Section 7 has a great lesson on the human tendency that we have to compare ourselves with others. Section 7 is a vision Joseph has unlocking questions regarding John 21 where the Lord tells Peter and John about their future assignments. Peter asks Jesus about John and Jesus tells Peter to worry about Peter (see John 21:23).
Another illustration of this tendency we mortal have to compare ourselves is found in Matthew 20.
I will pay you a penny for your work- a penny= a denarius, or a day’s wage for a laborer, in 2010 dollars this would be somewhere in the range of $15-35 an hour depending on the type of labor and the skill involved. I used $20/hour for the purposes of illustration in the class. I ask: how many of you would work 12 hours for $20/hour? Every student agreed that this would be more than fair.
5- sixth hour=12 noon, 9th hour=3pm- they all end their labors at 6 pm
6-11th hour, it is 5pm. They make a penny for one hour of work. At six pm (the 12th hour), everyone receives their $240. Everyone gets paid the same! The people who worked all day got what they agreed to get, but they are upset. At first many students say that those who worked from 5-6 pm made more money. When questioned on this point, they then see that they made more per hour, but that everyone received $240. Everyone received exactly what they agreed to. At this point I asked if they could think of illustrations in their lives that were like this situation. Some came up with parallels in their lives regarding family circumstances or talents – my talents don’t measure up to another persons, or why do I have to work so hard to have skill with my talent and another person I know has the same or better skill with no or little effort?
Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? (Matt 20:15)
Why all of a sudden are they so upset? They are angry because the Lord was nice to someone else. We have a tendency to compare God’s goodness in other people’s lives to his goodness in our lives and we get upset and think that we are being shortchanged. We tend to think that God is not fair. Then we are mad at God. That is the tendency expressed in D&C 7, Matt 20 and John 21.
Then we think, “where is all of the goodness in my life?”
Section 7- The Lord says to Peter and John, “what do you want? Name what you want and you may have it.”
What does Peter say in verse 4? Peter is a little bit upset with John’s allotment. Why does John get this and I don’t? The funny thing is, Peter made his request.
Teenagers will come up with several. Some simple illustrations of this tendency involve appearance. How many youth have had times when they wish that they had another person’s appearance? Talents? Possessions?
“If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?”- Section 7:4
What are we saying when we complain? We are saying that He is messing up. Yet He is doing the best for us that will make us what we need to become. The Lord is doing marvelous things in your life.
The next time you complain, what is the answer? Your life is your best chance at exaltation… trust Him. He says to us, “I have wonderful things in store for you.”
If someone else’s life would give you a better chance at Celestial Glory, then God would have given it to you.
Great answer to our frustration when we complain about what we didn’t get-
Jacob 5:21-22, see also verse 47
But awhat could I have done more in my vineyard? Have I slackened mine hand, that I have not nourished it? Nay, I have nourished it, and I have digged about it, and I have pruned it, and I have dunged it; and I have bstretched forth mine chand almost all the day long, and the dend draweth nigh. And it grieveth me that I should hew down all the trees of my vineyard, and cast them into the fire that they should be burned. Who is it that has corrupted my vineyard? (Jacob 5:47)
The implication in this verse is that there is nothing more He could have done for his vineyard (us – we are the trees in this allegory). If there is something more the Lord could have done for us, He would do it. Your life and the circumstances and trials in your life are what you need, your best shot at becoming more like the Savior and entering into Celestial glory.
Second message– What was Peter’s wish?
Peter did not wish to stay on earth and preach the gospel. He wanted to live a good life, then go to the Celestial Kingdom.
If you want to live a good life and then go to the Celestial Kingdom, that is a good desire. What word does he use to describe John’s wish? John’s was a greater desire…
Do you want to be really happy? Stop focusing on yourself, and start focusing on others. This is the great secret of life. Very few teenagers understand this.
The parallel mirrors in the sealing room teach this truth- do you want to be successful and happy? Then get out of the way. This is a great lesson.
Much in life is determined by where our focus is. If we focus on what we don’t have or on what others have, we miss out on happiness all around us. This was a great message the Savior was delivering to me through his interactions with Peter.
The Terribly, Tragically Sad Man
Loren Seibold, as found in The Reader’s Digest
Once there was a boy who lived in a big house on a hill. He loved dogs and horses, sports cars and music. He climbed trees and went swimming, played football and admired pretty girls.
Except for having to pick up after himself, he had a nice life.
One day the boy said to God, “I’ve been thinking, and I know what I want when I become a man.”
“What?” asked God.
“I want to live in a big house with a porch across the front and two Saint Bernards and a garden out back. I want to marry a woman who is tall and very beautiful and kind, who has long, black hair and blue eyes, and who plays the guitar and sings in a clear, high voice.
“I want three strong sons to play football with. When they grow up, one will be a great scientist, one will
be a senator and the youngest will quarterback for the 49ers.
