Elder Bruce R. McConkie spoke about the laws of sacrifice and consecration. He laid down a powerful challenge that should cause each of us deep introspection to the core:
“We are not always called upon to live the whole law of consecration and give all of our time, talents, and means to the building up of the Lord’s earthly kingdom. Few of us are called upon to sacrifice much of what we possess, and at the moment there is only an occasional martyr in the cause of revealed religion.
But what the scriptural account means is that to gain celestial salvation we must be able to live these laws to the full if we are called upon to do so. Implicit in this is the reality that we must in fact live them to the extent we are called upon so to do.”
If we are not living the Gospel and giving of our time and energy to the Kingdom of God now, then we will not be able to endure celestial law. We will not be able to live in the presence of our father again. We must be ready to give our all and give up everything to defend and build God’s kingdom. But so many of our efforts are directed elsewhere. If not actively building up Satan’s kingdom, we are nevertheless deeply plugged in to his economy.
Sometimes a big sacrifice such as a martyrs death is actually easier than the small daily sacrifices we are asked to take on. Being a martyr is a way to go out in a burst of fame and glory. Being a Saint on the other hand requires patience and perseverance even when our actions do not instantly bear fruit.
Elder McConkie told a story that reminded me of one particularly memorable experience on my mission:
“As a young man, serving at the direction of my bishop, I called upon a rich man and invited him to contribute a thousand dollars to a building fund. He declined. But he did say he wanted to help, and if we would have a ward dinner and charge $5 per plate, he would take two tickets. About ten days later this man died unexpectedly of a heart attack, and I have wondered ever since about the fate of his eternal soul.”
In one area, we had two investigators who were simultaneously progressing towards baptism. The one, a relatively affluent man who worked as a tour guide. The other, an elderly widow who had no wealth and lived alone in a tiny apartment. As we prepared to teach them the law of tithing, I worried about her reaction. How could we ask her to give up her widow’s mite. But I was surprised to see that she responded with great faith to the invitation to pay a tithe.
On the other hand, the man responded with derision. He could not understand why God would ask him to pay a tithe. And he rationalized and made excuses based on his need for the money to enjoy certain comforts such as vacations. While he kept coming to Church for a while, he stopped progressing and eventually stopped coming.
I sorrowed for this wonderful man. He had a desire to know God. He had felt the spirit and felt called to be baptized. Yet, when asked to sacrifice for the Kingdom of God he was unable and unwilling to do so. And so he was not able to receive the blessings of membership in the Church and of the promise of eternal life. We must be able to sacrifice if needed all things in order to inherit God’s kingdom.