Section 60 "Thou Shalt Not Idle Away Thy Time nor Bury Thy Talents"

Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, (2002), 130–131


Historical Background

On 3 June 1831 a conference was held at Kirtland, Ohio, at which twenty-eight missionaries were called to go to the land of Missouri, preaching the gospel as they journeyed (see D&C 52). Having completed their mission, “on the 8th day of August, 1831, at the close of the first conference held in Missouri, the elders inquired what they were to do. The Prophet inquired of the Lord and received a revelation giving them direction in relation to their return journey.” (Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:220.)

Notes and Commentary

D&C 60:1–3. “They Will Not Open Their Mouths, but They Hide the Talent”

It was pleasing to the Lord that the elders had traveled to Missouri, and now they were to return speedily to Ohio. But the Lord was not pleased with some of them. President Joseph Fielding Smith noted: “They had been commanded to preach the Gospel along the way and bear testimony among the people, but some had failed to magnify this commandment because of their fear of man. It is true that not every man is a natural missionary, and there are those who shrink from the responsibility of raising their voices in proclamation of the Gospel, and yet this is an obligation that we owe to this fallen world. The elders in the very beginning had been commanded to serve the Lord with all their ‘heart, might, mind and strength,’ for the field is white and ready for the harvest. A penalty was to be inflicted upon those who failed and they were not to stand blameless at the last day. The preaching of the Gospel was to be a means to them by which they were not to perish, but bring salvation to their souls. There are many who have been sent forth who have had a fear of man, yet the Lord has promised to support them in their labors if they will trust in him.” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:220–21.)

man in hard hat showing Book of Mormon to coworker

Those who have been warned are to warn their neighbors.

D&C 60:4. “I Shall Make Up My Jewels”

In all ages jewels have been highly esteemed by man. As these precious stones are the best and most valued that the earth can produce, so are those people who prepare themselves by obedience to the commandments, for they will be the jewels the Savior will claim when He comes in glory (see Isaiah 62:3; Zechariah 9:16; Malachi 3:17; D&C 101:3).

D&C 60:8, 13–14. “Preach My Gospel among the Congregations of the Wicked”

President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote that the Lord often “refers to the people scattered abroad as ‘congregations of the wicked.’ We have good reason to believe that wickedness prevailed among the congregations. The elders were to seek out from among the people the honest in heart and leave their warning testimony with all others, thus they would become clean from their blood.” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:223.)

D&C 60:13. “Thou Shalt Not … Bury Thy Talent”

The full significance of this warning may be found in Matthew 25:14–30.

D&C 60:15–17. ”Shake Off the Dust of Thy Feet”

The ordinance of washing the dust from one’s feet was practiced in New Testament times and was reinstituted in this dispensation (see D&C 88:139–40; John 11:2; 12:3; 13:5–14). The action of shaking or cleansing the dust from one’s feet is a testimony against those who refuse to accept the gospel (see D&C 24:15; 84:92; 99:4). Because of the serious nature of this act, Church leaders have directed that it be done only at the command of the Spirit. President Joseph Fielding Smith explained: “The cleansing of their feet, either by washing or wiping off the dust, would be recorded in heaven as a testimony against the wicked. This act, however, was not to be performed in the presence of the offenders, ‘lest thou provoke them, but in secret, and wash thy feet, as a testimony against them in the day of judgment.’ The missionaries of the Church who faithfully perform their duty are under the obligation of leaving their testimony with all with whom they come in contact in their work. This testimony will stand as a witness against those who reject the message, at the judgment.” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:223; see also Notes and Commentary for D&C 24:15.)