Lesson 35: Building the Kingdom of God

Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood: Basic Manual for Priesthood Holders, Part B, (2000), 289–94


The purpose of this lesson is to motivate us to help build the kingdom of God.

Introduction

Elder Gordon B. Hinckley once told about a brilliant young naval officer from Asia who had come to the United States for advanced training. While training with the United States Navy, this young man had met some members of the Church. At his request they taught him about the gospel. The Spirit touched his heart, and he was baptized.

Elder Hinckley said:

“He was introduced to me just before he was to return to his native land. We spoke of these things, and then I said, ‘Your people are not Christians. You come from a land where Christians have had a difficult time. What will happen when you return home a Christian and, more particularly, a Mormon Christian?’

“His face clouded, and he replied, ‘My family will be disappointed. I suppose they will cast me out. They will regard me as dead. As for my future and my career, I assume that all opportunity will be foreclosed against me.’

“I asked, ‘Are you willing to pay so great a price for the gospel?’

“His dark eyes, moistened by tears, shone from his handsome brown face as he answered, ‘It’s true, isn’t it?’

“Ashamed at having asked the question, I responded, ‘Yes, it’s true.’

“To which he replied, ‘Then what else matters?’” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1973, 72; or Ensign, July 1973, 48).

  • Why did this young man give up his family and career for the kingdom of God? (He knew the gospel is of greater value than anything else.)

Our Responsibility to Build the Kingdom

  • Display a poster of the following quote, or refer to it on the chalkboard: The Kingdom of God is all that is [of] real worth. All else is not worth possessing, either here or hereafter (Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe [1954], 444).

  • What is the kingdom of God?

President Joseph F. Smith said, “The kingdom of God is the organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, over which the Son of God presides, and not man” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939], 72).

Ever since the Lord’s kingdom was restored to earth, every member of the Church has had a responsibility to see that it continues to grow. Each of us is obligated to share the gospel with nonmembers and to strengthen other members. Our work is God’s work, which is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). As we help build the kingdom of God, we are not only preparing the world for the Second Coming of the Savior, but we are also helping our brothers and sisters gain eternal life. Nothing is more important than this work.

In building the kingdom of God we must remember that the family is the basic unit of that kingdom. The very purpose of the kingdom of God, in fact, is to exalt families in the kingdom of heaven (see 1 Corinthians 11:11; D&C 93:40; 131:1–4). We must always make sure, therefore, not to neglect our families as we serve in the Church. The Lord’s counsel is clear: “Every man who is obliged to provide for his own family, let him provide, and he shall in nowise lose his crown; and let him labor in the church” (D&C 75:28).

The Law of Consecration

One of the covenants we make with the Lord when we receive our temple endowments is to live the law of consecration. The Lord has called this law a celestial law, under which we give our time, talents, and possessions to build the Lord’s kingdom.

Concerning this law the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation” (Lectures on Faith [1985], 69).

As the Prophet explained, we must develop the kind of faith that will lead us to eternal life. Such faith comes as we put the things of God’s kingdom first in our lives.

Living the Law of Consecration Today

Although the law of consecration requires us to be willing to give all we have to the Lord to build up His kingdom, “we are not always called upon to live the whole law of consecration” (Bruce R. McConkie, in Conference Report, Apr. 1975, 74; or Ensign, May 1975, 50). This is the situation in the Church today.

  • Although we do not live the law of consecration fully at this time, what can we do to show our willingness to live it? (List the responses on the chalkboard. Responses could include giving our time, talents, and possessions to help build the Lord’s kingdom. Specific answers might include caring for our family; assisting others in need; being missionaries to our neighbors, friends, relatives, and others; doing family history research and temple work; faithfully serving in our Church callings; paying an honest tithe and contributing other offerings; and praying to know what the Lord expects of us.)

Consecrating Our Time, Talents, and Possessions

It is a privilege to consecrate our time, talents, and possessions to help build up the Lord’s kingdom. Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “It is [Christ’s] voice which invites us to consecrate of our time, our talents, and our means to carry on his work. It is his voice that calls for service and sacrifice. This is his work. He is … guiding and directing the destiny of his kingdom” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1975, 77; or Ensign, May 1975, 52).

Time

  • How might we use our time to help build up the kingdom of God?

Each of us has 24 hours in every day, but we each use them differently. Some of us waste time or are too disorganized to do all we want to do for our families, the Church, our jobs, and our community. President Spencer W. Kimball said, however, that if we plan and organize our time wisely, “there will be time for service in the Church organizations and quorums; time for missionary work; time to be a quorum president, auxiliary leader, bishop, Relief Society president, [or] teacher” (The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 253).

