Material belongings, relative wealth or poverty, physical environment--the things on which we are prone to set our hearts and anchor our aspirations, the things for which we sweat and strive, ofttimes at the sacrifice of happiness and to the forfeiture of real success--these after all are but externals, the worth of which in the reckoning to come shall be counted in terms of the use we have made of them.”
A few weeks ago on a day when this area was experiencing one of its worst snowstorms, and that is saying quite a bit because we had plenty of severe weather this past winter, a handsome young serviceman and his beautiful bride-to-be encountered extreme difficulty in getting to the Salt Lake Temple for their marriage appointment. She was in one location in the Salt Lake Valley and he was to come from another nearby town. Heavy snows and winds had closed the highways during the night and early morning hours. After many hours of anxious waiting, some of us were able to help them get to the temple and complete their marriage plans before the day was over.
How grateful they, their families, and friends were for the assistance and concern in their keeping this most important appointment. My friend--we will call him Bill--expressed his deep gratitude with, “Thank you very much for all you did to make our wedding possible. I don’t understand why you went to all this trouble to help me. Really, I’m nobody.”
I am sure Bill meant his comment to be a most sincere compliment, but I responded to it firmly, but I hope kindly, with, “Bill, I have never helped a ‘nobody’ in my life. In the kingdom of our Heavenly Father no man is a ‘nobody.’”
This tendency to wrongfully identify ourselves was again brought to my attention the other day during an interview with a troubled wife. Her marriage is in great difficulty. She has tried earnestly to correct the communication blocks with her husband but with little success. She is grateful for the time her bishop has spent in counseling. Her stake president has also been most patient and understanding in his willingness to try and help.
All of her problems are not resolved, but she is making progress. Her many contacts with properly channeled priesthood direction have left her not only grateful, but somewhat amazed. Her concluding observation the other day was, “I just don’t understand all of you people giving so much time and showing so much concern. After all, I’m really ‘nobody.’”
I am certain our Heavenly Father is displeased when we refer to ourselves as “nobody.” How fair are we when we classify ourselves a “nobody”? How fair are we to our families? How fair are we to our God?
We do ourselves a great injustice when we allow ourselves, through tragedy, misfortune, challenge, discouragement, or whatever the earthly situation, to so identify ourselves. No matter how or where we find ourselves, we cannot with any justification label ourselves “nobody.”
“Once upon a time, there was a little red schoolhouse with one big room for 27 children. The teacher sat with an American flag on one side of her and a blackboard on the other. The children sat in rows facing her, the littlest ones in front. The youngest was seven, and she was very little. The biggest was 16, and he was six feet tall. The youngest was smart, and she could read with the other children. The biggest was dumb, but he was strong and could help the teacher carry in wood. In bad weather, he carried the littlest girl across the puddle in front of the schoolhouse. And sometimes she helped him with his reading.
“Then one day the state built a big highway, right past the schoolhouse door. And the State Education Department came by and said, ‘Great things are happening in education. There are special teachers for arithmetic, reading, art and music. If you combine with other schoolhouses, you could have a great big school where your children could have all the advantages. And big yellow buses could carry your children over the new highway right up to the school door.’ So the parents voted to consolidate, and the little red schoolhouse was abandoned.
“At first things went well in the big school. But after a while, the State Education Department said that it wasn’t providing the children with enough meaningful experiences. And some parents complained that the children were not learning to read and write and figure as well as they had in the little red schoolhouse. ‘We will try some new things,’ said the educators. So they tried the ungraded primer, where fast readers were not slowed down by slow readers, and where children who had trouble with numbers did not get moved on to the next grade before they could add 3 and 5. This helped, but not enough.
“‘We will try something more,’ the educators said. ‘We will tear down some walls at the new school, so the children will be working together in one big room. That way, there will be less peer-group competition.’
