.
- Source of WISDOM including our balance, judgement, discernment and integration of those experiences.
- Source of POWER including our strength to take action, make choices, overcome, or cope.
The Savior further explains that care needs to be taken in choosing our treasures, our sources, by noting that they must be of such a nature as to never degenerate through rust, corruption, nor theft. The vulnerability of our security, guidance, wisdom, and power are tied to the things we choose to treasure. This principle is verified over and over in real life. How many suicides can be linked to a stock market crash, for example? Or, how many people go through serious depression, anxiety, etc. after a divorce or during some radical change in their lives? How many returned missionaries have inadvertently placed their church calling at their center, so that when released they have to navigate the loss of their two-year identity and linked divine worth, along with the realities of a radical change in life circumstances. The loss of one’s sense of identity, guidance, power and security, can leave one feeling worthless and out of control.
This is powerful and foundational but leaves us with a question, “How can I keep from putting rustable, corruptible or “thievable” things in my heart, at my center?” The ensuing verses teach the principle, but their connection is often missed without careful pondering.
The light of the body is the eye; if, therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If, therefore, the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!
No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon. 3 Nephi 13: 22-24
Is it possible that our eyes serve not only to give sight through the brain, but also serve as a data port to our hearts? Job said it this way:
Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity.
If my step hath turned out of the way, and mine heart walked after mine eyes, and if any blot hath cleaved to mine hands; Then… Job 31:6-8
If one cannot control their eyes; what they consume, they cannot predict or control their walk – their destination. Peter found this to be true as he walked upon the water. The loss of focus always precedes the loss of faith.
The Savior’s conclusion in verse 24 is a simple and clear statement of reality; how things work, whether we like it or not. We serve that which we treasure, therefore our treasure becomes the master we serve; and we cannot serve two treasures or masters. His dichotomy is either treasure God or the world. And, God is the only non-vulnerable treasure we could choose. Everything else, including spouse, children or church are vulnerable to the variables of mortality. Our center, our focus, generated from what we consume with our eyes, determines the condition of our heart, our discipleship. This is the key explanation to that introductory Beatitude: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”[ii] We become what we consume!
[i] Divine Center, Stephen R. Covey; p 19-22
[ii] 3 Nephi 12:8; DC 67:10-2; DC 93:1; DC 88:68