This scripture describes a 'day of calling' and later a 'day of choosing'. Of course to be chosen we have to be worthy and if chosen and sanctified (meaning, 'set apart for special use or purpose' or dedicated to the Lord) we must be a 'chosen people'. It can be revealed to the prophet who the chosen are, but how do we merit being chosen? How do or would we know that we are or were chosen?
What does it mean to be Chosen vs being Called?
In my mind, I had always considered these two concepts to be fairly close in meaning. If the Lord 'called' you weren't you by definition also being 'chosen'? I had presumed that the calling and choosing were both being done by Him. However, this assumption does not agree with the assertion that 'many were called but few were to be chosen'. Why would He call so many but choose only a few? I thought further on just who might be responsible for doing the choosing. It struck me that perhaps the Lord does the calling but that we are responsible to respond by what we choose to do. This would explain why so many are called (all mankind, I suppose) and why so few are being chosen!
As Joshua put it, “choose you this day whom ye will serve; .. but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) We must choose to serve!
Elder Bednar (in Jul 2010) further clarified this subject in this way, saying: “To be or to become chosen is not an exclusive status conferred upon us. Rather you and I ultimately determine if we are chosen. [..]
“Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men (D&C 121:34-36) .. [he continues] “I believe the implication of these verses is quite straight forward. God does not have a list of favorites to which we must hope our names will someday be added. He does not limit the chosen to a restricted few. Rather, it is our hearts, and our aspirations, and our obedience, which definitively determine whether we are counted as one of God's chosen.”
In other words: “Behold, [..] many [are] called, but few [chose to obey]. And why [did] they not [respond righteously]? Because their hearts [were] set upon the things of this world, [because of things they choose to or not to do here .. and they] aspire to the honors of men, [they do] not learn this one lesson— That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.” Since God is righteous already, it follows that it is we who are learning to do what is right. We are to do the choosing!
In our most recent general conference (Apr 2014) Bro Ridd, Second Counsellor in the Young Men General Presidency, gave a talk in the Priesthood Session on this topic, saying: “you have probably heard before that you are a 'chosen generation,' meaning that God chose and prepared you to come to earth at this time for a great purpose. [He continues:] this evening I would like to address you as the 'choice generation' because never before in history have individuals been blessed with so many choices. More choices mean more opportunities; more opportunities mean more potential to do good and, unfortunately, evil. I believe that God sent you here at this time because He trusts you to successfully discern among the mind-boggling choices available [..] Ultimately, the choice is yours. You have agency. It is the power to not only act on your desires but also to refine, purify, and elevate your desires. Agency is your power to become. Each choice takes you closer to or further from what you are meant to become; [.. he concludes saying:] Always ask yourself, “Where will this choice lead?” Develop the ability to see beyond the moment.” In terms of the definitions above, I suppose that we are not really a 'chosen generation' (quite yet). We are a 'called generation' at the moment. We only show by what we choose to do here and now that we are a 'chosen generation'. We use our agency to do the choosing!
For Example ..
.. here is just one 'commandment' I personally have yet to master completely. How are you doing?
D&C 104:78 the Lord commands us: “And again, verily I say unto you, concerning your debts—behold it is my will that you shall pay all your debts.”
On this topic, President Brigham Young taught: “Pay your debts [.. and] do not run into debt any more.” “Be prompt in everything, and especially to pay your debts.” (Discourses, p. 303.)
In 1937 (in Conference Report, Apr. 1937, p. 26.), Elder J. Reuben Clark, Jr., (President of BYU) taught, “Let us avoid debt as we would avoid a plague; where we are now in debt let us get out of debt.” ...
In 1973 (in October 1973 General Conference, President Ezra Taft Benson, repeated that same commandment: “Let us avoid debt as we would avoid a plague; where we are now in debt, let us get out of debt; if not today, then tomorrow. ...free who is in financial bondage. “Think what you do when you run in debt,” said Benjamin Franklin, “you give to another power over your liberty.”
And in our day, Pres Thomas S Monson teaches (Apr 2006): “I wish to mention [a danger] which can crush our self-esteem, ruin relationships, and leave us in desperate circumstances. It is the [trap] of excessive debt.” “We live in a time when borrowing is easy. We can purchase almost anything we could ever want just by using a credit card or obtaining a loan.” “My brothers and sisters, avoid the philosophy that yesterday’s luxuries have become today’s necessities. They aren’t necessities unless we make them so.” [he continues] “I urge you to live within your means. One cannot spend more than one earns and remain solvent. I promise you that you will then be happier than you would be if you were constantly worrying about how to make the next payment on nonessential debt.” (D&C 19:35) “Pay the debt thou hast contracted. … Release thyself from bondage.”
Yet excessive debt is a common problem for many of us. How does it happen? We choose it. Very few of us fall suddenly into debt. But line upon line, precept upon precept, one small charge at a time, we inch our way into substantial debt. We choose it ourselves, and yet there is hope still:
D&C 104:80 “And inasmuch as you are diligent and humble, and exercise the prayer of faith, behold, I will soften the hearts of those to whom you are in debt, until I shall send means unto you for your deliverance.”
(Elder Franklin D. Richards) “In getting out of debt and staying out of debt, there are certain basic principles that we, as individuals and families, can apply, such as: 1) Living within our income. 2) Preparing and using budgets. 3) Regularly saving a part of our income. 4) Using credit wisely, if at all. And then, only for a modest home or necessary education.” “By following these simple, basic principles, it is possible to [live providently and to] get out of debt and [to] stay out of debt.”. We have been given agency to choose, whatever our current starting point, whether to live by these principles and improve our situation .. or not!
Choose to Obey
We could repeat this exercise for pretty much any “simple, basic gospel principle” .. Home Teaching, Food Storage, Family History, Missionary Service, and on and on ..
- “As our personal Savior and Redeemer, [Christ the Lord] invites us, one by one, with outstretched arms to 'come unto him'”. (Pingree Oct 2003)
- “To be or to become chosen is not an exclusive status conferred upon us. Rather you and I ultimately determine if we are chosen”. (Bednar Jul 2010).
- “Each choice takes [us] closer to or further from what [we] are meant to become;” “Agency is [our] power to become”. (Riggs Apr 2014)
We have been called. It is up to you and it is up to me .. to choose.
“Behold, many are called but few are chosen, and why are they not chosen?” .. because He does the calling but We do the choosing ..