What we don’t use wastes away
February 1971

“What we don’t use wastes away,” Ensign, Feb. 1971, 22

“What we don’t use wastes away”

“The Spoken Word” from Temple Square, presented over KSL and the Columbia Broadcasting System November 22, 1970. © 1970.

From Hippocrates there is a sentence which says, “What we use flourishes. What we don’t use wastes away.”1 One way of expressing gratitude would be to use well what we have—material things, talents, time, opportunities—sympathy, compassion. In many ways there is a steady process of perishability. Time goes no matter what we do with it—whether we use it well or waste it away. The products of the good earth are in some ways the same: Much is produced that is never used well. There is much that piles up unneeded in some places and doesn’t get to where it is most needed in others. There is much satisfaction in knowing that some things are ours, but there is a difference between having and using, and hoarding. Letting things pile up and deteriorate, unused, where they occupy space and collect dust, serving no good purpose and doing little good to anyone, is a sterile waste. On another side of this subject: If a person receives a gift from someone who gives sincerely, and acts as if he doesn’t need or want it, or just lets it lie idle and doesn’t use it, it is a disappointment to the giver and appears to be an evidence of ingratitude. Both use and appreciation are elements of gratitude, and sincere gratitude includes using well what God has given, for our own benefit and blessing, and for others also—remembering that material things are perishable, that talents will shrivel and waste away unless we use them well, and that the time to do what needs to be done is when it needs to be done—for time is the essence of all our opportunities. It is precious, perishable, irreplaceable, and it won’t wait. This is the day this day’s work should be done. “What we use flourishes. What we don’t use wastes away.”


  1. Hippocrates, Greek physician (460–377 B.C.).