Choosing to Live the Word of Wisdom

On this day in 1833, the Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation that would become later become Doctrine and Covenants Section 89. Section 89 contains the Lord’s desire for us to take care of our physical and spiritual bodies and provides us with the Word of Wisdom to help in achieving this goal. The Word of Wisdom is the Lord’s law of health and contains commandments and guidelines for His children to live happy, healthy and spiritually receptive lives.

The Word of Wisdom has been interpreted by Church leaders to prohibit coffee, tea, tobacco, alcohol, non-prescribed drugs, and excessive consumption of meat. Additionally, the Word of Wisdom contains specific wording that urges followers of this commandment to live healthy and active lives. The Lord promises that if we follow this commandment we “shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones” and “find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures.”

In today’s world of ever-changing health trends and new scientific discoveries, it can be easy to feel some confusion about how to best stay healthy. We can easily find contradicting scientific evidence that certain substances that are prohibited in the Word of Wisdom have unique health benefits according to scientists and dietitians. However, in moments such as these, it is important to remember that the Word of Wisdom is not simply a health code, but it is a commandment from a loving Father in Heaven, and like all commandments, it is an opportunity to show our love and devotion to Him. Additionally, Apostles and Prophets have emphasized that living the Word of Wisdom often does more for us spiritually than physically. President Boyd K. Packer once said,

“I have come to know that a fundamental purpose of the Word of Wisdom has to do with revelation. From the time you are very little we teach you to avoid tea, coffee, liquor, tobacco, narcotics, and anything else that disturbs your health. And you know that we get very worried when we find one of you tampering with those things. If someone ‘under the influence’ can hardly listen to plain talk, how can they respond to spiritual prompting that touch their most delicate feelings? As valuable as the Word of Wisdom is as a law of health, it may be much more valuable to you spiritually than it is physically.” Boyd K. Packer, November 1979 Ensign.

The Word of Wisdom as well seeks to protect us from harmful addictions in all forms, whether they be things listed in the Word of Wisdom or any other type of behavior that can become harmful and addictive. President Russell M. Nelson stated in a past General Conference that we can be free from addictions by following the Word of Wisdom, and if we find ourselves in the grips of addiction, we can escape through the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. He then “wrote us a spiritual prescription” that includes six choices to set us free. These six choices are:

  1. Choose to Be Alive
  2. Choose to Believe
  3. Choose to Change
  4. Choose to Be Different
  5. Choose to Exercise
  6. Choose to Be Free

President Nelson and many other general authorities have promised blessings from following the Word of Wisdom, many of which come down to spiritual receptiveness. Our Father in Heaven gives us commandments to help us draw closer to Him, and following His commandments is never a one-way street. As we strive to follow the Word of Wisdom, we are promised that we’ll have greater access to the spirit of revelation, peace, and clarity in our daily lives.

What are some ways you have felt the blessings of living the Word of Wisdom in your life?

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About Devin Justesen

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Devin is a graduate of Brigham Young University where he studied English and Business Management. He is a writer, photographer, movie-fanatic, and a lover of street tacos. He served his mission in Tokyo, Japan.
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