If the Lord really means what He put in the scriptures we are in huge trouble. I mean about the part where he says,
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24)
“Mammon” is Aramaic for riches. I wonder if the doctrine was so shocking to the translator that he decided to leave that one word “riches” untranslated. If we take it at face value it presents an interesting trade off. Can I really only focus on either God or my career/bank account/wealth etc? Can’t I do both? Doesn’t God want me to be rich? Yes, no, and no.
In John Medina’s book Brain Rules he asserts that relatively little is known (i.e. proven via legitimate research) about how the human brain actually works. [Medina holds joint faculty appointments at Seattle Pacific University where he is director of the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research, and at the University of Washington School of Medicine, in the Department of Bioengineering] Much of what is often claimed about the way the human brain operaties is totally bogus, he explains. He boils down what is objectively known about brain function in 12 rules. Rule 4 is “We don’t pay attention to boring things.” Part of that rule includes the specific assertion that multi-tasking is a myth. Our brain can only focus on important ideas/concepts sequentially. Because some can switch back and forth quickly it provides the illusion of multi-tasking. But it is only an illusion. In his words:
“Multitasking, when it comes to paying attention, is a myth. The brain naturally focuses on concepts sequentially, one at a time. At first that might sound confusing; at one level the brain does multitask. You can walk and talk at the same time. Your brain controls your heartbeat while you read a book. Pianists can play a piece with left hand and right hand simultaneously. Surely this is multitasking. But I am talking about the brains’s ability to pay attention. It is the resource you forcibly deploy while trying to listen to a boring lecture at school. It is the activity that collapses as your brain wanders during a tedious presentation at work. This attentional ability is not capable of multitasking.”
Now that is troubling. If physiologically we can only focus on one thing at a time, and we promise (weekly) to remember Jesus always, how much excess bandwidth does a true Christian have left over to focus on other things? Rounded to the nearest percent, the answer would be 0%. Here’s that promise: “that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him” (Moroni 5:2)
So if that’s true, isn’t the only way we could righteously get anything done to rely on Him to tell us everything that we should do?
“For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.” (2N 32:5)
Since He’s aware of even the hairs of our heads, and has counseled us not to leave even the “other [administrative types of things] undone”, surely He will help us provide for our families if we trust fully in His guidance. (see Luke 11:42 and 12:6-7) We needn’t fear or doubt His ability or willingness to direct us toward exactly what would be best for us and our families. His admonition to fear not includes releasing our trust in the arm of the flesh and associated concern regarding the management of our creature.
So what is the great distraction, the great diversion intended to concentrate our indivisible focus on something besides the Lord? We call it busyness, or in modern Babylonian-speak, business. When you believe that time equals money, and that money equals happiness, the only logical decision is to spend all available time earning money, thinking about how you might make money, or fantasizing about how your life would be different if you had more of it.
People have different motivations for wanting money. Most of them boil down to essentially three underlying motives. First, they think that through the accumulation of money they will be able to impress others. Second, they believe their money will allow them to satisfy the lusts of the flesh. Third, they believe the accumulation of money will bring them security. Pride, pleasure, and peace. These are the fundamental tenets of the natural man. There may be others, but those seem to represent the core motivations.
The most powerful delusions successfully reinforce false beliefs through accompanying false religious tenets. We too have accumulated a few of these over he years. Amongst us gentiles, things started going wrong before the restoration via a phenomenon known as the Protestant Work Ethic. As the early European immigrants to North America were largely Protestant, with a belief in exaltation by foreordination, the question often emerged regarding how, if God did choose who was saved and who wasn’t, one might determine who had been chosen and who hadn’t. It seems a logical question for a religious people who believe that God arbitrarily saves a few (144,000 to be precise), and damns the rest to hell. To solve the conundrum, a collective belief emerged that since God loved those whom he was going to save, and as he blesses those whom he loves materially, it could be known whom the chosen ones were by who was most prosperous. The Protestant Work ethic emerged as a way a man could work his way into heaven. It’s a fascinating piece of false doctrine: Work hard, manage your resources wisely, accumulate the good things of this earth, and odds were, you were going to be one of the exalted. Now we can (hopefully) see through this thinly veiled ruse that places an expectation of exaltation on those who fare well in this life based on the management of the creature. Korihor would have been pleased. Before we bash the Puritans for wresting the scriptures so, we ought to ask ourselves if we do the same thing with the word “prosper” in the scriptures. Those that keep the commandments are promised by the Lord that they would prosper in this land, right? Yes, but not in the way the natural man is most interested in prospering. Alma was clear about that:
“But behold, my son, this is not all; for ye ought to know as I do know, that inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land; and ye ought to know also, that inasmuch as ye will not keep the commandments of God ye shall be cut off from his presence. Now this is according to his word.” (Alma 36:30)
So when we keep the commandments we prosper, and when we don’t we’re cut off from his presence, does that mean the Lord’s definition of prosper is different from ours? Wait a second, you mean when He promises riches He’s not talking about bearer bonds in a Swiss account? You decide:
“Seek not for riches but for wisdom; and, behold, the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you, and then shall you be made rich. Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich.” (D&C 11:7)
When the Lord talks about prospering He’s mostly concerned with the only thing that matters–coming into His presence.
