Wherefore, Be Not Weary in Well Doing

This sermon explores the process of spiritual progression in the context of LDS teachings, emphasizing the importance of abandoning worldly pursuits and striving for a Christlike character. It provides insightful tips to avoid spiritual fatigue and live according to Terrestrial and Celestial laws.

The Zion Quest

About 18 months after the Church was organized, the Prophet Joseph received a series of revelations about what it takes to transform members of the Church of Jesus Christ into members of a Zion-like society. One of these revelations is recorded in Section 64 of the Doctrine and Covenants.

If you recall, Zion, the New Jerusalem, the home of the pure in heart, is the name of the city in Missouri that will be on the earth when the Savior comes again. This is the place where he will dwell and govern for nearly a thousand years. And it is to Zion, and her outlying stakes, where he will begin the earth’s translation into a higher, holier sphere.

Furthermore, we know that during this time, those who lived by Telestial laws, well, they won’t be around anymore. They’ll be sitting in the Telestial section of the Spirit World trying to figure out why it wasn’t a good thing to live by Telestial laws like, “the survival of the fittest,” or “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die,” or “with money you can buy anything in this world.”

They’ll be wondering why they spent so much time listening to Satan, wasting time and resources on things that they couldn’t take with them to the other side of the veil. Without physical bodies they can no longer get the immediate gratification and appetite satisfaction they crave.

Maybe some of them will learn that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to lie, to cheat, to steal, to covet, to be unchaste, to murder and to waste and destroy that which is good. Maybe some will repent, accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ, accept the Ordinances of the Temple, and begin to improve their character and their behavior. If not, they will surely reap the whirlwind that always comes after sowing pain, violence, and destruction to themselves and others. It may take some of them a long time — maybe even a thousand years — to work out their salvation.

But those of us who are on the earth at that time, we will be living higher laws. Since the earth will have received its paradisiacal glory, this means that it, and its inhabitants, are now living the higher Terrestrial laws, and perhaps even some of the Celestial laws.

What’s a Terrestrial law? It means you have developed a pattern of self-control and deferred gratification. It means you are harnessing your natural man and trying to be obedient to the commandments of God. You are willing and able to comply with the basic rules of society, which is why we will experience external peace and safety in this kingdom. Everyone is keeping the 10 Commandments. Thus, when no one breaks their marital vows, steals, lies, takes advantage of others, loses their tempers, or kills, there will be peace throughout the world.

There are no dictators or tyrants or unrighteous monarchs that exploit those under them. Everyone pays their bills, avoids significant debt, holds down a job, isn’t hurtful or offensive, is able to maintain solid relationships and healthy friendships. If you’re in this Terrestrial state, you are obviously trying to become a better person. You still sin and make mistakes, but you consistently repent and try to do better tomorrow. I think at least half of us in the Church, and many in myriad religions and places throughout the world, are currently living these Terrestrial laws.

What’s a Celestial law? This is where we find ourselves becoming more-and-more Christlike. We’re not just doing Christlike behaviors, but we’re becoming a Christlike being. We not only DO the right things, but we THINK and FEEL the right things. Everything we have, everything we are, everything we do — is consecrated to the Lord. The laws of God are not just observed, but they are seared into our souls. We become better and better people with each passing day until one day we find ourselves, with our sealed companions, in a state of exaltation.

The Parable of the Cobbler

Let me tell you a little parable that illustrates these three different laws, which I call The Parable of the Cobbler.

Once upon a time, in a small village nestled between beautiful mountains, lived a humble cobbler named Eli. Eli was known throughout the village not only for his excellent craftsmanship but also for his profound wisdom and kindness. He had a well-established routine: his days were filled with mending shoes and his evenings with reading scriptures and pondering over the teachings of his church leaders.

One day, a wealthy businessman from the city arrived in the village. Seeing Eli’s expertise in shoe-making, he proposed a lucrative deal to mass produce his shoes for city folk. This was a tempting opportunity, promising wealth and fame. It represented a Telestial law, an opportunity driven by the desire for worldly success and recognition.

However, Eli was unsure. His small workshop allowed him to interact personally with his customers, understand their needs, and provide them with well-crafted, comfortable shoes. The businessman’s proposal, though lucrative, would take this personal touch away. After much contemplation, Eli decided to decline the offer. He chose to uphold the Terrestrial law – one that prioritized the well-being of his community and values over personal gain.

