Section 75 "Neither Be Idle but Labor with Your Might"

Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, (2002), 156–158


Historical Background

“On the 25th day of January 1832, a very important conference was held by the elders at Amherst, Lorain County, Ohio. The history of the Church is very brief in the report of this conference. Much business was transacted, but the most important thing was the fact that Joseph Smith was sustained and ordained, by the will of the Lord, as President of the High Priesthood.” (Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:274.)

The Prophet Joseph Smith recorded: “A few days before the conference was to commence in Amherst, Lorain county, I started with the Elders that lived in my own vicinity, and arrived in good time. At this conference much harmony prevailed, and considerable business was done to advance the kingdom, and promulgate the Gospel to the inhabitants of the surrounding country. The Elders seemed anxious for me to inquire of the Lord that they might know His will, or learn what would be most pleasing to Him for them to do, in order to bring men to a sense of their condition; for, as it was written, all men have gone out of the way, so that none doeth good, no, not one. I inquired and received the following: [D&C 75].” (History of the Church, 1:242–43.)

Notes and Commentary

D&C 75:1. Alpha and Omega

For the significance of this title see Notes and Commentary on Doctrine and Covenants 38:1.

D&C 75:2–5. Go Forth and Labor With Your Might

See Enrichment A in the Appendix for a discussion of missionary work.

D&C 75:5. What Is the Meaning of the Sheaves and the Crowns?

Anciently, grain was cut by hand and tied into large bundles or sheaves which were then carried to the place of threshing. To see a person or an animal “laden with many sheaves” (D&C 75:5) was proof that the person had reaped an abundant harvest and would now enjoy the fruits of his labors.

“Elders who go out to preach the gospel sometimes return and report that they know not whether they have been the means of converting anybody or not. But if they have been faithful, the harvest is sure. The seed they have sown may sprout and come to maturity years after they have been released.” (Smith and Sjodahl, Commentary, p. 434.)

The Lord had already instructed missionaries: “For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul” (D&C 4:4).

Elder Bruce R. McConkie commented on the symbolism of being crowned: “Those who gain exaltation in the highest heaven of the celestial world shall wear crowns. Perhaps literal crowns may be worn on occasion—emblematic of their victory over the world and signifying that they rule and reign as kings and queens in the eternal house of Israel. But at all times they will be ‘crowned with honor, and glory, and immortality, and eternal life.’ (D. & C. 75:5.)” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 173.)

D&C 75:10–11. Calling On the Comforter and Praying Always

Smith and Sjodahl explained the importance for gospel teachers of prayer:

“They were commanded (v. 4) to preach the truth ‘according to the revelations and commandments’ given. They were to keep strictly to the revealed word, but even this they could not do without the aid of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit of God. Studying alone does not qualify an Elder for preaching the truth. It is the Spirit that qualifies. …

“Some Elders put all their faith in preaching. The Latter-day Saints generally will endorse the following, though uttered by one not a member of the Church:

“‘What is preaching without praying! Sermons are but pulpit performances, learned essays, rhetorical orations, popular lectures, or it may be political harangues, until God gives, in answer to earnest prayer, the preparation of the heart, and the answer of the tongue. It is only he who prays that can truly preach. Many a sermon that has shown no intellectual genius and has violated all homiletic rules and standards has had dynamic spiritual force. Somehow it has moved men, melted them, moulded them. The man whose lips are touched by God’s living coal from off the altar may even stammer, but his hearers soon find out that he is on fire with one consuming passion to save souls’ (Arthur T. Pierson, The Fundamentals, Vol. IX., p. 67).” (Commentary, p. 435.)

D&C 75:19–22. Shake the Dust off Your Feet

See Notes and Commentary for Doctrine and Covenants 60:15–17.

missionary praying while his companion studies

A preacher of righteousness must know God’s will.

D&C 75:22. Why Will It Be More Tolerable for the Heathen Than for Those Who Reject the Missionaries?

Elder James E. Talmage noted that “man will be accounted blameless or guilty, according to his deeds as interpreted in the light of the law under which he is required to live. It is inconsistent with our conception of a just God, to believe Him capable of inflicting condemnation upon any one for noncompliance with a requirement of which the person had no knowledge. Nevertheless, the laws of the Church will not be suspended even in the case of those who have sinned in darkness and ignorance; but it is reasonable to believe that the plan of redemption will afford such benighted ones an opportunity of learning the laws of God; and surely, as fast as they so learn, will obedience be required on pain of the penalty.” (Articles of Faith, p. 519.)

D&C 75:24–28. The Church to Support Families of Those Called to Proclaim the Gospel

President Joseph Fielding Smith said that “the brethren who were called to take these missionary journeys were quite generally poor men in temporal things. It was difficult for them to go out on the Lord’s work and leave their families without support. Yet the call was essential, for the souls of men were at stake and there were those waiting to hear the message who would be a strength to the Church after they received the Gospel. The Lord took into account the needs of the families of these brethren, and he said, ‘It is the duty of the Church to assist in supporting the families of those who are called and must needs be sent unto the world. …’ The commandment therefore was given that suitable places should be provided in which these families could be housed and cared for, and the members of the Church were admonished to ‘open their hearts,’ and assist in this undertaking. If there were brethren, however, who could support themselves and their families, this was required of them.” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:276–77.)

D&C 75:29. The Idler Shall Not Have Place in the Church

Elder Franklin D. Richards taught: “President McKay has said, ‘Let us realize that the privilege to work is a gift, that the power to work is a blessing, that love of work is success.’

“How true this is! Yet today as in earlier times many misguided individuals embrace the philosophy of idleness, feeling that the world owes them a living. Many have a desire to destroy the establishment that has been built upon productive effort.

“In this dispensation the Lord has many times confirmed the eternal principle of work. We have been told that there is no place in the Church for the idler ‘except he repent and mend his ways,’ and ‘he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer.’ (D&C 75:29; 42:42.)” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1969, p. 121.)

Additional discussion of the evils of idleness and the value of work is found in Notes and Commentary for Doctrine and Covenants 68:31.