Sunday, October 16, 2011

the divine law of economy

God sends his children into a world that will provide for their needs:
D&C 104:17 For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.

It is the work that we were "cursed" to do that allows us to access these resources:
Gen. 3:19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

And yet, we seem to take this injunction to work to feed ourselves too far when God himself has promised to feed us:
Matt. 6:26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
This is because we do not seems to understand the Lord's divine law of economy, which provides sufficiently for the wants of his creation, but no excess. This is abundantly visible in the natural world, where "waste" of one creature becomes the food of another - nothing is ever actually wasted - and an animal or plant only takes what it needs.

Of course mankind has always struggled following this principle. The "curse" of industry is one that many stumble on because we devote so much time and energy to acquiring excess, rather than focusing on and learning from the examples all around of divine thrift.

I ought to spend more time studying/discussing this, but what I want to actually get into right now is a little bit of a twist on this basic idea of economy because like all of God's laws, it has it's temporal application AND a spiritual one, and the spiritual application leads into further clarification of grace and works!

In The Infinite Atonement Tad Callister gives the example In John 11 where the Savior has come to the grave of Lazarus, who has been dead for 4 days, and instructs those with him to move away the stone closing up the grave. He calls out "Lazarus, come forth" (John 11:43) and "he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin" (John 11:44). Callister states that upon reading this we might ask, "why didn't Jesus remove the stone with a show of power? Why didn't Jesus unwrap the revived corpse?" This is where the "divine law of economy" comes in, "namely, that we must do all we can, and when we have reached out limits, when we have asserted all our mental moral and spiritual energies, then the powers of heaven will intervene. Man could remove the stone and unwrap the corpse, so he must do it, but only the power of God could call the dead to life" (265).

It is the same idea, that God extends his power only as necessary, never in excess.

And it is part of how we become involved in the learning process necessary to become like him. When my mom taught me how to make cookies, she left as many steps as possible for ME to do - because that is the best way for me to learn - yet even though I may have "made" the cookies, they aren't really mine since the ingredients we used were hers, the steps we followed came from her knowledge and experience, and I never could have done it without her. But, in letting me do all I COULD do (the steps for mixing, etc.) she put me into the process of becoming like her.

Which does a lot to explain 2 Nephi 25:23 "We know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do." It isn't our "doing" that saves us, but it IS what God steps back and allows us to participate in, in order to enable us to learn -- following the law of economy to provide sufficiently for us but NOT IN EXCESS. This illustrates "that God will use his heavenly powers to exalt us, but only if we have done all within our power to accomplish that end" (Callister 264). Not because what WE do has ANY POWER AT ALL to exalt, but because as we do what we can, enabled by the grace and power of Christ, we little by little - grace for grace - are moved "from a small capacity to a great one" (Callister 267).

No comments:

Post a Comment