“Finally, an important educator came along, looked at the school and said, ‘This is good, but it is not good enough. It is too big, and the children are losing their identity. There are not enough interpersonal relationships in the infrastructure. What we really need is a one-room schoolhouse. And since red is a cheerful color, I think we ought to paint it red.’” (From Mt. Kisco, N.Y., Patent Trader, in Reader’s Digest, March 1973, p. 68. Used by permission.)
The educator in this story did not mean that the consolidated school, the special teachers, or the ungraded primer were not advantages. The point of the story is that along with the wonderful new discoveries in education, the emphasis must still be placed upon the individual and upon his needs and relationships with others.
One of my responsibilities as a coordinator was to secure property, eventually erect an institute building, and then provide a religious program for our college youth. We had secured a wonderful institute site adjacent to the Los Angeles State College. Shortly after the transaction was consummated, the State of California indicated to me that they wanted to take the property by right of eminent domain, which was their prerogative. I checked with my superiors and they said, “Look into the legal side and see if we still don’t have a chance.” I did. We went into court for a hearing. The judge was impressed with the program of the Church and what we do for youth and people. We were sent back to do some additional homework and gather added information.
The day came for the final hearing, and I had about eight hours of work to do in four when at that very moment about ten o’clock one morning a knock came at the door, and because of my frustration I almost said (but I didn’t), “COME IN!” Instead I said, “Come in.” And in the framework of that door stood a 19-year-old USC freshman student who had refused our offers to come and join our group on four previous occasions. His head bowed, hands in his pockets, he said, “Brother Dunn, I have got to see you, now.” And I almost said (but I didn’t), “Can’t you see I am busy?” Because I was. Fortunately I had the presence of mind to invite him in; and as he took a chair, several questions went through my mind.
Question number 1, “What are you going to court for this morning, Paul?” “Well, to try to save a piece of property.” “What do you want the piece of property for, Paul?” “Well, to erect a building.” “Well, what do you want a building for?” “Well, to teach some students.” “What just knocked on your door?” “Oh, a student.” And wouldn’t you know, he took the whole four hours.
The time came for legal counsel to arrive, and we went to court. I don’t know all of the ramifications. We lost the hearing and eventually the piece of property, and it took us two years to secure another site. You would be happy with what the Church has done at Los Angeles State College, but more important, we saved the boy. Had it been your son, I think you would agree that we made the right decision.
God grant us the vision as leaders, teachers, and parents to put people first. Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God. I add my personal witness. God lives. Jesus is the Christ. This is his church. This is his prophet. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
“ ’Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin,
But held it up with a smile:
‘What am I bidden, good folks,’ he cried,
‘Who’ll start the bidding for me?’
‘A dollar, a dollar’; then, ‘Two!’ ‘Only two?
Two dollars, and who’ll make it three?
Three dollars, once; three dollars, twice;
Going for three--’ But no,
From the room, far back, a gray-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow;
Then, wiping the dust from the old violin,
And tightening the loose strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet
As sweet as a caroling angel sings.
“The music ceased, and the auctioneer,
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said, ‘What am I bid for the old violin?’
And he held it up with the bow.
‘A thousand dollars, and who’ll make it two?
Two thousand! And who’ll make it three?
Three thousand, once, three thousand, twice,
And going, and gone!’ said he.
The people cheered, but some of them cried,
‘We do not quite understand
What changed its worth.’ Swift came the reply:
‘The touch of a master’s hand.’
“And many a man with life out of tune,
And battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd,
Much like the old violin.
A ‘mess of pottage,’ a glass of wine;
A game--and he travels on.
He’s ‘going’ once, and ‘going’ twice,
He’s ‘going’ and almost ‘gone.’
But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul and the change that’s wrought
By the touch of the Master’s hand.”
“But ‘as for me and my house,’ the welfare program began in the Old Field west of Lehi on the Saratoga Road in the autumn of 1918, that terribly climactic year of World War I during which more than 14 million people died of that awful scourge ‘the black plague,’ or Spanish influenza.
