Church History Lesson 10 (D&C 25)

The Prophet Nephi emphasized the importance of applying the scriptures in our own lives (1 Nephi 19:23). In this lesson, we discuss how we can apply in our own lives the counsel that the Lord gave to individual Saints in early Church history.

Many of the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants were given to individuals. While the counsel in these revelations was specific to individuals who lived many years ago, much of that counsel applies to us today. As the Lord repeatedly said, “What I say unto one I say unto all” (D&C 61:36; 25:16; 82:5; 93:49).

A REVELATION TO EMMA SMITH (D&C 25)

In July 1830, the Lord directed a revelation to Emma Smith, the wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith. This lesson focuses on three themes from the Lord’s revelation to Emma.

Husbands and Wives Should Support and Comfort Each Other.

This revelation to Emma Smith included counsel about her responsibilities to her husband.

●    Husbands and wives should help each other during difficult times (D&C 25:5).

The Prophet Joseph Smith said, [Wives should treat their husbands] “with mildness and affection. When a man is borne down with trouble, when he is perplexed with care and difficulty, if he can meet a smile instead of an argument or a murmur—if he can meet with mildness, it will calm down his soul and soothe his feelings.”1

The Prophet also said, “It is the duty of a husband to love, cherish, and nourish his wife, and cleave unto her and none else; he ought to honor her as himself, and he ought to regard her feelings with tenderness.”2

●    Spouses should delight in each other (D&C 25:14).

Joseph and Emma Smith were a great support to each other during the many times of affliction they faced. In 1842, when Joseph was in hiding because his life was in danger, Emma was able to visit him. Joseph later said about this visit:

“With what unspeakable delight, and what transports of joy swelled my bosom, when I took by the hand, on that night, my beloved Emma—she that was my wife, even the wife of my youth, and the choice of my heart. Many were the reverberations of my mind when I contemplated for a moment the many scenes we had been called to pass through, the fatigues and the toils, the sorrows and sufferings, and the joys and consolations, from time to time, which had strewed our paths…. Oh what a commingling of thought filled my mind for the moment, again she is here,…undaunted, firm, and unwavering—unchangeable, affectionate Emma!”3

●    Joseph and Emma endured the deaths of many of their children. In four years, they had four infant children die. Out of eleven children (two adopted), only three sons and one daughter lived into late adulthood.

At a time when the Prophet was carrying heavy burdens in connection with the growing Church in Kirtland, Ohio, Emma gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl, both of whom died within hours of their birth. At nearly the same time, in the nearby city of Orange, Ohio, twins were born to John and Julia Murdock, new converts to the Church. Within six hours of the Murdock twins’ birth, Sister Murdock died. When Emma and Joseph learned of this, they asked Brother Murdock if they might adopt the twins. Soon the two babies, Joseph and Julia Murdock, were taken into the Smiths’ home.

Lucy Mack Smith said, “I have never seen a woman in my life, who would endure every species of fatigue and hardship, from month to month, and from year to year, with that unflinching courage, zeal, and patience, which she has ever done; for I know that which she had had to endure…. She has breasted the storms of persecution, and buffeted the rage of men and devils, which would have borne down almost any other woman.”4

Be Meek and Avoid Pride.

Emma Smith was an educated and talented woman who contributed mightily to the events of the Restoration. Joseph could not have achieved what he did without her. She stood by him throughout his life, never giving up and never losing faith (something that cannot be said about most of the male leaders of the early Church.

Nevertheless, Emma was never permitted to see the Book of Mormon plates and never received any visit from an angel or other heavenly minister. She had a difficult time accepting this and apparently had expressed her disappointment to Joseph and/or to the Lord in prayer. This section of the Doctrine and Covenants is the Lord’s answer to Emma concerning her duty. It applies equally well to each of us today.

●    The Lord commanded Emma Smith to “continue in the spirit of meekness, and beware of pride” (D&C 25:14).

●    He gave similar instructions to other Church members:

—        To Oliver Cowdery: “Beware of pride, lest thou shouldst enter into temptation” (D&C 23:1).

—        To the Saints in a conference of the Church: “Beware of pride, lest ye become as the Nephites of old” (D&C 38:39).

—        To the First Presidency of the Church: “Be admonished in all your high-mindedness and pride, for it bringeth a snare upon your souls” (D&C 90:17).

—        To the Saints in Kirtland: “I, the Lord, am not well pleased with many who are in the church at Kirtland; For they do not forsake their sins, and their wicked ways, the pride of their hearts, and their covetousness” (D&C 98:19-20).

