3 Nephi 13:25-34 — LeGrand Baker — “Consider the lilies of the field”

3 Nephi 13:25-34 
25 And now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words he looked upon the twelve whom he had chosen, and said unto them: Remember the words which I have spoken. For behold, ye are they whom I have chosen to minister unto this people. Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
26 Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin;
29 And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these.
30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, even so will he clothe you, if ye are not of little faith.
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32 For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.
34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient is the day unto the evil thereof.

In 3 Nephi those words are shown to have been spoken directly to the Twelve Disciples. In Matthew, however, even though a similar instruction is given in the same sequence in the Sermon on the Mount, there is no indication that it was not given to the entire congregation (Matthew 6:31-34). That has caused some interesting, and sometimes disturbing questions for Bible readers.

The language is very beautiful and the concept that God will look after us is very reassuring. However, the implications of “take no thought,” if it were carried too far and taken as a universal instruction to all members of the Church, would make it appear that the Savior was recommending a general slothfulness in one’s personal conduct and an irresponsibility in a man’s caring for his wife, children, and property.

Modern revelation solves that problem by teaching us that those words in the New Testament were also directed specifically to the Apostles.

The word “apostle” means “delegate or messenger” (Strong, 652) —which is appropriate to the Twelve Apostles whose responsibilities are to travel, teach, and keep the Church in order. The first Apostles of this dispensation were not ordained until somewhat later, February 15, 1835, but Doctrine and Covenants 84, which contains similar instructions, was given much earlier in September 22 and 23, 1832. Therefore, when Section 84 was given, the Lord used the word “apostle” in its generic sense to mean a traveling missionary. The revelation contains a wonderful commentary on the Savior’s instructions to missionaries as well as to the Twelve. He prefaced those instructions with these words:

62 Therefore, go ye into all the world; and unto whatsoever place ye cannot go ye shall send, that the testimony may go from you into all the world unto every creature.
63 And as I said unto mine apostles, even so I say unto you, for you are mine apostles, even God’s high priests; ye are they whom my Father hath given me; ye are my friends;
64 Therefore, as I said unto mine apostles I say unto you again, that every soul who believeth on your words, and is baptized by water for the remission of sins, shall receive the Holy Ghost (D&C 84:62-64).

Later on in that revelation, the Lord explained why it is not only acceptable but appropriate that one “take no thought of what he will eat or drink.” He said:

78 For I suffered them not to have purse or scrip, neither two coats.
79 Behold, I send you out to prove the world, and the laborer is worthy of his hire.
80 And any man that shall go and preach this gospel of the kingdom, and fail not to continue faithful in all things, shall not be weary in mind, neither darkened, neither in body, limb, nor joint; and a hair of his head shall not fall to the ground unnoticed. And they shall not go hungry, neither athirst.
81 Therefore, take ye no thought for the morrow, for what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, or wherewithal ye shall be clothed.
82 For, consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they toil not, neither do they spin; and the kingdoms of the world, in all their glory, are not arrayed like one of these.
83 For your Father, who is in heaven, knoweth that you have need of all these things.
84 Therefore, let the morrow take thought for the things of itself.
85 Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man.
……………………………..
107 Therefore, take with you those who are ordained unto the lesser priesthood, and send them before you to make appointments, and to prepare the way, and to fill appointments that you yourselves are not able to fill.
108 Behold, this is the way that mine apostles, in ancient days, built up my church unto me.
109 Therefore, let every man stand in his own office, and labor in his own calling; and let not the head say unto the feet it hath no need of the feet; for without the feet how shall the body be able to stand? (D&C 84:78-85, 107-109).

Notwithstanding that in 3 Nephi the promises are specific to the Twelve, and in the D&C they are specific to missionaries, the overriding principle that validates the promises is equally applicable to all of God’s children. Whether we read it in the scriptures or sing it in a hymn, the promise resinates with our souls as a reminder of covenants our Father in Heaven made with each of us a very, very long time ago:

28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin;
29 And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these.
30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, even so will he clothe you, if ye are not of little faith.

In their general application the promises made here are as comforting as they are beautiful, for God is aware of our individual needs and blesses us according to our faith.

The last verse of 3 Nephi 13 has a sentence that is a perfect conclusion to the Savior’s instructions to the Twelve, but if the words are taken out of that context, they are also very wise advise to all of us. That last sentence reads:

Sufficient is the day unto the evil thereof.

In that same context, D&C 84 says the same thing, but says it just a little differently:

83 For your Father, who is in heaven, knoweth that you have need of all these things.
84 Therefore, let the morrow take thought for the things of itself (D&C 84:84-85).

Each day is sufficient to take care of the problems of that day! While it would be absurd to read that to say we should not plan ahead for important things, it is equally absurd to suggest we should be so concerned with the weight of the future that it cripples us in our attempts to deal with the present. For example, in nothing is that more true than in the process of repentance. If we repent each day, then the weeks, months, and years will take care of themselves, and in time those problems will no longer exist—and then, but now from a position of strength, we will just have to focus on some other problem and repent of that one also !!

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