“Winter came early that year and froze much of the sugar beet crop in the ground. My dad and brother Francis were desperately trying to get out of the frosty ground one load of beets each day which they would plow out of the ground, cut off the tops, and toss the beets, one at a time, into the huge red beet wagon and then haul the load off to the sugar factory. It was slow and tedious work due to the frost and the lack of farm help, since my brother Floyd and I were in the army and Francis, or Franz, as everybody called him, was too young for the military service.
“While they were thusly engaged in harvesting the family’s only cash crop and were having their evening meal one day, a phone call came through from our eldest brother, George Albert, superintendent of the State Industrial School in Ogden, bearing the tragic news that Kenneth, nine-year-old son of our brother Charles, the school farm manager, had been stricken with the dread ‘flu,’ and after only a few hours of violent sickness, had died on his father’s lap; and would dad please come to Ogden and bring the boy home and lay him away in the family plot in the Lehi Cemetery.
“My father cranked up his old flap-curtained Chevrolet and headed for Five Points in Ogden to bring his little grandson home for burial. When he arrived at the home he found ‘Charl’ sprawled across the cold form of his dear one, the ugly brown discharge of the black plague oozing from his ears and nose and virtually burning up with fever.
“‘Take my boy home,’ muttered the stricken young father, ‘and lay him away in the family lot and come back for me tomorrow.’
“Father brought Kenneth home, made a coffin in his carpenter shop, and mother and our sisters, Jennie, Emma, and Hazel, placed a cushion and a lining in it, and then dad went with Franz and two kind neighbors to dig the grave. So many were dying the families had to do the grave digging. A brief graveside service was all that was permitted.
“The folks had scarcely returned from the cemetery when the telephone rang again and George Albert (Bert) was on the line with another terrifying message: Charl had died and two of his beautiful little girls--Vesta, 7, and Elaine, 5--were critically ill, and two babies--Raeldon, 4, and Pauline, 3--had been stricken.
“Our good cousins, the Larkin undertaking people, were able to get a casket for Charl and they sent him home in a railroad baggage car. Father and young Franz brought the body from the railroad station and placed it on the front porch of our old country home for an impromptu neighborhood viewing but folks were afraid to come near the body of a black plague victim. Father and Francis meanwhile had gone with neighbors to get the grave ready and arrange a short service in which the great, noble spirit of Charles Hyrum Goates was commended into the keeping of his Maker.
“Next day my sturdy, unconquerable old dad was called on still another of his grim missions--this time to bring home Vesta, the smiling one with the raven hair and big blue eyes.
“When he arrived at the home he found Juliett, the grief-crazed mother, kneeling at the crib of darling little Elaine, the blue-eyed baby angel with the golden curls. Juliett was sobbing wearily and praying: ‘Oh, Father in heaven, not this one, please! Let me keep my baby! Do not take any more of my darlings from me!’
“Before father arrived home with Vesta the dread word had come again. Elaine had gone to join her daddy, brother Kenneth, and Sister Vesta. And so it was that father made another heartbreaking journey to bring home and lay away a fourth member of his family, all within the week.
“The telephone did not ring the evening of the day they laid away Elaine nor were there any more sad tidings of death the next morning. It was assumed that George A. and his courageous companion Della, although afflicted, had been able to save the little ones Raeldon and Pauline; and it was such a relief that Cousin Reba Munns, a nurse, had been able to come in and help.
“After breakfast dad said to Franz, ‘Well, son, we had better get down to the field and see if we can get another load of beets out of the ground before they get frozen in any tighter. Hitch up and let’s be on our way.’
“Francis drove the four-horse outfit down the driveway and dad climbed aboard. As they drove along the Saratoga Road, they passed wagon after wagon-load of beets being hauled to the factory and driven by neighborhood farmers. As they passed by, each driver would wave a greeting: ‘Hi ya, Uncle George,’ ‘Sure sorry, George,’ ‘Tough break, George,’ ‘You’ve got a lot of friends, George.’
“On the last wagon was the town comedian, freckled-faced Jasper Rolfe. He waved a cheery greeting and called out: ‘That’s all of ‘em, Uncle George.
