Once upon a time there was a man who was given a map, and was told that if he followed the instructions on this map, he would find treasure untold. Excited by the prospect of this treasure map, he set out one day to find the buried treasure.
The instructions on the map were many, and some were very difficult. One of the instructions conveniently directed him to a tree under which there was much shade. He was happy to see this instruction, for the day was hot, and he sat under the tree expectantly. After a while, another man came to the tree, enjoyed the shade momentarily, and then made to move off.
“Where are you going” said the first man? “I’m following the instructions in a treasure map” said the second. “But I’ve got the same map said the first, and the instructions say to come to this tree, under which there is nice shade”. “Ah”, said the second man, “Indeed this is nice, but there are more instructions on the map than just this one, and to reach the treasure, I must follow them all.”
The scriptures of God contain many instructions. But they cannot be cherry picked. This man can sit under the tree as long as he wishes, completely fulfilling one of the distinct instructions, but he will get no closer to his desired treasure than this. And because of the convenience of this particular instruction, it is easy to cling to it alone; justifying to himself that this was sufficient, for indeed it was instructed on the map.
Often as we discuss principles of religion on this blog, I seem to find this recurring theme. Someone will quote to a certain scripture, justifying a particular belief or behavior, but in doing so ignoring so many other scriptural instructions that must also be taken into consideration to paint the full picture.
Much like a large oil painting, when you stand up close to the picture, with your eyes mere inches from its canvass, all you see are brushstrokes. And while you can determine the color of each brush stroke, and it’s individual beauty, it’s not until you step back and consider the canvas as a whole that the true glory of the painting becomes clear. From this vantage point, each brush stroke is seen in context, in conjunction with all the rest, for a clear picture.
As we work daily to increase our understanding of the scriptures, may we more diligently step back and consider the work as a whole, and see each principle in its proper place, that we might more completely abandon the short-sightedness of mortality, in favor of the grand vista of divinity.