“Chapter 22: Doctrine and Covenants 59–62,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual (2017)
“Chapter 22,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual
On Sunday, August 7, 1831, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 59 while in Jackson County, Missouri. In this revelation the Lord set forth His expectations for the Saints who had recently arrived in Zion, including proper Sabbath day observance. The Lord also confirmed that those who keep His commandments will receive temporal and spiritual blessings.
The following day Joseph Smith and several elders prepared to leave Independence, Missouri, and return to Ohio. In the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 60, the Lord instructed the elders to preach the gospel as they traveled. On the third day of their journey, the company experienced danger on the Missouri River. During the next two days, August 12 and 13, the Prophet received two revelations, which are recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 61 and 62. They include words of instruction, warning, comfort, and encouragement.
- August 2–3, 1831
Land in Jackson County, Missouri, was dedicated for the establishment of Zion, and a site for the temple was dedicated in Independence, Missouri.
- August 4, 1831
A Church conference was held in Jackson County, Missouri.
- August 7, 1831
After falling ill while traveling from Ohio to Missouri with the Colesville Saints, Polly Knight, the wife of Joseph Knight Sr., died in Jackson County, Missouri.
- August 7, 1831
Doctrine and Covenants 59 was received.
- August 8, 1831
Doctrine and Covenants 60 was received.
- August 9, 1831
Joseph Smith and ten elders left Missouri for Kirtland, Ohio, traveling by way of the Missouri River.
- August 12–13, 1831
- August 27, 1831
Joseph Smith arrived in Kirtland, Ohio.
On Sunday, August 7, 1831, the Prophet Joseph Smith attended the funeral service for Polly Knight, the wife of Joseph Knight Sr. and the first Church member to die in Zion. Polly was a member of the Colesville Branch and had left Ohio determined to see the land of Zion. Despite her failing health, “she would not consent to stop traveling,” her son Newel recalled. “Her only, or her greatest desire, was to set her feet upon the land of Zion, and to have her body interred in that land. … The Lord gave her the desire of her heart, and she lived to stand upon that land” (“Newel Knight’s Journal,” in Scraps of Biography: Tenth Book of the Faith Promoting Series , 70; see also History of the Church, 1:199, footnote). On the same day as Polly Knight’s funeral, Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 59, which promises eternal blessings for the faithful Saints in Zion.
During the summer of 1831, as Church members settled in Jackson County, Missouri, they encountered a frontier community whose conduct sharply contrasted with the laws and standards of the gospel. Gambling, drinking, and violence were prevalent among the residents, some of whom had come to the Missouri frontier to avoid the justice of the law. These residents also had a blatant disregard for the Sabbath day that was noticed not only by the Saints but by other travelers who came to Missouri. One Protestant missionary observed: “Christian Sabbath observance here appears to be unknown. It is a day for merchandising, jollity, drinking, gambling, and general anti-Christian conduct” (in T. Edgar Lyon, “Independence, Missouri, and the Mormons, 1827–1833,” BYU Studies, vol. 13, no. 1 , 16). A traveler passing through western Missouri in 1833 observed that “the only indications of its being Sunday [were] the unusual Gambling & noise & assemblies around taverns” (Edward Ellsworth, in John Treat Irving Jr., Indian Sketches: Taken during an Expedition to the Pawnee Tribes (1833), ed. John Francis McDermott, new ed. , xxii). In this environment the Lord outlined standards of conduct for those Saints gathering to Zion.
The Lord promised eternal blessings to the Saints who obeyed His gospel and came to the land of Zion with an eye single to His glory. He also promised to crown, or reward, His faithful Saints “with commandments not a few and with revelations in their time” (D&C 59:4). Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that the Lord’s commandments are blessings:
“Commandments are a blessing … because our Father in heaven has given them to us in order to help us grow and develop the qualities we must have if we are to obtain eternal life and dwell with him. By keeping his commandments, we qualify for his blessings. …
“We should rejoice in the commandments of God and recognize them as valuable gifts from a loving Father to his children” (“The Blessings of Commandments,” [Brigham Young University devotional, Sept. 10, 1974], 2, 4, speeches.byu.edu).