“My dad turned to Francis and said: ‘I wish it was all of ours.’
“When they arrived at the farm gate, Francis jumped down off the big red beet wagon and opened the gate as we drove onto the field. He pulled up, stopped the team, paused a moment and scanned the field, from left to right and back and forth--and lo and behold, there wasn’t a sugar beet on the whole field. Then it dawned upon him what Jasper Rolfe meant when he called out: ‘That’s all of ‘em, Uncle George!’
“Then dad got down off the wagon, picked up a handful of the rich, brown soil he loved so much, and then in his thumbless left hand a beet top, and he looked for a moment at these symbols of his labor, as if he couldn’t believe his eyes.
“Then father sat down on a pile of beet tops--this man who brought four of his loved ones home for burial in the course of only six days; made caskets, dug graves, and even helped with the burial clothing--this amazing man who never faltered, nor finched, nor wavered throughout this agonizing ordeal--sat down on a pile of beet tops and sobbed like a little child.
“Then he arose, wiped his eyes with his big, red bandanna handkerchief, looked up at the sky, and said: ‘Thanks, Father, for the elders of our ward.’”
Isn’t that what the Lord would want us to do if he were here to show us the way, for didn’t he entreat us by saying:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28–30.)
Who received the greater blessing? Was it the elders who went out into the field and harvested Brother Goates’ load of beets? I want you to know they received a great blessing.
And now in conclusion, you remember the words of Paul. He said: “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (1 Cor. 13:13.)
And I pray that the charity of Jesus Christ will be with and abide with each one of us, that we will understand the total dimension of welfare services in the Church, in the name of Jesus Christ, our Master. Amen.
Self-discipline is essential in helping us make proper choices. It is much easier to drift than to row, to slide downhill than to climb up. Satan is constantly at work to drag us down by placing temptations in our way in the form of alcohol, tobacco, drugs, pornography, deceit, dishonesty, and flattery, always waiting to catch us in our misdeeds.
Can we not appreciate that our very business in life is not to get ahead of others, but to get ahead of ourselves? To break our own records, to outstrip our yesterdays by our todays, to bear our trials more beautifully than we ever dreamed we could, to give as we have never given, to do our work with more force and a finer finish than ever--this is the true idea: to get ahead of ourselves.
While I was on my first mission in Holland, I was invited to speak to a Bible class of businessmen in The Hague. They met every week, holding a Bible class. We met in the home of a prominent furniture dealer; the only woman there was the daughter of the man of the house.
They invited me to speak for an hour and a half and explain our doctrine of universal salvation, which includes the work for the dead. I gave them chapter and verse and let them read these passages from their own Bibles so they would believe more completely, as they seemed to think we have a different Bible. Then I closed my Bible and laid it on the table, folded my arms, and waited for their comments.
The first comment came from the daughter of the man of the house. She said, “Father, I just can’t understand it. I have never attended one of these Bible classes in my life that you haven’t had the last word to say on everything, and tonight you haven’t said a word.”
The father shook his head and said, “My daughter, there isn’t anything to say.” He said, “This man has been teaching us things we have never heard of, and has been teaching them to us out of our own Bibles.”
Some of these ministers wanted to get away on earlier planes up to the Northwest, so they set the luncheon back a half an hour, and they gave me two and a half hours in that morning meeting. I explained the restoration of the gospel, the difference between a restoration and a reformation, and at the conclusion of my talk I only got one question out of all these ministers and church leaders.
The man in charge said, “Mr. Richards, you have told us that you believe that God is a personal God.”
I said, “That is right.”
He said, “We have heard it said that you believe that God has a wife. Would you explain that to us?”
I think he thought he had me in trouble, and so rather facetiously I said, “I don’t see how in the world he could have a son without a wife, do you?”
And they all began to titter. I didn’t have any more trouble with that question.
