Read Part 1 here.
(NOTE: This article is the first of two articles adapted from The Three Pillars of Zion. You can download a free sample of this new Zion series).
In Part 1 of this two-part series, we learned that a foundational principle of the law of stewardship is all things ultimately belong to the Lord, whether property, time, talents, families, or capacity for service within the Church organization.
Stewards act in their lives or in a Church calling as a trustee for the Lord, not out of personal ownership or privilege. While we no longer are required to deed over our property, we are required to figuratively deed over our hearts. We recognize that ultimately our time, talents, and property belong to the Lord, and we are stewards assigned to manage his resources under his direction.
Then a remarkable thing happens: God helps us to depart from Babylon, and he becomes our Paymaster in Zion. Once the Lord has separated us from Babylon and has placed within our care a stewardship in his kingdom, we must discharge our duty faithfully and never turn back.
The law of stewardship is the law upon which Zion’s equality is achieved. Zion people come unto Christ and hearken to his voice by seeking to purify their hearts; by seeking to equalize the condition of the Lord’s children through the giving of their means; by striving to heal the Lord’s children, bolster their faith, and love them. The pure in heart view themselves as stewards rather than owners, and they seek to bless the Lord’s children with their stewardships, which is the sum of everything that they have and are.
As we study the standard works, we discover the concept of stewardship throughout. Stewardships are also referred to as callings, trusts, charges, responsibilities, and inheritances or portions.[i] Some stewardships are classified as spiritual while others are temporal.[ii] For example, a Church calling is a spiritual stewardship, while an individual’s business and holdings are a temporal stewardship. Of course, even temporal things are spiritual unto the Lord.[iii]
In the early days of the Church, stewardships were also called inheritances or “portions.” BYU professor Clark V. Johnson explained that the Lord “required the bishop of the Church to give every man an inheritance. [The Lord] explained that Church members were equal according to their family, circumstances, wants, and needs (D&C 51:4).” Here we see the principles of stewardship and accountability as they apply to an inheritance. We note that it is the bishop who assigns inheritances in Zion, and he is also the one who, in behalf of the Lord, receives an account of their management.
Receiving and reporting on Church callings and tithing settlement are manifestations of these principles. With regard to the management of their stewardships, “the Lord reminded members of the Church that when they had enough to satisfy their needs, they were to give the surplus to the storehouse. D&C 70:7-D&C 82:18 Excess gained in the operation of the stewardship was to be used to administer to those who were in need (D&C 42:33–34). The bishop kept all surplus donated from the stewardships in a storehouse he organized (D&C 51:13).”[iv]
Even today we might expect to render accountings of our various stewardships to the bishop. For example, we make such an accounting to him when he interviews us for a temple recommend, and from time to time, when we counsel with him, we also make an accounting of our lives. Because the law of consecration requires that we consecrate our time, talents, and all that we have and are to the kingdom of God, the bulk of our stewardships usually lie outside the Church organization. Nevertheless, we are accountable for them to the Lord and to his servant, the bishop. Perhaps more blessings would flow to us if we lived the law of stewardship more faithfully and felt more accountability on each point of the law.
We would expect that our actual inheritances in priesthood society of Zion would follow the pattern described in Doctrine and Covenants 58: “This is a law unto every man that cometh unto this land to receive an inheritance; and he shall do with his moneys according as the law [of consecration] directs.”[v] Although we privately own our inheritances, we must consider them as consecrated stewardships, and thus we are accountable to the Lord for them according to the law of accountability.[vi]
If we live the law of stewardship, we are promised safety, for our consecrated effort is “to prepare [us] against the day of vengeance and burning.”[vii] If we do not live this law, we run the risk of suffering the consequences: “If any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment.”[viii]
In section 104 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord revealed the order by which inheritances (stewardships) are apportioned from the Lord’s resources to us, the stewards. We are reminded that “the sacred things” which are “delivered into the treasury” are the Lord’s, “and no man among you shall call it his own, or any part of it, for it shall belong to you all with one accord.”
The surplus derived from the management of the stewardship rightly belongs to Lord and must be placed in his sacred repository for the common good: “And thus shall ye preserve the avails of the sacred things in the treasury, for sacred and holy purposes. And this shall be called the sacred treasury of the Lord; and a seal shall be kept upon it that it may be holy and consecrated unto the Lord.”[ix] The Lord’s servant, the bishop, manages the treasury and the Lord’s resources. This is the order of the law of stewardship.
In our day, we would call this sacred treasury the Bishop’s Storehouse, which is separate from the “Lord’s
Of course, the Church maintains other treasuries—for instance, monetary funds, warehouses of supplies, and service departments. We also read of sacred treasuries in heaven. For example, “Lay up for yourselves a treasure in heaven, yea, which is eternal, and which fadeth not away; yea, that ye may have that precious gift of eternal life.”[x] To access that heavenly treasury, we must sacrifice our personal treasures in this world: “Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto [the rich young man], Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.”[xi]
One definition of “treasure” is anything that is good. Under this definition, even our testimonies could be considered stewardships. We know that the law of consecration requires that every good thing that we receive from the Lord must be returned to him with increase. Interestingly, when we bear sincere testimony, our testimony grows,[xii] and that allows us to fulfill the law and return our testimony to the Lord with increase.