Take Time for Your Family History

The importance of family history work


We all live very busy lives. But we all make choices about how we spend our time. In the March, 1978 Ensign magazine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Neil J. Flinders wrote an article entitled, "How Can We Make the Best Decisions?" He began his article with this analogy:


How much does a $20 pair of shoes cost? Perhaps the question sounds foolish. "The answer is obvious," one might say. "A $20 pair of shoes costs $20." Certainly that is one answer to the question. A $20 pair of shoes does cost $20 if you agree that the price includes taxes, travel to and from the store, and so forth. But there is another answer to the question when it is considered in a more inclusive framework than people usually use when buying a pair of shoes. This framework is closely related to a basic principle within the gospel of Jesus Christ. The second answer goes something like this:


A $20 pair of shoes costs $20 plus everything else one might have purchased with that $20 if he hadn't spent it for shoes. In other words, the shoes cost one the opportunity to spend that amount for something else. This principle is sometimes referred to as the "law of opportunity costs." It is often used by economists to help them choose the wisest way to invest the funds they manage.


This is another way of expressing the Law of the Harvest: we reap what we sow. How many times during a week do we make decisions to do things that are unproductive in an eternal sense? Brother Flinders concludes his article with this observation:


Day by day, man makes his choices and spends his time, his energy, and his resources. As Latter-day Saints we have the fulness of the gospel to guide us in our decision-making. The covenants we enter into are designed to help us make commitments, a step at a time, to spend our time, energy, and resources for the benefit of the Lord's purposes. This costs us the opportunity of spending such time, energy, and resources on Satan and his program.

Thankfully, these wise expenditures have their consequences.


Members of the Church have many opportunities to serve and do good. One of those important opportunities is to do the work of salvation for our kindred dead. According to the Prophet Joseph Smith, "The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead" (History of the Church, 6:313). If this is our greatest responsibility, why do we find it so hard to make time to fulfill that responsibility?


President Spencer W. Kimball said: "Some of us have had occasion to wait for someone or something for a minute, an hour, a day, a week, or even a year. Can you imagine how our progenitors must feel, some of whom have perhaps been waiting for decades and even centuries for the temple work to be done for them?" ("The Things of Eternity - Stand We in Jeopardy?" Ensign, Jan. 1977, p. 7.) Perhaps we should think of them as we make our plans for the days and weeks ahead. What will we do to end their patient (and maybe not so patient) waiting for us to shoulder our responsibility to do the work for our kindred dead?


Written by James L. Tanner. Used with permission.


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