At the close of my remarks, I told them that while I was the Presiding Bishop of the Church, we had charge of the building program. We had the plans prepared for the Los Angeles Temple. One day we took them and showed them to the First Presidency, but we didn’t have the electrical or plumbing plans completed. We had 84 pages about 4 feet long and 2 1/2 feet wide, and I imagine you have all seen blueprints. I said, “Now you could take those blueprints and try to fit them to every building in this world, but there is only one building they will fit, and that is the Mormon temple down in Los Angeles.” Then I said, “Of course you can find buildings that have material in them such as cement, lumber, electrical wiring, plumbing, and so forth, but you can’t find any building that they will fit.”
Then I held up the Bible. I said, “Here is the Lord’s blueprint. Isaiah said the Lord had declared the end from the beginning. It is all here. Now,” I said, “you could take this, the Lord’s blueprint, and try to fit it to every church in this world, but there is only one church that it will fit, and that is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Now,” I said, “I will proceed to illustrate to you what I mean.
I said that in Canon Frederick William Farrar’s work Life of Christ (Cassell, 1902), he said there were two passages in the New Testament for which he could find no excuse. The first is John 10:16, where Jesus said, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”
I said, “Do any of you men know why that is in the Bible? Do any of you know any church in the world that does know why it is in the Bible? Well, we know all about it.” And then I explained the promise to Joseph of a new land in the utmost bounds of the everlasting hills, and in describing that land, Moses uses the word precious five times in just a few verses. (See Deut. 33:13–16.)
I said, “Do any of you know where that land of Joseph is?” Then I explained that it was the land of America, and that Jesus visited his people here in America, and he told them that they were the other sheep of whom he spoke to his disciples. (See 2 Ne. 15:21.) He said that not at any time did the Father command him to tell his disciples who the other sheep were, only that he had other sheep. (See 3 Ne. 15:15–17.)
The other passage they couldn’t understand was the one where Paul said, “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” (1 Cor. 15:29.) I said, “Do any of you know why that is in the Bible? Do any of you know any church in the world that does know why it is in the Bible?” Then I explained this doctrine to them.
I quoted to them the words of Peter following the day of Pentecost, when he said to those who had put to death the Christ, “And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:20–21.)
That is not a reformation; that is a restitution. I said, “That is what I have been telling you here for two hours and a half, and you can’t look for the coming of the Savior as was promised by Peter and the prophets until there has been a restitution, and not a reformation.”
When I concluded, the man in charge said, “Mr. Richards, this has been one of the most interesting experiences of my entire life.” That is what Isaiah meant when he said, “… the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.” (Isa. 29: 14.)
I bear you my witness that there isn’t a man or a woman in this world who really loves the Lord with all their heart who wouldn’t join this church if they would just take time to find out what it is, for I know that it is God’s eternal truth. He has sent his messenger to prepare the way for his coming. I pray God to bless us and help us all to be missionaries. I leave you my blessing in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
I wish every adult leader in the Church could have been in attendance to share the spirit of that testimony meeting. With deep emotion, one lovely girl spoke of her reaction when it was discovered that her father had cancer. How she prayed and prayed that he be healed, then came to the realization that her prayers were selfish--that our loving Father in heaven was in control and that she should submit to his will. She evidenced a very mature outlook on life, something that some of us as adults never experience in a lifetime of living.
Another is that we search and ponder the words of eternal life. And a third is that we pray. Over and over again the scriptures teach that men receive from the Lord according to their desires. Alma declared:
“… I know that [God] granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life; yea, I know that he allotteth unto men according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction.” (Alma 29:4.
Jesus acted on this principle. In John’s parchment record, he wrote:
“… the Lord said unto me: John, my beloved, what desirest thou? ...
“And I said unto him: Lord, give unto me power over death, that I may live and bring souls unto thee.
“And the Lord said unto me: Verily, verily, I say unto thee, because thou desirest this thou shalt tarry until I come in my glory, and shalt prophesy before nations, kindreds, tongues and people.” (D&C 7:1–3.)
At the opening of this last dispensation, the Lord said to the Prophet’s father: “… if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work.” (D&C 4:3.)
