The cart before the horse

LeGrand Richards

LeGrand Richards

This is a great story that could go with Alma 12:28-32. In these verses we read that commandments were given to man after the great Plan of Redemption was made known. I have always found it useful to teach commandments in their proper context. This avoids so much confusion!

A few weeks ago I attended a stake conference, and the stake president told me about two visits he had made to an adult member of the Aaronic Priesthood to try to induce him to quit his tobacco so that he might receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and be prepared to go to the house of the Lord with his family; and he said he had been unsuccessful. So I said to this stake president, “Did it ever occur to you that you might have been getting the cart before the horse, so to speak? If you would go to that man and teach him the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and he would become converted, you would not need to ask him to quit his tobacco.”

I think of the many, many homes into which I went in the mission field. I have in mind one now. The first night there, because we would not smoke with them, and we could not drink their coffee with them, the man said, “Well, I would never join your church.” Well, we did not discuss the Word of Wisdom any more for a few weeks, until we got him a little farther along. And when we got a little farther along, we did not have to ask him to lay away his coffee; it just happened. We did not have to ask him to quit his tobacco; it went out the window the same way.

I remember one man past his eighties, who had been in the government service, walking up and down the streets and lanes in Holland for years and years of his life, and all he had for a companion and friend was his cigars. He chewed them instead of smoking them. And when he heard the gospel and became converted, he laid them away; he used to chew a little licorice root to take the place of the cigars.

I never hear of men like the one the stake president referred to but what I think—if they were only converted to the truth, they would not have to be asked to quit their tobacco. I could not help thinking the other night when we had this demonstration of missionary work, if every member of the Church could see it and hear it, and all the youth of the Church, we would not have so much transgression.


Elder LeGrand Richards, Conference Report, April 1952, p. 114.

About LDS Scripture Teachings

I write about ways scripture applies in our lives:
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