“May 17–23. Doctrine and Covenants 51–57: ‘A Faithful, a Just, and a Wise Steward,’” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Doctrine and Covenants 2021 (2020)
“May 17–23. Doctrine and Covenants 51–57,” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: 2021
Record Your Impressions
For Church members in the 1830s, gathering the Saints and building the city of Zion were spiritual as well as temporal works, with many practical matters to address: Someone needed to purchase and distribute land where the Saints could settle. Someone needed to print books and other publications. And someone needed to run a store to provide goods to those in Zion. In the revelations recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 51–57, the Lord appointed and instructed people to handle these tasks, and He identified Independence, Missouri, as “the center place” of Zion (Doctrine and Covenants 57:3).
But while skills in such things as purchasing land, printing, and running a store are valuable to the temporal work of building Zion, these revelations also teach that the Lord desires His Saints to become spiritually worthy to be called a Zion people. He calls each of us to be “a faithful, a just, and a wise steward,” having a contrite spirit, “stand[ing] fast” in our appointed responsibilities (see Doctrine and Covenants 51:19; 52:15; 54:2). If we can do that—regardless of our temporal skills—the Lord can use us to build Zion, and He “will hasten the city in its time” (Doctrine and Covenants 52:43).
If you were a member of the Church in 1831, you might have been invited to live the law of consecration by signing over your property to the Church through the bishop. He would then return to you, in most cases, what you donated, sometimes with a surplus. But it was no longer just your possession—it was your stewardship.
Today the procedures are different, but the principles of consecration and stewardship are still vital to the Lord’s work. Consider these words from Elder Quentin L. Cook: “We live in perilous times when many believe we are not accountable to God and that we do not have personal responsibility or stewardship for ourselves or others. Many in the world are focused on self-gratification … [and] do not believe they are their brother’s keeper. In the Church, however, we believe that these stewardships are a sacred trust” (“Stewardship—a Sacred Trust,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2009, 91).
As you read section 51, think about what God has entrusted to you. What do the words “steward” (verse 19) and “consecrated” (verse 5) mean, and what do they imply about God’s expectations of you? What principles do you find in section 51 and in Elder Cook’s words that teach you what it means to be a steward? (see especially verses 9, 15–20).
See also Matthew 25:14–30; “The Law of Consecration,” video, ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
With many people claiming spiritual manifestations, the early Saints were concerned about being deceived. How could they tell who was “accepted of [God]”? (verse 15). In Doctrine and Covenants 52:14–19, the Lord gave a helpful pattern. How can you apply this pattern to detect false messages in the world? You might also use this pattern to evaluate yourself: consider using phrases from these verses to write questions such as “When I speak, is my spirit contrite?”
As part of the gathering to Ohio, a group of Saints led by Newel Knight arrived from Colesville, New York, and needed a place to live. Leman Copley had a large farm near Kirtland, and he covenanted to allow the Saints to settle on his land. However, soon after they started settling there, Copley wavered in his faith, broke his covenant, and evicted the Saints from his property (see Saints, 1:125–28).
As recorded in section 54, the Lord told Newel Knight what the Saints should do about their situation. What do you find in this revelation that can help you when another person’s broken commitments or other poor choices affect you?
In these verses, the Lord spoke both to the rich and to the poor; it might be interesting to compare His counsel to these two groups. What in these verses feels relevant to you personally? How can focusing on riches “canker” your soul? (verse 16). What does it mean to you to be “pure in heart” (verse 18) regarding material things?
See also Jacob 2:17–21.
Doctrine and Covenants 51:9.You could play a game that the family enjoys and then talk about how the game would have been different if someone had cheated. Why is it important to “deal honestly” with each other? How does honesty help us “be one”?
Doctrine and Covenants 52:14–19.As you discuss the pattern described in these verses, your family might enjoy looking at other patterns you use—such as patterns for sewing clothing or making a craft. You could work together to make something from a pattern while talking about the pattern the Lord gave for avoiding deception.
Doctrine and Covenants 53:1.Consider sharing with your family an experience when you, like Sidney Gilbert, asked the Lord “concerning your calling.”
Doctrine and Covenants 54:2; 57:6–7.What does it mean to “stand fast” (Doctrine and Covenants 54:2) in what God has asked us to do? You could invite family members to stand and name something God has asked them to do.
Doctrine and Covenants 55.How did the Lord use William Phelps’s abilities as a writer and printer? (for example, see the author index in the hymnbook for a list of hymns he wrote). Maybe family members could talk about the talents and abilities they see in each other. How can our talents contribute to God’s work?
For more ideas for teaching children, see this week’s outline in Come, Follow Me—For Primary.
Suggested song: “‘Give,’ Said the Little Stream,” Children’s Songbook, 236.