And two months later he said to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery: “… as you desire of me so it shall be unto you. …” (D&C 6:8.)
The importance of desire is dramatically pointed up in this quotation from the 18th section of the Doctrine and Covenants:
“And now, behold, there are others who are called to declare my gospel, both unto Gentile and unto Jew;
“Yea, even twelve; and the Twelve shall be my disciples, and they shall take upon them my name; and the Twelve are they who shall desire to take upon them my name with full purpose of heart.
“And if they desire to take upon them my name with full purpose of heart, they are called. …
“And now, behold, I give unto you, Oliver Cowdery, and also unto David Whitmer, that you shall search out the Twelve, who shall have the desires of which I have spoken;
“And by their desires and their works you shall know them.” (D&C 18:26–28, 37–38. Italics added.)
The third finger is the big finger. This is the power finger. It has the best location on the hand. The third law of success says that you must WANT to succeed--in capital letters. If I want to succeed in letters an inch high, I will fail. But if I want to succeed in letters a yard high, then I will succeed.
The Lord said, “… if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work.” (D&C 4:3.) If we don’t WANT to do it we can’t do it. Alma said that God grants unto every man according to his desires. (See Alma 29:4.) And we ought to spend a lot more time than we ordinarily do in increasing the volume and intensity of our righteous desires.
A young man once came to Socrates and said, “Mr. Socrates, I have come sixteen hundred miles to talk to you about wisdom and learning.” He said, “You are a man of wisdom and learning and I would like to be a man of wisdom and learning. Would you teach me how to be a man of wisdom and learning?”
Socrates said, “Come, follow me.” And he led the way down to the seashore.
Then they waded out into the water up to their waists. Then Socrates seized his friend and held his head under the water. His friend struggled and kicked and bucked and tried to get away but Socrates held him down. Now if you hold somebody’s head under the water long enough he will eventually become fairly peaceable, and when this man had quit kicking, Socrates carried him out on the bank and laid him out to dry, and he went back to the marketplace.
After this man had thawed out a little bit he came back to Socrates to find the reason for this rather unusual behavior, and Socrates said to him, “When your head was under the water, what was the one thing you wanted more than anything else?”
And he said, “More than anything else I wanted air.”
Then Socrates said, “When you want wisdom and learning like you wanted air, you won’t need to ask anybody to give it to you.”
When we really WANT to be disciples of Christ, in capital letters, when we really WANT to be servants of the Master, then everything else will be easy. Someone once said to Mozart, “Would you teach me how to write symphonies?” Mozart said, “You are too young to write symphonies.” The young man said, “But you were fifteen years younger than I am when you began writing symphonies.” Mozart said, “But I didn’t have to ask anybody to teach me.” Only when we get some of these great qualities inside of ourselves are we in a position to make progress.
Shakespeare said, “No profit comes where there is no pleasure taken.” You can’t do very well that which you don’t enjoy doing. If we don’t get great pleasure out of our families, we should repent, because we are doing something wrong. If the work of the Lord seems burdensome and makes us weary, or if we don’t get exhilaration and uplift out of that part of the work of the world that life has given us to do, then we should repent. We need some more powerful satisfactions from life.
Perhaps because our 12-year-old son was with us, Sister Lake told us of another 12-year-old with whom she became acquainted in a rehabilitation center in New York where she was working. The boy had been blind and for most of his 12 years had lived a sad existence, thought to be uneducable, incapable of learning. Then he was given a chance, thank the Lord, and a marvelous spirit and fine mind were discovered. He told his friend that he had thought all his life that being blind was the worst thing that could happen to one--until he met Campy. Campy was Roy Campanella, great athlete, who at the height of his career was rendered physically helpless in an automobile accident. The blind boy said he had decided after meeting Campy that his condition was worse than not being able to see. “But there is something even worse than that,” he said. He talked of feeling his way down the hall at the hospital, hearing the scuff of feet as people passed him by. “There is something worse than being blind or crippled, and that is to have people not understand you,” he said. “I guess they think that because I am blind I can’t hear or speak either.”