Talents

  • How might we use our talents to help build up the kingdom of God?

The Lord has given each of us talents (see D&C 46:11). President Brigham Young said: “What is the best thing you have to devote to the Kingdom of God? It is the talents God has given you. How many? Every one of them” (Discourses of Brigham Young, 445).

Sister JoAnn Ottley, wife of Jerold D. Ottley, related an experience that shows how she and her husband used their talents for music to serve the Lord. They had spent their entire lifetimes studying and developing these gifts and have had to make many decisions regarding their use. When they were in Europe studying, Brother and Sister Ottley realized that they had an especially important and difficult decision to make. Both of them knew that if they remained in Europe, they would have many opportunities for success. They wanted above all, however, to do what the Lord wanted them to do. The Ottleys desired to be obedient, but beyond that they yearned to be used by the Lord in the building of His kingdom here on the earth.

Brother and Sister Ottley repeatedly fasted and prayed for the direction of the Spirit and to know the will of the Lord. Their answer came during a sacrament meeting at the close of a fasting period. They had both received the same instructions by the Spirit—that their work was at home. The Ottleys were to return to the United States.

There followed more months of study, preparation, and testing. Then the Lord made it possible for them to return to Salt Lake City. Sister Ottley became a member of the Tabernacle Choir, and Brother Ottley joined the Music Department at the University of Utah.

A short time later, Brother Ottley was called by the First Presidency of the Church to be the conductor of the Tabernacle Choir. The Lord had indeed been preparing them for special service.

The Ottleys understood that our time, talents, and possessions are really not ours at all, but the Lord’s. The greatest joy we can reap on this earth is to use them in building up the kingdom of God. (See “The Apples in a Seed,” in Turning Points [1981], 23–29.)

  • What attitude did Brother and Sister Ottley have that made them want to use their talents to build the kingdom? (They believed that their talents came from the Lord and are His.)

  • Have the class members suggest several talents, and list them on the board. Discuss how each could be used to build the kingdom of God. Then have the class members ponder for a moment their own talents and how they can use them to further the Lord’s work.

Possessions

  • How might we use our possessions to help build up the kingdom of God?

Joseph Smith wrote, “For a man to consecrate his property … to the Lord, is nothing more nor less than to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the widow and fatherless, the sick and afflicted, and do all he can to administer to their relief in their afflictions, and for him and his house to serve the Lord” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 127).

Even though the Lord has given us all we possess, we sometimes find it difficult to use our possessions to help His work. But when we willingly use our possessions to build the Lord’s kingdom, we show love for others, Heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ. An account in the New Testament shows how difficult—but how important—it sometimes is to willingly give up earthly possessions:

A man approached Jesus one day and asked, “What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”

Jesus answered that he should keep the commandments: he should not commit adultery, murder, steal, bear false witness, or defraud others. Jesus also told him to honor his father and his mother.

The man answered that he had always done these things. Jesus replied, “One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad because he was very rich. (See Mark 10:17–22.)

Sometimes we, like this rich man, are unwilling to give what we have to the Lord, while others would like to give more than they can. The Lord understands our situations and deals with us accordingly. Of those who cannot give what they would like to give, King Benjamin said:

“And again, I say unto the poor, ye who have not and yet have sufficient, that ye remain from day to day; I mean all you who deny the beggar, because ye have not; I would that ye say in your hearts that: I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give.

“And now, if ye say this in your hearts ye remain guiltless” (Mosiah 4:24–25).

We should be willing to give the Lord all we have—possessions, time, and talents. We will find that this willingness helps us develop faith in the Lord and love for others.

Conclusion

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have a responsibility to build the kingdom of God. We can do this by keeping our promise to serve the Lord with all our heart, might, mind, and strength. This means that we should be willing to give whatever time, talents, and possessions we are asked to give to spread the gospel. As we do this, we develop faith and love and show the Lord that we put His kingdom first. We must live this law if we are to inherit the celestial kingdom.

Challenge

Ponder your willingness to give what the Lord asks of you. Evaluate how well you are consecrating your time, talents, and possessions to the Lord’s work. Then resolve to do better.

Additional Scriptures

Teacher Preparation

Before teaching this lesson:

  1. 1.

    Read Gospel Principles chapter 34, “Developing Our Talents.”

  2. 2.

    Review lesson 19, “Developing Our Talents,” in this manual.

  3. 3.

    Prepare the poster suggested in the lesson, or write the information on the chalkboard.

  4. 4.

    Assign class members to present any stories, scriptures, or quotations you wish.