“January 18–24. Doctrine and Covenants 3–5: ‘My Work Shall Go Forth,’” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Doctrine and Covenants 2021 (2020)
“January 18–24. Doctrine and Covenants 3–5,” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: 2021
Record Your Impressions
During his first few years as the Lord’s prophet, Joseph Smith didn’t yet know everything about the “marvelous work” he had been called to do. But one thing his early experiences taught him was that to qualify for God’s work, his eye must truly be “single to the glory of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 4:1, 5). For example, if the Lord gave him counsel that went against his own desires, he needed to follow the Lord’s counsel. And even if he had “many revelations, and … power to do many mighty works,” if his own will became more important in his eyes than God’s will, he “must fall” (Doctrine and Covenants 3:4). But Joseph learned something else just as important about doing God’s work: “God is merciful,” and if Joseph sincerely repented, he was “still chosen” (verse 10). God’s work is, after all, a work of redemption. And that work “cannot be frustrated” (verse 1).
Early in Joseph Smith’s ministry, good friends were hard to come by—especially friends like Martin Harris, a respected, prosperous man, who was in a position to provide valuable support. And Martin willingly supported Joseph, even though it cost him the respect of his peers and required financial sacrifice.
So it’s easy to see why Joseph wanted to honor Martin’s request to take the first portion of the Book of Mormon translation to show his wife, who doubted the truth of the Book of Mormon. Joseph continued to ask the Lord about this request, even when He forbade it, until finally, after Joseph asked a third time, the Lord said yes. Tragically, the manuscript was lost while it was in Martin’s possession, and Joseph and Martin were sharply chastised by the Lord (see Saints, 1:51–53).
As you read Doctrine and Covenants 3:1–15, ponder how other people’s opinions may be influencing you. You may also note that in addition to rebuking Joseph Smith, the Lord spoke words of mercy. What do you learn from the way the Lord both corrected and encouraged Joseph? What counsel do you find that can help you when you are tempted to fear other people more than God?
See also “The Contributions of Martin Harris,” Revelations in Context, 1–9, history.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Section 4 is often applied to full-time missionaries. However, it’s interesting to note that this revelation was given originally to Joseph Smith Sr., who wasn’t being called on a mission but still had “desires to serve God” (verse 3).
One way to read this section is to imagine it as a job description for someone who wants to do the Lord’s work. What are the qualifications? Why are these skills or characteristics necessary? Perhaps you could prayerfully choose one thing you could do to better “qualify [yourself] for the work” (verse 5).
If you were called to testify in court about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, what evidence would you provide? A similar question was on Martin Harris’s mind when his wife, Lucy, filed a claim that Joseph Smith was deceiving the people by pretending to translate gold plates (see Saints, 1:56–58). So Martin asked Joseph for more evidence that the gold plates were real. Doctrine and Covenants 5 is a revelation in response to Martin’s request.
What do you learn from Doctrine and Covenants 5 about the following:
What does Doctrine and Covenants 5:1–10 teach you about Joseph Smith’s important role in our dispensation—and in your life? Ponder how you have received the word of God through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Consider recording in a journal or sharing with someone your gratitude for the truths that were restored or clarified through him.
See also 2 Nephi 3:6–24.
- Doctrine and Covenants 3:1–4.
Ask a family member to walk in a “crooked” line and then in a “straight” line. What does it mean to our family to know that “[God’s] paths are straight”?
- Doctrine and Covenants 3:7–10.
When someone is pressuring us to disobey God, what truths in these verses can help us remain faithful? Perhaps family members could role-play a situation in which someone remains faithful despite pressure to disobey God.
- Doctrine and Covenants 4.
As your family discusses what it means to work in God’s field, they could do some work in a garden (or pretend to). What tools are needed for gardening work? What does God describe in section 4 that could be considered tools needed to do His work? Your family could discuss why each tool is important in doing God’s work.
- Doctrine and Covenants 5:7.
What are some examples of truths we believe in but can’t see? How could we respond to a friend who wants evidence that the Book of Mormon is true?
For more ideas for teaching children, see this week’s outline in Come, Follow Me—For Primary.
Suggested song: “I Will Be Valiant,” Children’s Songbook, 162.