I have been thinking lately of what our expectations ought to be - of what God expects of us, more accurately.
It seems to me that if we are blessed with healthy bodies and minds that we are put here not only to survive and be good, but to use those blessings and magnify them. We should be doing so by exercising our spiritual abilities, because that is where we can achieve our highest potential even in our temporal lives.
As we travel in our mission, we have been listening to the Journal of Discourses of Brigham Young as edited by John A. Widstoe. In several of his lectures, he points out that to God, nothing is temporal; all is spiritual to Him. It is a completely logical conclusion, of course. All we do should be balanced among the physical, mental and spiritual in order to achieve our highest potential.
In 2Nephi 9, we read of the dangers and consequences of becoming out of balance. Most of the 54 verses talk about the atonement and how we must qualify ourselves to receive the great blessings of the atonement by repenting. Jacob then makes this observation:
v. 27 But wo unto him that has the law given, yea, that has all the commandments of God, like unto us, and that transgresseth them, and that wasteth the days of his probation, for awful is his state!
Then he elaborates further:
v.28 O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. and they shall perish.
v. 29 But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.
He then goes on to say similar things about those who focus on their riches and don't listen to the counsels of God. Similarly, he points out the vanity of those who will not open their spiritual eyes and ears.
He concludes this line of thought with these verses:
v. 42 ...and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich who are puffed up because of their learning and their wisdom, and their riches -- yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them.
v. 43 But the things of the wise and the prudent shall be hid from them forever--yea, that happiness which is prepared for the saints.
Brigham Young states that even the atheist can receive the Holy Ghost as he or she devotes time and energy in efforts to accomplish things that will benefit mankind. What is missing is the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost that will allow that person to achieve the highest of their potential.
It also occurs to me that we cannot be lazy as to the things of this world and simply cloister ourselves only in what we consider to be spiritual matters. We have an obligation to expand our minds, exercise our bodies, care for our family members, and make a success of our financial situations, but with spiritual purpose. With proper balance, we can achieve more of our potential; more of God's expectations for each of us, individually.
We must not become prideful of whatever it is that we achieve, but we must not sell ourselves short by making excuses for our failure to try. Will we ever be totally in balance? Probably not, we have to make constant course corrections, but we are only expected to stay on the path. Perfection comes only through the grace of Christ, but we magnify our gifts as we exercise them with proper focus.