GIVE OF YOUR SUBSTANCE
A few years ago while serving as the Young Men President in my home ward, I observed that “giving of your substance” is emphasized and reemphasized in the scriptures. The boys in my quorum were still in High School and essentially had no substance; they could not give money to the poor and the needy. Yet the commandment still stood. This made a strong impression on me as I pondered how these Priests age young men could comply with this commandment; now or in the near future when they would become missionaries. I came to realize that “substance” is not only money, but what you have to share. And, the “poor and the needy” are not only people with no money but also people who are poor and needy spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally. Since no one is perfect, then using this definition everyone is poor and needy in some way. The following outlines a few of the scriptural references to “giving of your substance” which takes on a whole new dimension using the spiritual definition not the literal definition. (By the way, I think it is also mandatory to take literal the commandment and to give generously of your money and material wealth.)
For the purposes of these scriptures, think of the following literal physical needs as symbolic for the spiritual needs listed below. Many other spiritual metaphors could be listed:
· Our Substance – our ability to minister and our: time, attention, prayer, good deeds, uplifting words, compassion, spiritual support, succor, home or visiting teaching, etc.
· Sick – with worldliness
· Afflicted – with sin
· Poor – in spirituality
· Needy – in faith
· Hungry – for meaning in life
· Naked – without armor of righteousness and shield of faith
· Heal – Spiritual sickness
· Raise the dead – raise the spiritually dead
· Lame – cannot walk the narrow path
· Blind – cannot see truth, Christ and Christ centered life
· Deaf – to the word of God
· Cast out devils – evil that dwell in hearts of man
· Beggars - want what you have
Mosiah 18:27-28. Alma commanded the people of the church to freely impart of their substance which is that which he has to the spiritually needy and spiritually naked souls?
Mosiah 2:21-25. The Lord created us and gave us our substance. It is not ours to retain. In the first place he preserves and supports us day to day that we may live and breath so we are indebted to him. Secondly, he immediately blesses us when we keep his commandments, so we are still indebted to him.
DC 104:12-18. We are accountable as a steward over earthly blessings. All things are the Lord’s. The earth is full and there is enough to spare. We must take of our [the Lord’s] abundance and impart to the poor and the needy or lift up our eyes in hell.
Alma 34:13-28. Christ will bring salvation to all those who shall believe. We must exercise our faith unto repentance and pray. After all this, if we turn away the needy, naked, visit the sick and afflicted, impart not your substance to those in need, your prayer is vain and availeth you nothing.
Mormon 8:37-39. In our day men will love their substance more than the poor, needy, sick and afflicted.
“39 Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not?”
The Savior’s own teachings are rich in admonishment to give of your substance. To cite just a few: the parable of the good Samaritan, the young rich man, the parable laying up treasures in heaven and the parable of Lazarus and the rich man.
Mosiah 4:15-27. We are to succor and administer our substance to him who stands in need. Never say to yourself this man has brought upon himself his misery and then withhold because his punishments are just. We are all beggars and rely on God to give us our substance. We are all beggars for a remission of sins. God grants to us whatsoever we ask, so we ought to impart the substance we receive from him to others. It does not belong to you but to God to whom also your life belongs. Impart of your substance and you will retain a remission of your sins from day to day.
“26 I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.
27 And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength…”
Giving your substance is a serious commandment. Your substance is what you have. For the rest of our lives, I hope we will remember that imparting our substance includes not only money but also our ministering and our: time, attention, prayer, good deeds, uplifting words, compassion, spiritual support, succor, home and visiting teaching, etc.