I have been listening to "The Life and Teachings of Joseph Smith" on CD while I commute (I drive about 2 hours per day) and I have learned some very interesting and wonderful things about the first prophet of this dispensation. Today, I listened to the lecture on the law of consecration and it revealed to me how giving, how generous, and how loving the Prophet Joseph Smith was. Very often, he would give his last dollar to anyone who was in need, rendering himself penniless. How amazing. Does that ever happen today? We may give generously, but not to the point where it would really affect us and Joseph Smith did. The prophet could've been rich, but he lived most of his life in poor and humble circumstances because he knew the importance of giving what he had to those who were in need.
There was a story where church leadership (the prophet and apostles) wanted to buy a farm, but had no money to and the apostles wondered how they would pay for it. Joseph pulled out his purse and gave a dollar to each apostle, again leaving him penniless. He said something to the affect of "Now you have money and I have none. Some day you will have no money, and I will." Right before the close of the sale, a man offered to buy some land from the prophet giving him exactly the amount he needed to purchase this other farm ($500). Joseph turned to the apostles and said something like "You trusted in the money, I trusted in the Lord. Now I have money and you have none." That is very poignant, I think.
There were a couple anecdotes of other people who gave and gave all they could to help the Saints. One brother paid the debt on the unfinished Nauvoo temple, so the banks wouldn't take it adn the work could continue. This same brother spent much of his money helping 2,000-3,000 Saints get the basics they needed to cross the plains to Utah. What a difference this man's generosity made in the lives of those he gave to and to the building up of Zion.
The Law of Consecration did not work because people did not try their hardest to live it. The Saints did not follow the example of the Prophet. Some said Joseph took people's money for his own gain, but that was not the case. The prophet was poor his whole life because everything he received, he gave to the building up of Zion. I pray that I can better follow Joseph Smith's example and give more to those who need it. I know that if I do, the Lord will not leave me and my family wanting for anything we need as the prophet promised the same thing to those that did give in his lifetime.
I would encourage anyone to listen to these lectures. The ones on finance also relate to the lecture on the law of consecration, but there are many other great topics that are discussed in relation to how the prophet lived his life. They're very enlightening.
Tags: Law Of Consecration Joseph Smith Charity