“They Hide the Talent Which I Have Given unto Them”

Doctrine and Covenants 60:1–4

1 Behold, thus saith the Lord unto the elders of his church, who are to return speedily to the land from whence they came: Behold, it pleaseth me, that you have come up hither;
2 But with some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man. Wo unto such, for mine anger is kindled against them.
3 And it shall come to pass, if they are not more faithful unto me, it shall be taken away, even that which they have.
4 For I, the Lord, rule in the heavens above, and among the armies of the earth; and in the day when I shall make up my jewels, all men shall know what it is that bespeaketh the power of God.

President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote:

“On the 8th day of August, 1831, at the close of the first conference held in Missouri, the elders inquired what they were to do. The Prophet inquired of the Lord and received a revelation giving them direction in relation to their return journey. The Lord commenced His instruction by saying that He was pleased with them for making the journey to Missouri, and now they were to return speedily to the land from whence they came [see D&C 60:1]. However, some of them received a rebuke, for the Lord was not pleased with them because, on the journey from Ohio, they had not followed the counsels that had been given. They had been commanded to preach the gospel along the way and bear testimony among the people, but some had failed to magnify this commandment because of their fear of man [see D&C 60:2]. It is true that not every man is a natural missionary, and there are those who shrink from the responsibility of raising their voices in proclamation of the gospel, and yet this is an obligation that we owe to this fallen world. The elders in the very beginning had been commanded to serve the Lord with all their ‘heart, might, mind and strength,’ for the field is white and ready for the harvest [see D&C 4:2, 4]. A penalty was to be inflicted upon those who failed and they were not to stand blameless at the last day. The preaching of the gospel was to be a means to them by which they were not to perish, but bring salvation to their souls [see D&C 4:4]. There are many who have been sent forth who have had a fear of man, yet the Lord has promised to support them in their labors if they will trust in Him.

“On this occasion the Lord gave a warning to those who had failed, and had ‘not opened their mouths,’ but had hid the talent the Lord had given them [see D&C 60:2]. They were told that the authority which had been given them would be taken away if they did not improve in their ministry [see D&C 60:3]. ‘For I, the Lord, rule in the heavens above, and among the armies of the earth; and in the day when I shall make up my jewels, all men shall know what it is that bespeaketh the power of God’ [D&C 60:4]. If all the missionaries that have been sent out to the nations of the earth since the Church was organized, had labored with all their ‘heart, might, mind and strength’ [D&C 4:2]; if they had had the love of their fellowmen at heart and abiding testimony of the truth, there would have been no failures, and thousands who have never heard the truth and who have not had the proper opportunity to hear the preaching of the gospel, would have been properly warned, and of these many thousands there would have been a vast multitude who would have come into the Church. It is a fact that many of those who have been set apart and sent forth to the peoples of the earth, have failed to comprehend the significance of missionary labors and have wasted their time. These never received a testimony of the truth because the Spirit of the Lord could not abide with them. When we see a missionary return after a two- or three-year mission and within a very short time he has ceased to take any part in the Church and has grown a neglect of duty, and eventually falling into the habit of smoking or otherwise violating the Word of Wisdom, we may safely conclude that such a missionary never received a testimony of the truth and failed to have the companionship of the Holy Spirit while he was away. To all such there will come a terrible punishment and their very salvation is at stake. They have not cleansed themselves from the blood and sins of this generation unto whom they were sent. The Lord declared that the Jews of His generation, because they had rejected Him and His words, would be sorely punished, and that all ‘the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias’ (Matt. 23:35), would be required of them. This is a dreadful thought. If such a punishment was to come upon those who rejected Him, then what may be the punishment of those who bear His name and then ‘idle away their time’? [see D&C 60:13].”

(Church History and Modern Revelation, 2 vols. [1953], 1:220–22.)