‘Many years ago the federal government placed agents throughout the country to help farmers learn to be more productive. One agent in the South went to visit an old farmer in his area, but he found that convincing the farmer to change proved rather difficult.
He asked the farmer, “Wouldn’t you like to know how to get your cows to give more milk?”
“Nope,” the farmer replied.
“Well, wouldn’t you like your pigs to have larger litters of baby pigs?”
Again the farmer answered, “Nope.”
“Well, wouldn’t you like to learn how to get more corn per acre?”
The same answer was given as before: “Nope.”
Exasperated, the county agent asked, “Well, why not?”
The farmer replied simply, “I already knows more than I does.”’ (William H Baker, BYU devotional July 2006)
This is often called the information age. We have more information at our fingertips than at any other time in the history of the world but not all information has the same value.
The most vital information is gospel knowledge. President Spencer W. Kimball commented:
“Spiritual learning takes precedence. The secular without the foundation of the spiritual is … like the foam upon the milk, the fleeting shadow. … One need not choose between the two … for there is opportunity to get both simultaneously” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982, p. 390).
Where can we find knowledge that is more vital than that offered by Twitter, Google or Facebook?
One source is the temple. In the temple we come into the Lord’s house, described in D&C 109:8 as “a house of learning”. Here we are taught eternal truths and can more readily receive personal revelation.
Another source is the scriptures. President Joseph Fielding Smith said:
“Today we are troubled by evil-designing persons who [endeavor] … to destroy the testimonies of members of the Church, and many … are in danger because of lack of understanding and because they have not sought the guidance of the Spirit. … It is a commandment from the Lord that members … be diligent … and study … the fundamental truths of the gospel. … Every baptized person [can] have an abiding testimony. … but [it] … will grow dim and eventually disappear [without] … study, obedience, and diligent seeking to know and understand the truth” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1963, p. 22).
This is even more true today than it was in 1963. It may be salutary to look at where we get our information from, how reliable it is, how beneficial it is and what we do with it. For information, or knowledge, cannot save us. Unlike the farmer in the story we have to put our knowledge into practice.
The 13th article of faith says that we, as Latter-day Saints, seek after things that are “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy” (Articles of Faith 1:13).
Satan has a different prescription he would have us follow:
We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men in public, in private it doesn’t matter what we do.
Indeed, we may say that on the surface we follow the admonition of Paul.
We believe all things are known by God but we hope all things we do in secret will be hidden from God.
We have endured many talks about personal worthiness, and hope to be able to endure all talks about personal worthiness without having to change what we do or watch or read.
If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we find it boring a and we seek after more exciting things.
We all already know more than we do. Our knowledge should lead to a change in behaviour which should lead to a change in who we are as we become more like our Saviour. Becoming is a long term project – it will last well into the next life but we need to make a start now.