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I am embarrassed to admit that I was once a cable news junkie. Like millions of others, I got caught up in the feeding frenzy, the supposed “evidence” of myriad conspiracies and the unconscionable evils of every member of an opposing political party.
By choice, I am an Independent, but I soon discovered that commentators had the skill to sway me. That which had begun as an effort to be informed became a ringside seat to a brawl. Each night I watched combatants put on their gloves and duke it out. Nothing was ever solved, of course, but the audience was entertained. Lots of yelling, sarcasm, interrupting, rudeness and aimless bantering called “debate.” When the commentator struck a deathblow with a well-placed zinger, I could almost hear a collective cheer from TV Land.
Then I read a warning from the Lord.
“Ye hear of wars in far countries, and you say that there will soon be great wars in far countries, but ye know not the hearts of men in your own land.
“I tell you these things because of your prayers; wherefore, treasure up wisdom in your bosoms, lest the wickedness of men reveal these things unto you by their wickedness in a manner which shall speak in your ears with a voice louder than that which shall shake the earth; but if ye are prepared ye shall not fear” (D&C 38:29-30).
Notice that the Lord did not discount the fact that wickedness will prevail in high places. Scan the prophecies of last days, and you will see that gross wickedness is and will become more prevalent. Are there conspiracies? Yes. Is there corruption? Yes. Will these things become worse? Yes.
What could be worse than civilization spiraling out of control?
Actually, according to the scripture, there is at least one thing that is worse than the wickedness. It is the voice that exaggerates the message of wickedness. Listen to the Lord’s words: “Treasure up wisdom in your bosoms.” Why? “Lest the wickedness of men reveal these things unto you by their wickedness in a manner which shall speak in your ears with a voice louder than that which shall shake the earth.”
As I understand the scripture, some manipulative individuals in the last days will use their podium to interpret events in an inflammatory manner that carries a louder voice than the voice of the actual events. A fifty-pound problem just became a hundred-pound problem. The voice of judgments that will shake the earth will be deafening, but the louder voice will be the one that gives the play-by-play. And what is the purpose of these individuals? To inflate, exacerbate, cause contention, anger, inflame and basically scare us to death.
The Lord offers a remedy: “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear.”
Since I was a young boy, I was taught that this scriptural phrase had to do with storing food, saving money and getting out of debt. But reading the scripture through another lens, I perceive another level of preparedness that the Lord wants me to consider. “Treasure up wisdom,” He says.
Where does one seek wisdom? Apparently not solely from certain commentators. My dictionary defines wisdom as “the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment.”
Here are some scriptures that point us toward wisdom:
- “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God” (James 1:5).
- “Blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom” (2 Nephi 28:30).
- “And inasmuch as they sought wisdom they might be instructed” (D&C 1:26).
- “And listen to the counsel of him who has ordained you from on high, who shall speak in your ears words of wisdom” (D&C 78:2).
- “Seek not for riches, but for wisdom” (D&C 6:7; 11:7).
Clearly, wisdom is connected to spiritual maturity, sound knowledge and it comes as a gift of the Spirit. “To some is given, by the Spirit of God, the word of wisdom. To another is given the word of knowledge, that all may be wise and to have knowledge” (D&C 46:17-18).
Should we be informed and involved? Of course. Should we prepare for difficult times by storing food, saving money and resisting debt? Certainly. But I have observed that many people who take such precautions do so by taking counsel from the wrong voices, and consequently, they still fear. That is precisely what the Lord informs us will not happen if we prepare with wisdom.
I am intrigued that the apostles and prophets, who actually can see the future and accurately interpret current events, never sound a hopeless warning or fail to show us a clear path to safety. Theirs are authorized voices that have no other motive than to speak for the Lord and bless us. They do not seek ratings, popularity, influence or money. They often speak so softly that one must listen with spiritual ears to hear the thunderous import of the message.
Blessings are associated with seeking wisdom to listen and prepare.
- “Angels did appear unto wise men” (Helaman 16:14).
- “For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived-verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day” (D&C 45:57).
- “And whoso is found a faithful, a just, and a wise steward shall enter into the joy of his Lord, and shall inherit eternal life” (D&C 51:19).
- “He who is faithful and wise in time is accounted worthy to inherit the mansions prepared for him of my Father” (D&C 72:4).
- “And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach the heaven; and before them the wisdom of the wise shall perish, and the understanding of the prudent shall come to naught” (D&C 76:9).
But we still are lured by the honey-tongued orator or the flamboyant commentator who raises his prophetic voice in righteous indignation “in a manner which shall speak in your ears with a voice louder than that which shall shake the earth.” We rocket their books to the best-seller lists; we flock to stadiums to hear them preach their doctrine; we Tweet their sound bites; we subscribe to their blogs and “like” them of Facebook. And we’re still afraid. Aren’t we taught that false prophets will arise in the last days?
I wonder how we might fare if we gave equal time to the Lord’s servants? “How slow [are men] to walk in wisdom’s paths” (Helaman 12:5).
So now you might be thinking, “Brother Barkdull is certainly not talking about my favorite commentator.” Let me save you some time. I probably am.
“O be wise; what more can I say?” (Jacob 6:12).
I’m bracing for the irate letters.