My Come, Follow Me studies took me to Doctrine and Covenants 81-83 this week. Section 82 contains a revelation that was given to the Prophet Joseph Smith in Independence, Jackson County, Missouri, on April 26, 1832. The Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual for Religion 324-325 gives the following background information for this section.
In 1832 the Church had two centers of growing membership: one in Kirtland, Ohio, and one in Jackson County, Missouri. To assist needy Saints and to generate revenue that could be used to purchase land in Zion (Jackson County) and publish the revelations, a storehouse was established in each location (see ; ). In November 1831, the Lord appointed a group of Church leaders to be “stewards over the revelations and commandments” () and see to their publication. Later, the Lord commanded that a “firm” be organized to manage the literary and mercantile endeavors of the Church (see the section headings to and ).
The principle for this essay comes from Doctrine and Covenants 82:3: “For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation.” The Lord emphasized to leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in this revelation that they were blessed with a greater understanding of God’s plan than were most people, and they would also be held accountable for what they did with that greater knowledge.
The same is true of all people today. God will hold us accountable for the knowledge that we have. Those who have received greater understanding of Heavenly Father and His plan for the eternal happiness of His children will be held accountable for that understanding. There are other scriptures that teach the same principle. James 4:17 says, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
Alma 9:23 says, “And now behold I say unto you, that if this people, who have received so many blessings from the hand of the Lord, should transgress contrary to the light and knowledge which they do have, I say unto you that if this be the case, that if they should fall into transgression, it would be far more tolerable for the Lamanites than for them.”
These scriptures tell us that God requires His children to live the higher law once they receive it. A modern-day Apostles, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, explained it this way:
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having a witness of His reality not only from the Bible but also from the Book of Mormon; knowing His priesthood has been restored to the earth; having made sacred covenants to follow Him and received the gift of the Holy Ghost; having been endowed with power in His holy temple; and being part of preparing for His glorious return to the earth, we cannot compare what we are to be with those who have not yet received these truths. “Unto whom much is given much is required” [D&C 82:3] (“Never Leave Him,” Ensign, November 2010, 41).
This principle applies in all areas of our lives. If the Lord has blessed us with greater knowledge, we are required to share that knowledge with others. If He has blessed us with worldly goods – food, clothing, etc. – He requires us to share with those who need our sustenance. If He has blessed us with freedom and liberty, He requires us to appreciate what we have and to help others to gain the same. “Where much is given, much is required.”