There is one who always understands, and those who seek to become the manner of person he is must seek to understand. We are never really alone when we love God and accept the friendship of his loving Son. I think of the mother of 14 children who was asked if she had a favorite. “Well,” she said, “if I do, it’s the one who is ill until she gets well, or the one who is away until he gets home.” So it seems to be with the Lord.
Recently my secretary put on my desk an article which reported an experiment carried on by the National Institute of Mental Health. “A tiny Eden for mice” was built. In it was placed everything that could be included “in a mouse’s dream of paradise. Food, housing supplies--everything was there in abundance.” In it were placed four pair of mice. There was room for “4,000 mice. Every 55 days the population doubled. But when there were a little over 600 mice things began happening. Not only did the population fall off; but big problems arose in the mouse society. … the mice were becoming lazy. Many appeared greatly distressed, some utterly frustrated. Their behavior became quite unpredictable. The making of nests dropped off. Some of the mice began to eat each other!
“The planned mouse population never did climb to 4,000. They had reached slightly more than half that figure when reproduction came to a complete halt. The mouse society turned into an emotional mob!
“The population in mouse-Eden has now dropped to a little more than 600. No new baby mice are being born. The mouse society is doomed. And not a mouse shows any interest in saving his dying paradise.” (Lon Woodrum, Applied Christianity, Sept. 1973, pp. 28–30.)
Idleness is just as devastating to men as it is to mice.
“Give [men] everything they ask for while making no demands on their own efforts, and they will deteriorate into an unfit mob.” (Ibid.)
I said, “Brother, this Church demands nothing of you. It just offers you a better way of life.” He said, “But it is awfully hard.” I said, “Let’s see if it is. Let’s go and get a cigar and have a good smoke. Let’s go and hold up a bank and see what happens. Let us go and join a group tonight as they go out on a big drunk.” He said, “President Tanner, don’t be ridiculous.” I said, “All right, I won’t if you won’t.” Then I said, “Just name one commandment that you think you shouldn’t keep, or you would advise your son not to keep.” He could not.
When I was presiding over the Edmonton Branch a man came to me and said, “I can’t pay a full tithing this year. I have had to do some building, some remodeling, and so on.” I told him that the Lord had said that he would pour out blessings that we would hardly be able to contain. He said, “I still can’t do it.” Right after the first of the year that man spent several days in the hospital with a high doctor bill, and he paid it. I am not suggesting that he was there because he didn’t pay a full tithing, but I am suggesting that the evidence is there that he could have paid a full tithing.
How would you like the Lord to figure out his blessings on the same basis that you do when you are figuring out your tithing? If you were in deep trouble, had physical or mental illness, or your family were suffering and causing you much concern, would you want him to say, “Well now, just how much can I keep from giving him? How close can I figure this blessing?”
President Joseph F. Smith said, “The house of the Lord is a house of order and not a house of confusion; and that means,” as the Lord has said, “that the man is not without the woman in the Lord, neither is the woman without the man in the Lord; and that no man can be saved and exalted in the kingdom of God without the woman, and no woman can reach perfection and exaltation in the kingdom of God, alone. That is what it means. God instituted marriage in the beginning.” (Conference Report, April 1913, p. 118.)
Now don’t misunderstand me. I am not trying to urge you younger men to marry too early. I think therein is one of the hazards of today’s living. We don’t want a young man to think of marriage until he is able to take care of a family, to have an institution of his own, to be independent. He must make sure that he has found the girl of his choice, they have gone together long enough that they know each other, and that they know each other’s faults and they still love each other. I have said to the mission presidents (some of whom have been reported to us as saying to missionaries, “Now, if you are not married in six months, you are a failure as a missionary”), “Don’t you ever say that to one of your missionaries. Maybe in six months they will not have found a wife; and if they take you seriously, they may rush into a marriage that will be wrong for them.”