In performing the righteous works of God “there are no spiritual shortcuts or quick fixes,” said Elder David A. Bednar, who called for wisdom in using contemporary technological tools like artificial intelligence.
“Innovations such as artificial intelligence have the potential to both (1) assist you in receiving magnificent blessings and (2) diminish and suffocate your moral agency,” said the member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on Tuesday, January 23, 2024, during a devotional at Brigham Young University.
“Please do not allow the supposed accuracy, speed and ease of modern technologies to entice you to avoid or circumvent the righteous work that invites into your life the blessings you will need,” he said.
To clarify the meaning and importance of the “work” or “works” of God, Elder Bednar shared several examples and various uses and meanings of the word “work” and its derivatives from the more than 1,100 instances found in the English scriptures.
Sometimes the word “work” in the scriptures describes actions and activities to do or to make something; other times it refers to God’s purpose or a goal to accomplish, he said. He then discussed four ways work is vital to the individual spiritual progress of God’s children.
1. God’s Work Helps Us Progress
“God’s work is focused upon the progression and exaltation of His children [see Moses 1:39]. Our work as God’s sons and daughters is to love Him and keep His commandments [see Doctrine and Covenants 11:20],” he said.
God’s work is more than his limitless creations on earth and in the heavens; “every facet of God’s work is designed to develop and bless His sons and daughters,” Elder said.
“Our particular ability to work and create is significant spiritually precisely because it is central to the Father’s plan and constitutes one of the ultimate expressions of our divine potential,” he said.
2. As We Do His Work, We Learn of and Become More Like Him
Work helps us learn, Elder Bednar taught, and as Latter-day Saints and disciples of Christ, we are called to assist with God’s work. God-given agency allows us to act for ourselves. And every act of selfless service helps us learn of and become closer to and more like God, Elder Bednar taught.
“Work is love made manifest,” he said. Doing God’s work through His inspiration changes our hearts and minds and sanctifies us.
“As we each labor in mortality to accomplish God’s purposes, we are prepared for eternal blessings. We literally are the wondrous works of God’s marvelous work — the very reasons for His Eternal plan and for the infinite and eternal atoning sacrifice of His Only Begotten Son,” he said.
3. Our Faith in Christ Leads Us to Righteous Actions
Faith in Christ is a principle of action and power in all intelligent beings, Elder Bednar said.
Having faith in Christ means we exercise our agency to “act and follow Him, live His teachings, keep His commandments, bind ourselves to Him through covenants, trust in His promises, and meekly accept His will and timing in our lives.”
Elder Bednar said this principle of action and of power “suggests an ongoing pattern of spiritual work that is a fundamental expression of reliance upon and trust in Him and a source of learning and growth. For these reasons, work is essential for our spiritual progression.”
Procrastinating or being idle, lazy, slothful, fearful and apathetic are the opposites of true faith in Christ, which leads to righteous actions, he said.
“Faithful disciples of Christ are workers ‘anxiously engaged’ in a good cause, and do[ing] many things of their own free will, and bring[ing] to pass much righteousness;
“For the power is in them wherein they are agents unto themselves” (Doctrine and Covenants 58:27–28).
To learn what God wants us to know and become, we need to “press forward” and act instead of just waiting for something good to happen, he said.
4. Work Helps Us Acknowledge and Appreciate Our Dependence Upon God
“Our limited mortal capacity is completely insufficient to ever realize our eternal possibilities; we need and depend upon the grace, strength, inspiration and means that only the Lord can provide,” Elder Bednar explained.
We cannot accomplish God’s work by ourselves, he said. But Latter-day Saints who are performing their duties are “entitled to supernatural aid from the Holy Spirit.”
King Benjamin’s teachings in Mosiah 4:19 in the Book of Mormon remind us we are all beggars, dependent on God for all our substance. “Thus, work helps us to ‘confess … his hand in all things’ (Doctrine and Covenants 59:21) and ‘live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which [God] doth bestow upon [us]’” (Alma 34:38).
An Invitation and a Promise
Ongoing conversion, becoming a devoted disciple, personal revelation and seeking appropriate spiritual gifts all require “focused and sustained work,” Elder Bednar said. We don’t earn these blessings solely through our individual works, he taught, but through God’s will, timing and tender mercies.
Prayerfully “consider the wondrous works of God,” he invited, and “study, ponder, and apply in your life the magnificent exhortation by the Prophet Joseph Smith: ‘Shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, … and on … to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad’” (Doctrine and Covenants 128:22).
In conclusion, Elder Bednar promised those who respond in faith to his invitation “will be blessed with eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to understand your place in and roles as the ‘wondrous works of God’ (Job 27:14) in this latter-day marvelous work and a wonder.”