Nephi declared the truth when he said, “…it is by (God’s) grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23)
The Lord told the Israelites to leave the land of Egypt, and they did. When they reached the Red Sea, the armies of Pharaoh overtook them. I imagine they were worried, wondering how they could escape from that army. They did not know it then, but the Lord already had everything prepared. When the proper time came, He simply said to Moses, “lift up thy rod” (Exodus 14:16); Moses did so and a passage of dry land appeared before them in the middle of the Red Sea through which the Israelites passed without losing a single person. They would never have been protected and saved in that way if they had not done what the Lord told them to do.
Since the beginning of time, man has been advised to earn his own livelihood and therefore be self-sufficient. When we come to understand that this principle is closely linked to freedom itself, it is easy to understand why the Lord places so much emphasis on self-reliance. “Let us realize that the privilege to work is a gift, that the power to work is a blessing, that love of work is success.” (David O. McKay, 1873 - 1970)
Self-sufficiency is not the goal, but is the means to achieve it. It is very possible that a person can be completely independent and yet lack all other desirable attributes. One can become rich and never ask for anything from anyone, but unless there is a spiritual goal parallel to this independence, this can undermine the soul.
Once there was a good brother who did not have a job. Everyone prayed and helped him look for a job so he could support his family. A week later he got a job working Monday to Friday. This allowed him to provide for his family and to attend church with them. However, a short time later he was offered a little more money to work on weekends. This good man, in order to earn a little more money, accepted the offer, such that little by little he stopped attending church and so did his family. After three months he was fired which meant that he was no longer working nor attending church. As leaders, we had focused on helping him to get a job but we forgot to prepare him spiritually so that he would be ready to reject temptation when it came.
Spiritual and temporal preparation go hand-in-hand on the road to self-sufficiency. As this year begins, let us follow the direction of the Area Vision to set goals in our lives. One of these goals should be what each of us will do to be more spiritually and temporarily self-reliant. “The welfare principles of the Church are not simply good ideas; they are revealed truths of God--they are His way of helping the needy.” (Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Liahona Nov. 2011)
When we strive to do our part on the road to self-reliance, we can be assured that we will not be alone. We will receive help, guidance, and consolation as our faith in Jesus Christ increases through establishing goals.
I know that Jesus Christ lives and is our Savior and Redeemer and, as we increase our faith in Him, we will feel His guidance through the Holy Spirit. Let us do the best we can to prepare ourselves spiritually and temporarily. Keep going forward on the path, seeking excellence in everything we do. I express my love for Jesus Christ and the wonderful power that comes from striving to be self-reliant in our lives. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, my Savior. Amen.