Over time, Eli’s reputation spread beyond his village, not only for his excellent craftsmanship but also for his integrity and dedication to his community. He began to train young apprentices, passing on his skills and instilling in them the same values that guided his work.

On a cold winter night, a poor, old woman came to Eli’s workshop with a pair of worn-out shoes. She had no money but needed warm shoes to survive the harsh winter. Without a second thought, Eli spent the entire night making a sturdy pair of warm shoes for the woman. This act of love and charity embodied the Celestial law – the law of love, where one’s happiness is found in the joy of others.

Eli’s life demonstrates that while the allure of worldly success (Telestial law) can be strong, choosing to prioritize community and ethical values (Terrestrial law) brings more profound satisfaction. Finally, when our actions are driven by unconditional love and service to others (Celestial law), we draw closer to becoming Christlike beings.

Being a Part of Zion

If you and I want to be part of this Zion community, then that means we have to immediately abandon everything that is Telestial in our character. And replace it with that which is Terrestrial or Celestial in nature. Of course, we will need to master the Terrestrial laws before we can progress to the Celestial laws. Your experiences in sacred places should teach you that we don’t get to a Celestial place without going through the Terrestrial place, and that Celestialization occurs after our death and resurrection.

Which takes us back to Section 64. If we want to become part of a stake of Zion, and become of one heart and one mind, then Lord has given us some detailed step-by-step instructions. These are found in the scriptures, particularly in the Doctrine and Covenants, as well as from — and especially from — our living prophets.

Furthermore, not everything we need to know is found there though. We also need to be in a position where the Holy Ghost can give us highly-individualized personal revelation from Heavenly Father — and then, when we follow his promptings, he will reveal and burn out our imperfections bit-by-bit and gradually sanctify our souls.

Now let’s get back to taking advice from the scriptures. Let me read you this little gem from verse 33 and 34 of Section 64:

“Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great. Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days.”

I shouldn’t call this advice. This is far more than advice. This is a commandment. We could read this like “Thou shalt not be weary in well-doing.”

Honestly, reading that makes me a little weary. So, I’m going to spend the rest of this article talking about how to better obey this particular commandment. I have thought of five tips that I’m pretty sure will help us avoid being weary as we try to do good things. I’ve tested them out myself, and they really do help.

How to Weary Not

Tip 1 — Stay close to the prophets

To avoid being “tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14) we need to stick close to our prophets as they reveal exactly what Jesus, our Good Shepherd, has told them. Remember, we’re on a journey. Jesus is our leader. He knows where the watering holes are. He knows where the green pastures are. He knows where the deserts and canyons and ravenous wolves lie. And surely, he doth reveal his secrets unto his servants, the prophets (Amos 3:7). The vistas we enjoy today will be different tomorrow. Programs and policies change as needed. Principles are permanent. Stay close to the prophets — the Lord has promised they won’t lead us astray.

Tip 2 — Acquire the Lord’s perspective

The Lord’s program will succeed even if some individuals fail. Look at our history and you’ll see our future. Too many prophecies have been fulfilled to doubt that the other prophecies will come to pass. The stone without hands has been loosed and it is rolling down the mountain gathering size and momentum. Stakes of Zion and holy temples will continue to dot the earth. Those who have ears to hear are listening to the Gospel message and making changes in their lives — but the path will continue to be narrow and never well-treaded. Those who allow themselves to be blinded by the philosophies of men will continue to see little. The incorrigibly wicked will only be with us for a little while longer. Then, sooner than they would like, the Savior will return and usher in the grand Millennium. These things will happen. Prophecy will be fulfilled. It has before and it will again. Of this I have faith. So, acquire the Lord’s perspective. He wins in the end. Just make sure you’re on his team. It doesn’t work out so well for the other guy and his miserable minions.

