Well, it is another second Sunday, which means it was my turn to teach in church today. My lesson was on "The Spiritual Gifts of Healing, Tongues, Prophecy, and Discerning of Spirits." Although the lesson focused on these four specific gifts, there are many different spiritual gifts with which we have each been blessed. Our gifts and talents are as unique as we are and we need to spiritually prepare ourselves to receive the gifts our Father would bless us with; we can also develop gifts that we may not find inherent in ourselves. Below are a few of the supporting quotes and stories that I shared as a part of my lesson:
On Receiving Spiritual Gifts…
Marvin J. Ashton, “There Are Many Gifts,” Ensign, Nov 1987:
One of the great tragedies of life, it seems to me, is when a person classifies himself as someone who has no talents or gifts. When, in disgust or discouragement, we allow ourselves to reach depressive levels of despair because of our demeaning self-appraisal, it is a sad day for us and a sad day in the eyes of God. For us to conclude that we have no gifts when we judge ourselves by stature, intelligence, grade-point average, wealth, power, position, or external appearance is not only unfair but unreasonable.
From D&C 46:11-12, we have this truth: “For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.”
God has given each of us one or more special talents. Socrates made the famous statement, “The unexamined life is not worth living” (“Apology,” The Dialogues of Plato, trans. Benjamin Jowett, Chicago Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1952, p. 210). It is up to each of us to search for and build upon the gifts which God has given. We must remember that each of us is made in the image of God, that there are no unimportant persons.
We must remember that to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. It is our right and responsibility to accept our gifts and to share them. God’s gifts and powers are available to all of us.
God does live. He does bless us with gifts. As we develop and share our God-given gifts and benefit from the gifts of those around us, the world can be a better place and God’s work will move forward at a more rapid pace.
On Sharing Sacred Experiences...
Maureen Ebert Leavitt, “Privacy and a Sense of Self,” Ensign, Aug 1978:
We… need a place for private thoughts within our minds. We need to learn to keep confidences with our Heavenly Father and to respect the rights of others to hold some things sacred.
I have participated in various kinds of leadership seminars and discussion groups designed to teach us to communicate honestly with one another in a sensitive way. Even though everyone carefully avoided negative comments, I still felt that there was present an uncomfortable pressure to reveal innermost emotions. It became embarrassing to admit that certain feelings were special and I didn’t want to share them. Leaving the room after one such session, I wondered how many regretted their fleeting confidences, shared in an atmosphere that loosened their tongues without quickening their minds.
But silence is sometimes better. Sometimes it’s better to hold special experiences inside, within our own personal temple. Sometimes it’s better not to repeat the intimate conversation you had with your companion, even if he didn’t warn you not to tell anyone else. Sometimes it’s better not to share the details of a blessing. Sometimes it’s better to keep our thoughts to ourselves.
Why this sacredness, this privacy, in the area of thoughts too? “There are some things just too sacred to discuss,” explained Elder Boyd K. Packer in April 1971 conference. “It is not that they are secret, but they are sacred; not to be discussed, but to be harbored and to be protected and regarded with the deepest of reverence.” (Boyd K. Packer, “The Spirit Beareth Record,” Ensign, April 1971)
This does not mean that sacred experiences should not be shared; on the contrary, some deeply personal testimonies of the Savior have been given for the world to hear. We… can know when and if to share something close to our heart. If we are to share it, we need to check with the Lord before we speak, and he can prompt us by the Holy Ghost. And as we learn to preserve our own privacy and respect the privacy of others, we may find that we actually have more to share – more time, more understanding, and more commitment.
On Healing Blessings...
President Kimball has said:
“If all the sick for whom we pray were healed, if all the righteous were protected and the wicked destroyed, the whole program of the Father would be annulled and the basic principle of the gospel, free agency, would be ended. No man would have to live by faith.
“Should all prayers be immediately answered according to our selfish desires and our limited understanding, then there would be little or no suffering, sorrow, disappointment, or even death, and if these were not, there would also be no joy, success, resurrection, nor eternal life and godhood.
“Being human, we would expel from our lives physical pain and mental anguish and assure ourselves of continual ease and comfort, but if we were to close the doors upon sorrow and distress, we might be excluding our greatest friends and benefactors. Suffering can make saints of people as they learn patience, long-suffering, and self-mastery.” (Faith Precedes the Miracle)
People are not always healed after a priesthood administration, but Heavenly Father will answer our prayers in the way that is best for us. He knows that some people can become stronger by learning to live with their disability or sickness. Others may not be healed because it is not Heavenly Father’s will. “And again, it shall come to pass that he that hath faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed” (D&C 42:48). Priesthood blessings comfort the sick and show Heavenly Father’s love for His children.
On the Gift of Discernment…
David A. Bednar, “Quick to Observe,” Ensign, Dec 2006:
I repeat again for emphasis the truth that discernment is a light of protection and direction in a world that grows increasingly dark. You and I can press forward safely and successfully through the mist of darkness and have a clear sense of spiritual direction. Discernment is so much more than recognizing right from wrong. It helps us distinguish the relevant from the irrelevant, the important from the unimportant, and the necessary from that which is merely nice.
The gift of discernment opens to us vistas that stretch far beyond what can be seen with natural eyes or heard with natural ears. Discerning is seeing with spiritual eyes and feeling with the heart – seeing and feeling the falsehood of an idea or the goodness in another person. Discerning is hearing with spiritual ears and feeling with the heart – hearing and feeling the unspoken concern in a statement or the truthfulness of a testimony or doctrine.
President Gordon B. Hinckley taught: “You recognize the promptings of the Spirit by the fruits of the Spirit – that which enlighteneth, that which buildeth up, that which is positive and affirmative and uplifting and leads us to better thoughts and better words and better deeds is of the Spirit of God. That which tears us down, which leads us into forbidden paths – that is of the adversary… How do we recognize the promptings of the Spirit? You put it to that test. If it invites to do good, it is of God. If it inviteth to do evil, it is of the devil… If you are doing the right thing and if you are living the right way, you will know in your heart what the Spirit is saying to you.”
On Following the Prophets’ Guidance…
Joseph B. Wirthlin, “The Lord’s Side,” Ensign, Mar 1993:
The statements of the prophets are not given to compel, coerce, dictate, control, or infringe on any person’s right to choose. Church leaders are guided by the Lord’s injunction: “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile.” (D&C 121:41-42.) The prophets and other Church leaders never have misled the members on a principle of righteousness. Every principle is for our benefit. However, if we choose to ignore the prophets, we choose the consequences that follow. We have the God-given agency to either follow the prophets or not, but we cannot choose the consequences of exercising that agency. They will follow with absolute certainty. If we ignore the prophets, we become like the people the Savior chastised when he said, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46.)
the greater your capacity to create."