After explaining that the faithful will be crowned with blessings, commandments, and revelations, the Lord emphasized several commandments to the Saints, beginning with the commandment to love God with all our heart, might, mind, and strength. President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) explained that the commandment to love God encompasses all areas of our lives:
“To love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength is all-consuming and all-encompassing. It is no lukewarm endeavor. It is total commitment of our very being—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—to a love of the Lord.
“The breadth, depth, and height of this love of God extend into every facet of one’s life. Our desires, be they spiritual or temporal, should be rooted in a love of the Lord. Our thoughts and affections should be centered on the Lord. …
“We must put God in the forefront of everything else in our lives. He must come first, just as He declares in the first of His Ten Commandments: ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me’ (Exodus 20:3).
“When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities” (“The Great Commandment—Love the Lord,” Ensign, May 1988, 4).
When we love God with all our hearts, we naturally desire to obey His commandments, serve Him, and love our neighbor as ourselves (see D&C 59:6). If we truly love God and our neighbor, we will not desire to sin against others by stealing, committing adultery, killing, or doing “anything like unto it” (D&C 59:6). If we love God we will recognize His hand in our lives and give thanks to Him “in all things” (D&C 59:7) and will gladly offer Him a broken, or repentant, heart and a contrite, obedient spirit (see D&C 59:8).
Following His death and Resurrection, the Savior told the Nephites that they should no longer offer blood sacrifices to Him; they were now to offer sacrifices of a broken heart and a contrite spirit (see 3 Nephi 9:19–20). The Lord reiterated this new sacrifice numerous times in modern revelation, including revelation to the Saints who sought to establish Zion (see D&C 59:8; see also D&C 20:37; 56:17–18; 97:8).
To have a broken heart and a contrite spirit means that we are humble and submissive to God’s will. It means that we feel sorrow for sin and sincerely desire to repent and live in harmony with God’s plan. Elder Bruce D. Porter (1952–2016) of the Seventy explained how the Savior’s life exemplified what that means:
“What are a broken heart and a contrite spirit? And why are they considered a sacrifice?
“As in all things, the Savior’s life offers us the perfect example: though Jesus of Nazareth was utterly without sin, He walked through life with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, as manifested by His submission to the will of the Father. ‘For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me’ (John 6:38). To His disciples He said, ‘Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart’ (Matthew 11:29). And when the time came to pay the ultimate sacrifice entailed in the Atonement, Christ shrank not to partake of the bitter cup but submitted completely to His Father’s will.
“The Savior’s perfect submission to the Eternal Father is the very essence of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Christ’s example teaches us that a broken heart is an eternal attribute of godliness. When our hearts are broken, we are completely open to the Spirit of God and recognize our dependence on Him for all that we have and all that we are. The sacrifice so entailed is a sacrifice of pride in all its forms. Like malleable clay in the hands of a skilled potter, the brokenhearted can be molded and shaped in the hands of the Master” (“A Broken Heart and a Contrite Spirit,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 31–32).
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles suggested one way we can offer this sacrifice to the Lord:
“You can offer the Lord the gift of your broken, or repentant, heart and your contrite, or obedient, spirit. In reality, it is the gift of yourself—what you are and what you are becoming.
“Is there something in you or in your life that is impure or unworthy? When you get rid of it, that is a gift to the Savior. Is there a good habit or quality that is lacking in your life? When you adopt it and make it part of your character, you are giving a gift to the Lord” (“When Thou Art Converted,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 12).
During His final hours in mortality, the Savior prayed that the Father would not take His disciples “out of the world” but “keep them from the evil” (John 17:15). Nearly two thousand years later, His Saints in Missouri found themselves amidst lawless and profane individuals, and the Lord promised that they could remain unspotted from the sin and unrighteousness of the world if they would worship and honor Him “upon [His] holy day” (D&C 59:9).
Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained how honoring the Sabbath day helps keep us unspotted from the world: “Honoring the Sabbath is a form of righteousness that will bless and strengthen families, connect us with our Creator, and increase happiness. The Sabbath can help separate us from that which is frivolous, inappropriate, or immoral. It allows us to be in the world but not of the world” (“Shipshape and Bristol Fashion: Be Temple Worthy—in Good Times and Bad Times,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2015, 41–42).
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that “a sacrament could be any one of a number of gestures or acts or ordinances that unite us with God and his limitless powers” (“Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments,” in Jeffrey R. Holland and Patricia T. Holland, On Earth As It Is in Heaven , 193). Acts that bring us close to God and fill us with His power include praying, singing hymns, giving and receiving priesthood blessings, sharing testimonies, studying the scriptures, giving service, and renewing covenants through the partaking of the sacrament.
The Lord has designated the Sabbath day as a day to rest from the rigors of our daily labors. It is a day for both spiritual and physical renewal. President James E. Faust (1920–2007) of the First Presidency highlighted some of the blessings of resting from our labors on the Sabbath day: “Over a lifetime of observation, it is clear to me that the farmer who observes the Sabbath day seems to get more done on his farm than he would if he worked seven days. The mechanic will be able to turn out more and better products in six days than in seven. The doctor, the lawyer, the dentist, the scientist will accomplish more by trying to rest on the Sabbath than if he tries to utilize every day of the week for his professional work. I would counsel all students, if they can, to arrange their schedules so that they do not study on the Sabbath. If students and other seekers after truth will do this, their minds will be quickened and the infinite Spirit will lead them to the verities they wish to learn. This is because God has hallowed his day and blessed it as a perpetual covenant of faithfulness. (See Ex. 31:16.)” (“The Lord’s Day,” Ensign, Nov. 1991, 34).
It is important to remember that the Lord’s commandment to rest from temporal labors on the Sabbath is not an invitation for laziness. In Doctrine and Covenants 59:9–13, the Lord instructed the Saints on what they should do on the Sabbath day. President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) taught: “The Sabbath is a holy day in which to do worthy and holy things. Abstinence from work and recreation is important, but insufficient. The Sabbath calls for constructive thoughts and acts, and if one merely lounges about doing nothing on the Sabbath, he is breaking it” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball , 170).
To pay our devotions to the Most High God is to remember, worship, and serve the Lord with all our hearts. The devotions we render the Lord on His holy day reflect our affection and reverence for and faith in Him. President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:
“How do we hallow the Sabbath day? In my much younger years, I studied the work of others who had compiled lists of things to do and things not to do on the Sabbath. It wasn’t until later that I learned from the scriptures that my conduct and my attitude on the Sabbath constituted a sign between me and my Heavenly Father. With that understanding, I no longer needed lists of dos and don’ts. When I had to make a decision whether or not an activity was appropriate for the Sabbath, I simply asked myself, ‘What sign do I want to give to God?’ That question made my choices about the Sabbath day crystal clear. …
“How can you ensure that your behavior on the Sabbath will lead to joy and rejoicing? In addition to your going to church, partaking of the sacrament, and being diligent in your specific call to serve, what other activities would help to make the Sabbath a delight for you? What sign will you give to the Lord to show your love for Him?” (“The Sabbath Is a Delight,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 130).
The Sabbath is a day to be reflective and introspective and to acknowledge our sins before the Lord. Elder L. Tom Perry (1922–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:
“We acknowledge that all of us make mistakes. Each of us has a need to confess and forsake our sins and errors to our Heavenly Father and to others we may have offended. The Sabbath provides us with a precious opportunity to offer up these—our sacraments—to the Lord. …
“Elder Melvin J. Ballard has suggested, ‘We want every Latter-day Saint to come to the sacrament table because it is the place for self-investigation, for self-inspection, where we may learn to rectify our course and to make right our own lives, bringing ourselves into harmony with the teachings of the Church and with our brethren and sisters’ [in Bryant S. Hinckley, Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin Joseph Ballard (1949), 150]” (“The Sabbath and the Sacrament,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 8).