So to whom ought you pledge your (indivisible) allegiance? The philosophies of men, mingled with scripture, will remind you that partial dedication to your employer is dishonest. Give them an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, the adage goes. Don’t forget, though, who your real employer is. The truth of the matter is that you either steal from your boss at work, or you steal from your boss the jewish carpenter. Man cannot serve two masters. Full and unmitigated allegiance to your temporal boss will earn you a terrestrial reward (it is the honorable men of the earth that merit that distinction). Sometimes the best way of understanding what’s required for a celestial reward is to understand what’s required of those that shot a bit low and hit terrestrial. According to D&C 76, the terrestrial kingdom is reserved for those:
74 Who received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it.
75 These are they who are honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men.
One last thought on busyness. We tend to worship action because it is visible and measurable. We act like going to the temple 6 times in a month is 3 times more important to the Lord than going twice. The bottom line is we have no idea of what’s in people’s hearts, and thus no idea of anybody’s true level of sacrifice or devotion. The greatest example of evil of all times (at the city level) is Babylon. A quick perusal of how the residents of the city operated is instructive. They were busy enough to meet all the basic needs of life as well as build a massive public works project, the likes of which had never before been seen. Josephus described their activity thus:
CONCERNING THE TOWER OF BABYLON, AND THE CONFUSION OF TONGUES.
1. Now the sons of Noah were three, – Shem, Japhet, and Ham, born one
hundred years before the Deluge. These first of all descended from the
mountains into the plains, and fixed their habitation there; and
persuaded others who were greatly afraid of the lower grounds on
account of the flood, and so were very loath to come down from the
higher places, to venture to follow their examples. Now the plain in
which they first dwelt was called Shinar. God also commanded them to
send colonies abroad, for the thorough peopling of the earth, that
they might not raise seditions among themselves, but might cultivate a
great part of the earth, and enjoy its fruits after a plentiful
manner. But they were so ill instructed that they did not obey God;
for which reason they fell into calamities, and were made sensible, by
experience, of what sin they had been guilty: for when they flourished
with a numerous youth, God admonished them again to send out colonies;
but they, imagining the prosperity they enjoyed was not derived from
the favor of God, but supposing that their own power was the proper
cause of the plentiful condition they were in, did not obey him. Nay,
they added to this their disobedience to the Divine will, the
suspicion that they were therefore ordered to send out separate
colonies, that, being divided asunder, they might the more easily be
2. Now it was Nimrod who excited them to such an affront and contempt
of God. He was the grandson of Ham, the son of Noah, a bold man, and
of great strength of hand. He persuaded them not to ascribe it to God,
as if it was through his means they were happy, but to believe that it
was their own courage which procured that happiness. He also gradually
changed the government into tyranny, seeing no other way of turning
men from the fear of God, but to bring them into a constant dependence
on his power. He also said he would be revenged on God, if he should
have a mind to drown the world again; for that he would build a tower
too high for the waters to be able to reach! and that he would avenge
himself on God for destroying their forefathers !
3. Now the multitude were very ready to follow the determination of
Nimrod, and to esteem it a piece of cowardice to submit to God; and
they built a tower, neither sparing any pains, nor being in any degree
negligent about the work: and, by reason of the multitude of hands
employed in it, it grew very high, sooner than any one could expect;
but the thickness of it was so great, and it was so strongly built,
that thereby its great height seemed, upon the view, to be less than
it really was. It was built of burnt brick, cemented together with
mortar, made of bitumen, that it might not be liable to admit water.
When God saw that they acted so madly, he did not resolve to destroy
them utterly, since they were not grown wiser by the destruction of
the former sinners; but he caused a tumult among them, by producing in
them divers languages, and causing that, through the multitude of
those languages, they should not be able to understand one another.
The place wherein they built the tower is now called Babylon, because
of the confusion of that language which they readily understood
before; for the Hebrews mean by the word Babel, confusion. The Sibyl
also makes mention of this tower, and of the confusion of the
language, when she says thus: “When all men were of one language, some
of them built a high tower, as if they would thereby ascend up to
heaven, but the gods sent storms of wind and overthrew the tower, and
gave every one his peculiar language; and for this reason it was that
the city was called Babylon.” But as to the plan of Shinar, in the
country of Babylonia, Hestiaeus mentions it, when he says thus: “Such
of the priests as were saved, took the sacred vessels of Jupiter
Enyalius, and came to Shinar of Babylonia.”
Don’t trade what matters most for what will pass away with this earth. Celestial requires complete abdication of one’s will for God’s. Terrestrial calls for self-made men, eager, ambitious, aggressive, resourceful, and ever mindful to manage the creature so as to ensure a comfortable sojourn here in hell. The two ways are thus; employ your whole self in either trying to get out of hell now, or walking the path of self aggrandizement and ease by employing your whole self in the domination of earthly resources and peers. Choose wisely and be diligent on the path you choose, for both masters are austere men, harvesting where they have not sewn, and spitting out any that are lukewarm. To serve God and mammon is to serve mammon.