Jared, His Brother, and Spiritual Gifts

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by Paul

This is the first in a series by our writers and guests regarding spiritual gifts. We hope you enjoy our take on giving and receiving spiritually this Christmas season.

At Christmastime our thoughts turn to gifts. As children, we think about what we may receive; as parents we think about what we can give to our children; and as children of our Father in Heaven, hopefully we think about what gifts He has given us.

Of course, the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States helps us to prime the gratitude pump as we count our blessings. But the real gifts of our Father are not limited to the physical things of this world: they are also the spiritual gifts that help us to find our way home to Him.

The Apostle Paul, Moroni, and the Lord Himself (through the prophet Joseph) catalog these gifts in 1 Corinthians, Moroni 10, and Doctrine and Covenants 46. Each of the lists is slightly different, but most of us can list at least some of them: knowing, believing, healing, tongues, administration, wisdom, prophecy, discernment, and charity.

When I review the catalog, I am regularly caught up by the early verses in each of the chapters:

For all have not every gift given unto them, for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God (D&C 46:11).

And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God.  And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them (Moroni 10:8).

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.  And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.  But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal (1 Corinthians 12:4-7).

Different people.  Different gifts.  Different operations.  All the gifts are there for the blessing of all.

We are encouraged to seek the gifts of the Spirit, and to identify them when they are at work in our lives: to bless ourselves and others with our gifts, and to be blessed by others with theirs.

There have been times in my life when I thought I needed all the gifts.  In my quest for spiritual self-reliance (and there is no such thing; I am forever reliant first on the Savior, but also, according to these chapters, on my fellow saints) I have sought to identify each gift at work in my life. And I’ve wondered in my hubris at others who did not do likewise.

This week I read about Jared and his brother again. This time it occurred to me that Jared got what I had missed earlier in my life. In the first chapter of Ether, we read,

And the brother of Jared being a large and mighty man, and a man highly favored of the Lord, Jared, his brother, said unto him: Cry unto the Lord, that he will not confound us that we may not understand our words.

I’ve always wondered why Jared didn’t just ask the Lord himself. He was, apparently, the older brother, since it is his genealogy that Ether records. I’ve often assumed that Jared was somehow less than his brother.

And yet it is Jared who is making specific requests of the Lord through his brother:  first not to confound their family’s language, then their friends’ language, and finally that if they be driven out of the land He will tell them, and he concludes, “And if it so be, let us be faithful unto the Lord, that we may receive it for our inheritance.”

Jared, it seems to me in this latest reading, understood something of his own spiritual gifts in relation to his brother’s. Jared was not unfaithful; indeed I believe it was his faithfulness that led him to seek his brother’s help in petitioning the Lord. He was willing to submit to whatever the Lord would have them do, but he also wanted his petition delivered in the best way possible.

Sometimes it is appropriate for us to acknowledge that our gift is to believe those who know rather than knowing ourselves. Sometimes it is appropriate to seek out one who can give a blessing of physical or emotional or spiritual healing. Sometimes it is appropriate to learn from another’s gift of wisdom which has likely been gained by a combination of divine revelation and experience.

I look at the catalog of spiritual gifts differently than I once did. In a set of scriptures from my mission, I actually highlighted certain gifts, identifying them as mine. In a later set, I wrote the question, “Which gifts are mine?” I now carry the question, “Which gifts are in evidence in my life now?” I am no longer convinced that these gifts are granted once and mine to hold forever. Instead, in my experience, they are granted by a loving Father in Heaven in a time of need. Some come directly to me at times, and some come through others when I need them most.

  • How do you see the influence of spiritual gifts in your life?