On the Sabbath day we are to dedicate our hearts completely to the Lord. The Lord commands that we should even prepare meals “with singleness of heart” (D&C 59:13), with our desires and thoughts focused on the things of God. As we devote ourselves wholly to the Lord, our fasting becomes perfect.
The Sabbath itself is a fast—a fast from temporal labors and worldly concerns. Just as we abstain from food and drink when fasting, we refrain from our own pleasures on the Sabbath day in order to worship and serve the Lord more fully. President Russell M. Nelson taught: “Not pursuing your ‘own pleasure’ [Isaiah 58:13] on the Sabbath requires self-discipline. You may have to deny yourself of something you might like. If you choose to delight yourself in the Lord, you will not permit yourself to treat it as any other day” (“The Sabbath Is a Delight,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 132).
The Lord promises the blessings of the earth to those who keep His Sabbath day holy, “and it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man” (D&C 59:20). However, we offend, or displease, God when we do not acknowledge His hand in all He has given us and express our gratitude to Him. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency explained the importance of recognizing the hand of the Lord in all things:
“Have we not reason to be filled with gratitude, regardless of the circumstances in which we find ourselves? …
“How blessed we are if we recognize God’s handiwork in the marvelous tapestry of life. Gratitude to our Father in Heaven broadens our perception and clears our vision. It inspires humility and fosters empathy toward our fellowmen and all of God’s creation. Gratitude is a catalyst to all Christlike attributes! A thankful heart is the parent of all virtues” (“Grateful in Any Circumstances,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 77).
The Lord promises “peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come” to those who bring forth works of righteousness (D&C 59:23). Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained the type of peace that comes from righteous obedience to the Lord’s commandments:
“We earnestly hope and pray for universal peace, but it is as individuals and families that we achieve the kind of peace that is the promised reward of righteousness. This peace is a promised gift of the Savior’s mission and atoning sacrifice. …
“The peace to which I am referring is not just a temporary tranquility. It is an abiding deep happiness and spiritual contentment.
“President Heber J. Grant described the Savior’s peace this way: ‘His peace will ease our suffering, bind up our broken hearts, blot out our hates, engender in our breasts a love of fellow men that will suffuse our souls with calm and happiness’ [Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant (2002), 226]” (“Personal Peace: The Reward of Righteousness,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 33).
During the first week of August 1831, the elders who traveled to Missouri attended a Church conference and participated in the dedication of the land of Zion and the site where the temple would be built. With their work completed, many of the elders wanted to return to Kirtland, Ohio (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 2: July 1831–January 1833, 35). The elders asked the Prophet Joseph Smith what they should do, and he received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 60.
The Lord chastened the elders who did not fulfill their responsibility to preach the gospel. Referencing His parable of the talents (see Matthew 25:14–30), the Lord said, “They hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of [their] fear of man” (D&C 60:2). In this revelation, “the talent” refers to a knowledge and testimony of the restored gospel. With these spiritual gifts comes the obligation to share one’s knowledge and testimony with others.
The Prophet Joseph Smith (1805–1844) taught that our “greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 330). President Dieter F. Uchtdorf explained ways we can fulfill this responsibility:
“My dear young friends, perhaps the Lord’s encouragement to ‘open [your] mouths’ [D&C 60:2] might today include ‘use your hands’ to blog and text message the gospel to all the world! But please remember, all at the right time and at the right place.
“… With the blessings of modern technology, we can express gratitude and joy about God’s great plan for His children in a way that can be heard not only around our workplace but around the world. Sometimes a single phrase of testimony can set events in motion that affect someone’s life for eternity.
“The most effective way to preach the gospel is through example. If we live according to our beliefs, people will notice. If the countenance of Jesus Christ shines in our lives, if we are joyful and at peace with the world, people will want to know why. One of the greatest sermons ever pronounced on missionary work is this simple thought attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi: ‘Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary, use words’ [in William Fay and Linda Evans Shepherd, Share Jesus without Fear (1999), 22]” (“Waiting on the Road to Damascus,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 76–77).
