Note: continuation of That Thy Burdens May Be Light
One could readily misinterpret the prior post to imply:
- the gifts of God are binary (while scripture and experience would indicate degree); and
- being equally yoked means having identical gifts of identical degree (self-evidently absurd).
It is too easy to abdicate personal responsibility to nourish/succor/develop one’s own talents and substitute an unhealthy dependence on one who is presumed to be more gifted. Oh the list of problems we could list that would result from such dependence (e.g., priest-craft, unrighteous dominion, abuse, faithlessness, idolatry). Yet, what could justify withholding gifts to the detriment of others? If we were to hide our gifts, would we not deny others a variety of blessings, including the mentoring of others as they cultivate their gifts?
The concept of optimizing how and when we step in to help another in order to optimize their personal growth is not new. Parents do this all the time while teaching their children (okay, perhaps not very optimally). But, I never thought of applying this to spiritual gifts/skills. And, perhaps more importantly, I do not remember attributing virtue to this. It is not too difficult to imagine Heavenly Father striking a perfect balance to optimize our individual and collective growth. We might equally image that He could have chosen to build a system where we have no agency and are absolutely dependent upon Him for all things, thus denying us the ability to grow in faith, intelligence, glory, etc. But, He didn’t. We are of course dependent upon Him for many important things, but it seems that this dependence is compartmentalized and dynamic.
Scriptural support or refutation?
Agency layers another dimension upon this. Some aspects of His help are universal and consequently independent of our choices (e.g., resurrection; raining on the evil and the good). Others (most?) appear to require our involvement, making it all to easy for us to leave Him out of the equation. Hey, never mind, I’ve got this. Ha.
Perhaps we have two dimensions: one represents our exercising our agency to supplicate help contrasted with our going it alone. Another may represent Him acting to help or not (or to oppose?). In one corner, we ask for help, and get it. In a second corner we ask for help, but don’t get it. In a third corner we don’t ask for help and we don’t get it. In the forth corner, we don’t ask for help, but get it anyway. Putting this on the two axes implies degree. How hard to we pursue help? How much help is provided?
Then there is the timing of the help.
Again, we presume in all this that Heavenly Father optimizes His response to us and our needs. How do we to follow His example? What process/criteria/method do we use to make such decisions? Do we start with the assumption that our decisions cannot be based on our selfish desires? Do we further presume that we go to the Father in prayer for help? What do we do when help is withheld? How do we know when we’ve got it right; more prayer?
What do we call this virtue we are trying to develop?