Lessons on Freedom and Patriotism
Lesson No. Twenty-One
Freedom and the Celestial Nature of Self-Reliance
The Book of Mormon teaches self-reliance – The Nephites had become dependent and expected the king (government) to solve their problems and do for them what they should be doing for themselves. King Mosiah “told them that these things ought not to be; but that the burden (responsibility) should come upon all the people, that every man might bear his part.” He then proposed a new system that would make them self-reliant, equal, and free.
When the people understood this doctrine they “were convinced of the truth of his words. Therefore they relinquished their desires for a king, and became exceedingly anxious that every man should have an equal chance throughout all the land (to become self-reliant); yea, and every man expressed a willingness to answer for his own sins (to become accountable). The people “were exceedingly rejoiced because of the liberty which had been granted unto them. And they did wax strong in love towards Mosiah” because “he had granted…that they should be delivered from all manner of bondage; therefore they did esteem him…exceedingly, beyond measure” (Mosiah 29:30-40).
Love and esteem is the result of making people self-reliant. This is an important lesson for parents, members of the Church, politicians, and people everywhere.
Self-reliance in the home and Church - "All of our Church and family actions should be directed toward making our children and members self-reliant. We can’t always control government programs, but we can control our own homes and congregations. If we will teach these principles and live them, we can do much to counter the negative effects which may exist in government programs in any country” (Marion Romney, The Celestial Nature of Self-Reliance, Ensign, March 2009).
Parents have the responsibility to practice and teach their children self-reliance. We are very blessed that our children and their companions are frugal and self-reliant, and they are teaching these virtues to their children. This will bless many succeeding generations.
Testimony of the spiritual goal of self-reliance – I conclude with my testimony, given in the words of President Romney. I do this because I know by the Spirit that it is true:
"Now, I wish to speak of a very important truth: self-reliance is not the end, but a means to an end. It is very possible for a person to be completely independent and lack every other desirable attribute. One may become wealthy and never have to ask anyone for anything, but unless there is some spiritual goal attached to this independence, it can canker his soul....The key to making self-reliance spiritual is in using the freedom to comply with God's commandments. The scriptures are very clear in their command that it is the duty of those who have, to give to those who are in need....There is an interdependence between those who have and those who have not. The process of giving exalts the poor and humbles the rich. In the process, both are sanctified. The poor, released from the bondage and limitations of poverty, are enabled as free men to rise to their full potential, both temporally and spiritually. The rich, by imparting of their surplus, participate in the eternal principle of giving. Once a person has been made whole, or self-reliant, he reaches out to aid others, and the cycle repeats itself." (Ibid)
President Henry B. Eyring has expanded my understanding on how best to help those in need. "His way of helping has at time been called living the law of consecration. In another period His way was called the united order. In our time it is called the Church welfare program" (Ensign, May 2011, Opportunities to Do Good).
Only through obedience to the commandments can we achieve this spiritual goal of self-reliance and be truly free. Then we are to share our surplus with others through the Church welfare program.