The phrase “congregations of the wicked” as used in Doctrine and Covenants 60:8 and other revelations (see also D&C 61:33; 62:5) does not necessarily mean that all people in these places were guilty of gross wickedness. Rather, the phrase likely refers to people who did not have a knowledge or understanding of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Without a knowledge of gospel principles and saving ordinances, they were living outside God’s covenant. For this reason the Lord called missionaries to preach the gospel to the congregations or communities of people and invite them to repent and receive the ordinances of salvation.
The Lord commanded the elders to preach the gospel as they traveled back to Ohio and warned them to not “idle away [their] time” (D&C 60:13). Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles illustrated some of the ways we idle away our time and the dangers of doing so:
“One of the ways Satan lessens your effectiveness and weakens your spiritual strength is by encouraging you to spend large blocks of your time doing things that matter very little. I speak of such things as sitting for hours on end watching television or videos, playing video games night in and night out, surfing the Internet, or devoting huge blocks of time to sports, games, or other recreational activities.
“Don’t misunderstand me. … Games, sports, recreational activities, and even television can be relaxing and rejuvenating, especially in times when you are under stress or heavily scheduled. You need activities that help you to unwind and rest your minds. …
“But I speak of letting things get out of balance. …
“One devastating effect of idling away our time is that it deflects us from focusing on the things that matter most. Too many people are willing to sit back and let life just happen to them. It takes time to develop the attributes that will help you to be a well-balanced person. …
“… So focus the best that you can on those things in life that will lead you back to the presence of God—keeping all things in their proper balance” (“Be Strong in the Lord,” Ensign, July 2004, 13–14).
On August 9, 1831, the Prophet Joseph Smith and 10 elders departed Independence, Missouri, in canoes heading down the Missouri River for St. Louis. The river was difficult to navigate due to the many fallen trees submerged in the river. During the first few days of traveling, there was some conflict that arose in the group, and feelings of discord were present for a time. On the third day of the journey, a submerged tree nearly capsized the canoe that Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were in. At the Prophet’s urging, the group camped on the banks of the Missouri River at a place called McIlwaine’s Bend. After leaving the river to make camp, William W. Phelps saw in broad daylight “the Destroyer, in his most horrible power, ride upon the face of the waters” (Manuscript History of the Church, vol. A-1, page 142, josephsmithpapers.org). That evening the group discussed their difficulties, resolved their contentious feelings, and forgave one another. The next morning the Prophet received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 61.
When the elders traveled “swiftly upon the waters” of the Missouri River, they weren’t able to preach the gospel to the people living on both sides of the river who were “perishing in unbelief” (D&C 61:3). Similarly, at times we might neglect the needs of those around us because we are so busy “moving swiftly” along in our lives. President Thomas S. Monson taught:
“How many times has your heart been touched as you have witnessed the need of another? How often have you intended to be the one to help? And yet how often has day-to-day living interfered and you’ve left it for others to help, feeling that ‘oh, surely someone will take care of that need.’
“We become so caught up in the busyness of our lives. Were we to step back, however, and take a good look at what we’re doing, we may find that we have immersed ourselves in the ‘thick of thin things.’ In other words, too often we spend most of our time taking care of the things which do not really matter much at all in the grand scheme of things, neglecting those more important causes” (“What Have I Done for Someone Today?” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2009, 85).
The Lord’s words in Doctrine and Covenants 61:4–19 do not prohibit Latter-day Saints from traveling on or swimming in water. In describing the curse on the waters in the last days, the Lord may have been referring to passages in the book of Revelation in which the Apostle John described destruction that will occur in the waters before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (see Revelation 8:8–11; 16:2–6). In Doctrine and Covenants 61, the Lord refers specifically to the danger of “these waters,” meaning the Missouri River (see D&C 61:5, 18). At the time of this revelation, the dangers of the Missouri River included accidents due to difficulties in navigating the waters and contracting cholera, a disease most commonly spread by contaminated water (see “The Way of Journeying for the Saints of Christ,” Evening and Morning Star, Dec. 1832, 105).