Image credits: JD Hancock, lds.org

About Paul

Paul was a convert to the church with his parents and siblings when he was a child, and therefore has the great blessing of having some of his formative years in the church while still remembering his family’s conversion experience. He is the father of seven and husband to his lovely wife. He served an LDS mission in Germany and has lived in Latin America and twice in Asia for his employer; now he lives with his lovely wife and youngest two children in the Midwestern US. Prior to earning his MBA, Paul also earned degrees in English and Theatre History. He also blogs at A Latter-day Voice (see the link below -- in "Our Authors Elsewhere" section at the bottom of the page) where he writes, as he does here, of his own experience as a Latter-day Saint. He does not speak for the church but will speak in favor of it.

7 Responses to Jared, His Brother, and Spiritual Gifts

  1. Bonnie says:

    I taught this lesson yesterday and despite the fact that there were about 6 different lessons we could have had from those first 6 chapters of Ether, after listening to Sacrament meeting, I felt that we should spend our time on this interesting interplay between Jared and his brother for the benefit of their people. One of the most startling things that we discussed (because someone else brought it out – that’s important) was that in 1:35, after Jared made the request of his brother and his brother prayed, “the Lord had compassion upon Jared.”

    I too have always wondered why Jared didn’t just pray, but from this verse and the following, it seems to me that he did. A part of our discussion focused on the fact that the brother of Jared may have been one of those people who gets clear, precise, detailed answers. I’m quite certain that Jared was a prayerful man, but his gifts seemed to be in administration and leadership, while his brother had gifts in spiritual communication with the Lord. The key was, we decided, that they used their gifts in harmony for the benefit of their people. Wow! Do we work with one another like that?

    • Heather Farrell says:

      I”ve also thought before that perhaps that even though Jared was the older brother it was his younger brother who was called of God to spiritually lead the people. God does that a lot in the scriptures– Joseph and his 12 brothers, Moses and Aaron, Joseph Smith and Hyrum. I think that it must take a really remarkable sort of older brother to support a younger brother as your leader, especially when by “right” it should be your responsibility to lead.

  2. Paul says:

    Great observation, Bonnie! I agree that there is a great lesson here for our working together for the common good. That’s what Paul taught us, too, when we wrote about the body’s needing every part — feet, hands, eyes, ears, etc. I have served in bishoprics that worked the way you describe Jared and his brother — a blend of organizational and “soft” skills that combined result in wonderful things.
    This perspective has also allowed me to consider others more charitably when they see things differently than I do; they may well be exercising gifts I do not have.

  3. Marsha Keller says:

    We too, different ward, different state. . . focused on that very same relationship. Spent 3/4 of the lesson time on it in fact. Perhaps there is much for us all to learn as a people right now in this. There are not all given every gift, but that doesn’t mean that every gift isn’t accessible to everyone.

    Some of the ideas were that perhaps Jared was the leader of the people, and MM was the spiritual leader. Examples of Aaron and Moses; Hyrum and Joseph; and others were shared.

    What touched me the most was the humility of Jared, and the interesting response that the LORD, though MM is the one who is asking, responds to Jared through his brother. Kind of like Nephi asking his Father where they ought to go to hunt. For me, I’ve felt the distinct nudge to stop trying to do EVERYTHING myself, and to ask. Ask for help, for blessings (a very rare occurrence in my life) for advice or just for someone to ‘pray for me’ (I don’t believe I’ve EVER asked that. . .) Anyway, thanks!

  4. Angie F says:

    I don’t think it is always pride that has us seeking the flashy gifts. Sometimes I think we are just trying to find where we fit in our spiritual community and we don’t necessarily understand the gifts we may have that need exercising at that point. I try to seek counsel in my patriarchal blessing both for identifying gifts as well as for identifying counsel for exercising and magnifying them. I love this discussion about Jared and his brother as it is important to remember that even our leaders are not meant to exercise all gifts solitarily and that we are all blessed when we call on others for help, to work together.

  5. Paul says:

    Angie, I agree that it’s not always pride that causes us to seek for gifts. In fact, Paul tells us to seek for them, even the best ones! But I note my own pride in my own past behavior; I don’t mean to accuse anyone else.

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