●    What is pride?

President Ezra Taft Benson said, “Most of us think of pride as self-centeredness, conceit, boastfulness, arrogance, or haughtiness. All of these are elements of the sin, but the heart, or core, is still missing. The central feature of pride is enmity—enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means ‘hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.”5

●    Pride affects our relationship with God.

President Ezra Taft Benson said:

“Pride is essentially competitive in nature. We pit our will against God’s .. . in the spirit of ‘my will and not thine be done’. . . . Our will in competition to God’s will allows desires, appetites, and passions to go unbridled (see Alma 38:12; 3 Nephi 12:30). Our enmity toward God takes on many labels, such as rebellion, hard-heartedness, stiff-neckedness, unrepentant, puffed up, easily offended, and sign seekers. The proud wish God would agree with them. They aren’t interested in changing their opinions to agree with God’s.”6

●    Pride affects our relationship with others.

President Ezra Taft Benson said, “Another major portion of this very prevalent sin of pride is enmity toward our fellowmen. We are tempted daily to elevate ourselves above others and diminish them (see Helaman 6:17; D&C 58:41). . . . Pride . . . is manifest in so many ways, such as fault-finding, gossiping, back-biting, murmuring, living beyond our means, envying, coveting, withholding gratitude and praise that might lift another, and being unforgiving and jealous. . . . Selfishness is one of the more common faces of pride. ‘How everything affects me’ is the center of all that matters—self-conceit, self-pity, worldly self-fulfillment, self-gratification, and self-seeking. . . . Another face of pride is contention. Arguments, fights, unrighteous dominion, generation gaps, divorces, spouse abuse, riots, and disturbances all fall into this category of pride.”7

●    We can overcome pride and cultivate a spirit of meekness.

President Ezra Taft Benson said, “The antidote for pride is humility—meekness, submissiveness (see Alma 7:23). It is the broken heart and contrite spirit…. We can choose to humble ourselves by loving God, submitting our will to His, and putting Him first in our lives.”8

●    Some blessings that come to us when we choose to be meek and humble (D&C 1:28; 19:23; 112:10; 124:97).

Rejoice and Be of Good Cheer.

●    The Lord admonished Emma Smith, “Lift up thy heart and rejoice” (D&C 25:13).

●    Even as the early Saints of this dispensation faced great tribulation, the Lord repeatedly gave similar admonitions to them. Note the reasons that the Lord gives us for being of good cheer:

—    To the Prophet Joseph Smith and others: “Lift up your hearts and be glad, for I am in your midst, and am your advocate with the Father” (D&C 29:5).

—    To the Prophet Joseph Smith and others: “Be of good cheer, little children; for I am in your midst, and I have not forsaken you” (D&C 61:36).

—    To Orson Hyde, Luke S. Johnson, Lyman E. Johnson, and William E. McLellin: “Be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you” (D&C 68:6).

—    To the Prophet Joseph Smith and others: “Ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along” (D&C 78:18).

—    To the Camp of Israel at Winter Quarters: “If thou art sorrowful, call on the Lord thy God with supplication, that your souls may be joyful” (D&C 136:29).

●    When we dwell on the negative events or conditions of our lives, we forfeit all of these blessings.

Elder Marvin J. Ashton said, “None of us will escape tragedy and suffering. Each of us will probably react differently. However, if we can recall the Lord’s promise, ‘for I the Lord am with you,’ we will be able to face our problems with dignity and courage. We will find the strength to be of good cheer instead of becoming resentful, critical, or defeated. We will be able to meet life’s unpleasant happenings with clear vision, strength, and power. . . . What a joy it is to see someone of good cheer, who, when others because of an unpleasant happening or development live in angry silence or vocal disgust, meets the situation with cheerful endurance and good spirits.”9

●    We can find peace and joy regardless of our circumstances.

Notes:
1.  Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 228.
2.  Elders’ Journal, August 1838, 61.
3.  History of the Church, 5:107.
4.  Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith, ed. Preston Nibley [1958], 190-191.
5.  In Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 3; or Ensign, May 1989, 4.
6.  In Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 4; or Ensign, May 1989, 4.
7.  In Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 4–5; or Ensign, May 1989, 4–6.
8.  In Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 6; or Ensign, May 1989, 6-7.
9.  In Conference Report, Apr. 1986, 84-85; or Ensign, May 1986, 66.

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