On August 13, 1831, the Prophet Joseph Smith and the elders traveling with him to Kirtland, Ohio, met Hyrum Smith, John Murdock, Harvey Whitlock, and David Whitmer at Chariton, Missouri. These elders had not yet reached Independence, Missouri, partly because they had been preaching the gospel along the way and partly because John Murdock’s illness delayed travel. Joseph Smith later recounted that “after the joyful salutations with which brethren meet each other” he received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 62 (in Manuscript History of the Church, vol. A-1, page 145, josephsmithpapers.org).
The Lord commended the elders who had not yet gone to Zion for the faithful testimonies they had shared during their traveling. Unlike some of the elders traveling with the Prophet Joseph Smith, whom the Lord chastened for not preaching the gospel (see D&C 60:2–3), this group of missionaries diligently and successfully proclaimed the gospel and built up the Church as they journeyed to Zion. Included among these faithful missionaries were Levi Hancock, Zebedee Coltrin, Simeon Carter, and Solomon Hancock. They baptized more than one hundred individuals along the way (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 2: July 1831–January 1833, ed. Matthew C. Godfrey and others , 46). The Lord blessed the faithfulness of these missionaries, saying their testimonies were “recorded in heaven for the angels to look upon” (D&C 62:3). Furthermore, the Lord declared that the sins of these missionaries were forgiven.
Though forgiveness comes through the Atonement of Jesus Christ as we repent and live according to His commandments, proclaiming the gospel and helping others come to the Savior can help us receive a remission of our sins. President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) taught: “The Lord has told us that our sins will be forgiven more readily as we bring souls unto Christ and remain steadfast in bearing testimony to the world, and surely every one of us is looking for additional help in being forgiven of our sins” (“It Becometh Every Man,” Ensign, Oct. 1977, 5).
On a number of occasions various groups of elders had inquired as to how they should travel, what route to take, what mode of travel to use, or whether to travel all together or two by two. In each of these instances the Savior declared, “It mattereth not unto me” (D&C 60:5; 61:22; 62:5).
Concerning this response, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:
“The Lord’s statement that such things ‘mattereth not unto me’ initially may seem surprising. Clearly, the Savior was not saying to these missionaries that He did not care about what they were doing. Rather, He was emphasizing the importance of putting first things first and focusing upon the right things. … They were to exercise faith, use good judgment, act in accordance with the direction of the Spirit, and determine the best way to travel to their assignments. The essential thing was the work they had been called to perform; how they got there was important but was not essential. …
“The most demanding judgments we ever make are seldom between good or bad or between attractive and unattractive alternatives. Usually, our toughest choices are between good and good. In this scriptural episode [referring to D&C 62:7–9], horses, mules, and chariots may have been equally effective options for missionary travel. In a similar way, you and I also might identify at various times in our lives more than one acceptable opportunity or option that we could choose to pursue. We should remember this pattern from the scriptures as we approach such important decisions. If we put essential things first in our lives—things such as dedicated discipleship, honoring covenants, and keeping the commandments—then we will be blessed with inspiration and strong judgment as we pursue the path that leads us back to our heavenly home” (“A Reservoir of Living Water,” [Brigham Young University fireside, Feb. 4, 2007], 5–6, speeches.byu.edu).
Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained why our Heavenly Father leaves many decisions to our own judgment:
“A desire to be led by the Lord is a strength, but it needs to be accompanied by an understanding that our Heavenly Father leaves many decisions for our personal choices. Personal decision making is one of the sources of the growth we are meant to experience in mortality. …
“We should study things out in our minds, using the reasoning powers our Creator has placed within us. Then we should pray for guidance and act upon it if we receive it. If we do not receive guidance, we should act upon our best judgment” (“Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall,” Ensign, Oct. 1994, 13–14).