Tip 3 — Leap before you look

Generally, that’s not good advice, especially if you’re rock climbing, but in the Kingdom of God, spiritual progress is made by walking in the darkness even though we don’t see the light. The first principle is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and will always be faith. It isn’t knowledge. It is faith. After we act in faith — only after we act in faith — and only after our faith is tried — do we receive the sure witness. This sure witness transforms into knowledge that transcends our physical senses. If you’re doubting, do as President Uchtdorf said and set aside your doubts for a bit, take the leap of faith and follow the prophets, then patiently wait for the answers. We’re not here on earth to win Jeopardy or be walking Wikipediaes — we don’t have to know everything — we’re here on earth to see if we can walk by faith when our storms gather and block out the light. So, leap before you look — but only if you’re following the prophets.

Tip 4 — Surround yourself with things that are virtuous, lovely, and praiseworthy

The world offers boatloads of sugar-coated junk food that momentarily satiates appetites and passions but always leaves you with an empty feeling inside. Furthermore, because of their lack of genuine spiritual nutrition, you become even hungrier and consume too many empty calories—wasting time and energy on things that can’t deliver what they promise. It is no wonder that we feel weary and over-stretched. Instead, toss them out like an expired jug of milk. Get rid of those things and then quickly replace them with things that inspire, uplift, ennoble, empower, and edify. Things that bring joy, evoke love, inspire creativity, and motivate you to be a better person. Choose music and movies and media sources that don’t simply stir-up emotions, but energize you to do good things and be more heroic. Read more great books. Spend more quality time with your family and those who need friends. Develop a new talent. Build something. Create something. Teach someone. Mentor someone. Love someone. Cook something for someone. There are so many things that are virtuous, lovely, and of good report than you will never run out of options. Just make sure it eliminates vice and produces virtue in your character. If it does that, it gives you additional energy. It recharges your batteries. It gives you the ability to run and not be weary, and walk and not faint.

Tip 5 — Keep smiling

The roller coaster ride we call life has its moments of sheer terror. But remember that it was all designed by a master architect and built by a master carpenter. It is safe. It is sound. It won’t kill us. (Well, actually, it will kill us in the end, but let skip over that part.) It is a good, solid ride. We won’t experience anything that God thinks that we can’t handle or don’t need to understand. So, fill free to lift your hands in the air, feel the breeze in your hair, follow the safety rules and let the restraints do their job, and enjoy the ride. By all means, feel free to scream now and then, but make sure you smile too. It will be all over with before you know it. Then, some day in the future, we will look back at the fond memories of our earth existence and have a good laugh. I suspect we’ll also cry over our mistakes — I know I will. But I suspect the Lord will wipe away our tears and make it all better.

Conclusion

There are myriad of tips that can help us stay on the path and not get weary in our well-doing. These five things are just a few that are helping me right now. Maybe they will help you too. If not, ask Heavenly Father for some personalized tips. If you ask in faith, with real intent, he will reveal them to you.

Like many of you, I have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our Good Shepherd. He is our Savior. We can accomplish nothing without him. We can accomplish everything with his help.

I also believe his prophets — both ancient and modern, and love to study their words. These words give me encouragement and counsel and answer most of my questions. And that’s good enough for now.

I know that Heavenly Father misses you even more than you miss him. He, and our Heavenly Mother, created you. They carefully designed your life’s blueprint. They made sure you had all the resources you needed to build it. Now they are testing you. You already know the answers. You just have to become more like them today then you were yesterday.

Our Father promised he will help you do it. He will be as involved in your life as you want him to be. Somedays he may seem far away, but in fact, he is right around the corner. He is holding out his arms. He is calling your name. He is ready to welcome you back to your heavenly home — back where you belong.

Let me conclude with the words of an old hymn. It was once in our collection of hymns and is called, “If the Way Be Full of Trial, Weary Not.” The Tabernacle Choir has performed that number for us in several recent General Conferences.

Here are the words by William Flaville, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1829.

If the Way Be Full of Trial, Weary Not!

If the way be full of trial, weary not;
If it’s one of sore denial, weary not;
If it now be one of weeping,
There will come a joyous greeting,
When the harvest we are reaping, weary not.

If the way be one of sorrow, weary not;
Happier will be the morrow, weary not.
Here we suffer tribulation;
Here we must endure temptation;
But there’ll come a great salvation. Weary not.

If misfortunes overtake us, weary not;
Jesus never will forsake us, weary not.
He will leave us never, never;
From his love there’s naught can sever;
Glory to the Lamb forever, weary not.

Do not weary by the way,
Whatever be thy lot;
There awaits a brighter day,
To all, to all who weary not.

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