My beloved sisters, I pray that the Spirit of the Lord may be with me for the few minutes that I shall speak this morning and that I may have an interest in your faith and prayers.
We are now living in the midst of eternity, and we are enjoying those blessings to which we were entitled because of our faithfulness in the spirit world, and we are told that if we are true and faithful in this mortal existence, if we keep this, our second estate, that we will have glory added upon our heads forever and ever.15 Modern revelation tells us that the glory of God is intelligence,16 and that as God is now, man may become.17
Wherefore every one of us should heed these words of the Lord found in section 131 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which say: “Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.”18
Sisters, what do these words mean to us—mothers of Zion and officers in the Relief Society? Do they mean that those of us who may have had the opportunity of earning a college degree have thereby gained the advantage in the world to come, have earned sufficient knowledge and intelligence? Not as I read the scriptures. For if that were the case, then the Lord would have the learned men of the world as his chosen prophets.
There were many erudite scholars upon this land and in the world when the Lord gave that first glorious vision to that untutored lad of fourteen, Joseph Smith. You will remember that a few years later when the Prophet was translating the Book of Mormon, that Martin Harris was allowed to take a copy of part of the characters and the translation and show them to a learned man, Professor Anthon. You will recall the conclusion of that.19 In foretelling this incident in the Book of Mormon it says, “Then shall the Lord God say unto him [meaning Joseph Smith]: The learned shall not read them, for they have rejected them, and I am able to do my own work; wherefore thou shalt read the words which I shall give unto thee.”20
You will also recall that God hath taken the weak things of the earth to overcome those things which are mighty, wherefore I would conclude that a so-called higher education is not necessary for the gaining of knowledge and intelligence.
But if we are to travel the path of eternal progression we must be ever seeking and gaining knowledge and intelligence, for the Prophet Joseph said, “A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge,”21 and the Lord declares, “It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance.”22
Since, then, knowledge and intelligence are the doorway into eternal life, how zealous we here today should be as Relief Society officers to see that we are ever gaining knowledge and intelligence. Probably a devotion of all our free time to such a pursuit would not give us the advantage in the world to come without diligent study. Then, how careful we should be that we do not fritter away our time in unfruitful pursuits, but that we take our time in giving it to a devotion of studying knowledge and intelligence, thereby to gain it.
And how difficult it is as mothers for us to study. Not for us the ivory tower nor the secluded cloister. We must study while our family affairs proceed normally, with one interruption to care for a child, and another one to stir the pot on the fire, and a third to answer the doorbell or telephone. Then how necessary it is that we should choose the right things when we study. And what should we study? In section 88 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord gives us a list of some things which we should teach one another. It says, “And I give unto you a commandment that you shall teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom. Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand; of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms.”23
Sisters, do you see how closely the subject matter which we are studying in Relief Society parallels in part the words of the Lord as to what we should study? How grateful we should be as Relief Society members to have the opportunity to study these lessons which are approved by the Brethren. And what a responsibility is ours, those of us who are here in this building this morning, to see that we are overseeing and encouraging and exhorting the sisters to teach them diligently one to another. But sisters, all the diligent study in the world is not sufficient for us to gain knowledge and intelligence, for we are told not only to gain it through diligence, but through obedience. Obedience to what? Obedience to the commandments of God, and we will gain knowledge and intelligence in this way which can be gained in no other way. All the studying of academic learning in the world, and even the studying of righteous principles, won’t give us the advantage unless we are obedient to the commandments of God. We must be obedient. As Paul said, “And though … I understand … all knowledge … and have not charity, I am nothing.”24
And what are the commandments of God? Nearly two thousand years ago this same question was put to the Savior, who answered, you all know the answer: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”25
By obedience to these commandments, sisters, we will gain knowledge and intelligence.
Brigham Young said, “To live the gospel requires time, faith, the heart’s affections, and a great deal of labor.”26 Sisters, are you not gaining knowledge and intelligence through your labors in clothing the naked, preparing food for the hungry, nursing the sick, comforting the sorrowing, and pouring balm on the disconsolate heart? Is that not your great work in this Relief Society? Does not Relief Society then give you the opportunity, both through diligence and obedience, to earn knowledge and intelligence? The Lord knew the kind of an organization which was needed upon this earth to perfect his daughters. And what a responsibility is ours to see that every Latter-day Saint woman will be given this opportunity of gaining knowledge and intelligence. And the Lord is never in our debt. As we labor mightily for the good of our sisters, as we labor for the good of ourselves, he pours forth saving knowledge and intelligence on our heads.
Sisters, I would like to bear my testimony to the work of Relief Society. There is nothing except the work which we do in our own homes which will bring us the blessings we may gain through our devotion and laboring mightily for Relief Society. And it is my prayer that each one of us here will realize the twofold objectives in Relief Society which will give us knowledge and intelligence, and that each one here will go home with a determination to see that the lessons in Relief Society are taught diligently, and to see that all sisters are given the opportunity to labor mightily for the Lord and for our own saving knowledge and intelligence. And this I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.