“I want to be an adventurer who sails vast oceans and climbs tall mountains and rescues people. And I want to drive a red Ferrari and never have to pick up after myself.”
“That sounds like a nice dream,” said God. “I want you to be happy.”
One day, playing football, the boy hurt his knee. After that he couldn’t climb tall mountains or even tall trees, much less sail vast oceans. So he studied marketing and started a medical-supplies business.
He married a girl who was very beautiful and very kind and who had long, black hair. But she was short, not tall, and had brown eyes, not blue. She couldn’t play the guitar, or even sing. But she prepared wonderful meals seasoned with rare Chinese spices and painted magnificent pictures of birds.
Because of his business, he lived in a city near the top of a tall apartment building that overlooked the blue ocean and the city’s twinkling lights. He didn’t have room for two Saint Bernards, but he had a fluffy cat.
He had three daughters, all very beautiful. The youngest, who was in a wheelchair, was the loveliest. The three daughters loved their father very much. They didn’t play football with him, but sometimes they went to the park and tossed a Fris-bee —except for the youngest, who sat under a tree strumming her guitar and singing lovely, haunting songs.
He made enough money to live comfortably, but he didn’t drive a red Ferrari. Sometimes he had to pick up things and put them away -even things that didn’t belong to him. After all, he had three daughters.
Then one morning the man awoke and remembered his dream. “I am very sad,” he said to his best friend.
“Why?” asked his friend.
“Because I once dreamed of marrying a tall woman with black hair and blue eyes who would play the guitar and sing. My wife can’t play the guitar or sing. She has brown eyes, and she’s not tall.”
“Your wife is beautiful and very kind,” said his friend. “She creates splendid pictures and delectable food.”
But the man wasn’t listening.
“I am very sad,” the man confessed to his wife one day. “Why?” asked his wife. “Because I once dreamed of living in a big house with a porch, and of having two Saint Bernards and a garden out back. Instead, I live in an apartment on the 47th floor.”
“Our apartment is comfortable, and we can see the ocean from our couch,” replied his wife. “We have
love, laughter and paintings of birds and a fluffy cat -not to mention three beautiful children.”
But the man wasn’t listening.
“I am very sad,” the man said to his therapist. “Why?” asked the therapist.
“Because I once dreamed that I would grow up to be a great adventurer. Instead, I’m a bald businessman with a bad knee.” “The medical supplies you sell have saved many lives,” said the therapist.
But the man wasn’t listening.
So his therapist charged him $110 and sent him home.
“I am very sad,” the man said to his accountant. “Why?” asked the accountant.
“Because I once dreamed of driving a red Ferrari and of never having to pick up after myself. Instead, I
take public transportation, and sometimes I still have to clean up.”
“You wear good suits. You eat at fine restaurants, and you’ve toured Europe,” said his accountant.
But the man wasn’t listening. His accountant charged him $100 anyway. He was dreaming of a red Ferrari himself.
“I am very sad,” the man said to his minister. “Why?” asked the minister.
“Because I once dreamed of having three sons; a great scientist, a politician and a quarterback. Instead,
I have three daughters, and the youngest can’t even walk.”
“But your daughters are beautiful and intelligent,” said the minister. “They love you very much, and they’ve all done well. One is a nurse, another is an artist and the youngest teaches music to children.”
But the man wasn’t listening.
He was so sad that he became very sick. He lay in a white hospital room surrounded by nurses in white uniforms. Tubes and wires connected his body to blinking machines that he had once sold to the hospital.
He was terribly, tragically sad. His family, friends and minister gathered around his bed. They were all deeply sad too. Only his therapist and his accountant remained happy.
Then one night, when everyone except the nurses had gone home, the man said to God, “Remember when I was a boy and I told you all the things I wanted?”
“It was a lovely dream,”said God.
“Why didn’t you give me those things?” asked the man.
“I could have,” said God. “But I wanted to surprise you with things you didn’t dream of.
“I suppose you’ve noticed what I’ve given you: a kind, beautiful wife; a good business; a nice place to live;
three lovely daughters -one of the best packages I’ve put together-”
“Yes,” interrupted the man. “But I thought you were going to give me what I really wanted.”
“And I thought you were going to give me what I really wanted,” said God.
“What did you want?” asked the man. It had never occurred to him that God was in want of anything.
“I wanted to make you happy with what I’d given you,” said God.
The man lay in the dark all night, thinking. Finally he decided to dream a new dream, one he wished he’d dreamed years before. He decided to dream that what he wanted most were the very things he already had.
And the man got well and lived happily on the 47th floor, enjoying his children’s beautiful voices, his wife’s deep brown eyes and her glorious paintings of birds. And at night he gazed at the ocean and contentedly watched the lights of the city twinkling on, one by one.