“Money in the lives of Latter-Day Saints should be used as a means of achieving eternal happiness…God will open the windows of heaven to us in these matters if we will but live close to Him and keep His commandments.” -Marvin J. Ashton
“Seek not for riches, but for wisdom; and behold, the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you, and then shall you be made rich. Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich.” -D&C 11:7
Prosperity is a natural result of seeking the kingdom of God and living the gospel. After acquiring wealth, it’s critical to continue using it for the right purposes. In other words, we invest our profits back into building the kingdom.
Eternal happiness is found through the things that money cannot buy, such as relationships, service, and keeping the commandments. Material prosperity certainly makes life more comfortable and enjoyable, but it is not a prerequisite to enter the celestial kingdom. It is a means to the end of salvation, and not an end in and of itself.
We should always be asking ourselves, “What are the things that will bring me eternal, rather than temporal, happiness?” Or, as Robert D. Hales put it, “Whenever we want to experience or possess something that will impact us and our resources, we may want to ask ourselves, ‘Is the benefit temporary, or will it have eternal value and significance?’”
Interestingly enough, we’ve never been happier as a family than when we were buried in financial trouble. We grew stronger and became wiser. We increased our faith in God. We learned thrift and discipline at levels that couldn’t have been achieved in any other way. We increased our production through trial and error. We shed pride and embraced humility. We became better people and our family has never been closer.
In short, we became more attuned to things of an eternal, rather than a temporal, nature. We’ve become much more compassionate toward others, and more inclined to serve.
This is a common phenomenon — the loss of temporal security leading to an increase in spiritual faith and discipline.
However, this does not mean that money is not desirable, or that prosperity is wrong. When gained righteously and managed appropriately, it can be a powerful tool that enables us to serve and bless the lives of others. Of course, we can’t buy our way into heaven. But we can use our money for good works.
This ideal teaches us how to stay on the strait and narrow path after we are blessed with wealth. It teaches us to keep money in its proper perspective and to become wise stewards.
“So often it is the order of things that is fundamental in the Lord’s instructions to us. The Lord is not telling us that we should not be prosperous. This would be inconsistent with the many records we have of Him blessing His people with prosperity. But He is telling us that we should seek prosperity only after we have sought and found Him. Then, because our hearts are right, because we love Him first and foremost, we will choose to invest the riches we obtain in building His kingdom.”
In other words, living this ideal leads to the “spiral” model of prosperity, where the more money we obtain the closer we get to heaven. This is opposed to the pride cycle, where we’re dragged down by inappropriate attitudes toward wealth.
When this ideal is lived consistently, proper perspective and wisdom can always be present and even deepened the richer we become. We don’t have to be “compelled to be humble” (see Alma 32: 16), as we were as we struggled with the consequences of pride and forgetfulness.
Through this ideal, we overcome addiction and “hunger and thirst after righteousness.”
“When we are addicted, we seek those worldly possessions or physical pleasures that seem to entice us. But as children of God, our deepest hunger and what we should be seeking is what the Lord alone can provide — His love, His sense of worth, His security, His confidence, His hope in the future, and assurance of His love, which brings us eternal joy. We must want, more than anything else, to do our Heavenly Father’s will and providently provide for ourselves and others.” -Robert D. Hales
The next ideal details the practicalities of how to use money to achieve eternal happiness.
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