Monday, June 11, 2012
I wrote this in response to a specific question, in which the person sought advice on how to know when (and whether it is appropriate) to make your own decisions out of your own knowledge without asking God for specific instructions or permission every single time. They made the point that not only do we have the right to make our own decisions, but that God insists on it. They also wanted to know what to do when the answer to your prayer is "I trust you. You decide."
I approached my response with these two seemingly contradictory passages of scripture in mind:
Psalms 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
D&C 58:26-28 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward. Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.
Here is my response(with slight editing for clarity's sake):
A: This is a principle that requires a degree of spiritual maturity to truly master. I think that the Lord expects each of us to "do many things of [our] own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness" because he knows that it is important for our personal and spiritual growth that we learn to act as "agents unto ourselves". Indeed, in many cases God may leave each of us to follow our own natural inclination, but our natural inclination is not (at least initially) always to seek the right thing, or the things of God, and so this necessitates that we first experience a profound change of heart. It becomes our responsibility to change our nature (through Christ) in order to correctly apply this principle, because only as a true disciple of Christ can we gain enough knowledge through the practice of faithful and persistent obedience to recognize and act upon the right choice without needing to be told. As we gain this knowledge we will be better equipped to recognize when our natural inclinations are in line with God's own will (and what is right) and when they are not.