Choosing our reward

"It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.

"It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes." (Ps. 118:8-9.)

One who learned this lesson late was Cardinal Wolsey, who served long and faithfully under three English kings. In 1529, when he was unsuccessful in filling an order by his last king, Henry VIII, Wolsey was charged with high treason, deposed from his duties as the throne's chief adviser and imprisoned in the Tower of London. Instead of living out his final years amid praise and gratitude for his service, Wolsey was stripped of his honors, abandoned by the king he served and deserted by his friends. With his property confiscated and his noble name tarnished, he was left with nothing to show for his life's work.

Of this tragedy, William Shakespeare quoted the cardinal:

"Had I but served my God with half the zeal

"I served my king, he would not in mine age

"Have left me naked to mine enemies." (Henry VIII, Act 3.)

Many have learned Cardinal Wolsey's sad lesson: Honors that come from allegiances in mortal realms are fleeting favors compared with blessings that stem from adherence to God's eternal laws. Ultimately, we choose our reward.

While we are aware of this lesson, many of us still tend to pursue worldly acclamations and prizes, running the risk of losing our treasures in heaven.

If we are wise we will choose carefully to whom we give our allegiance, as did Nephi, who said: "O Lord, I have trusted in thee and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm." (2 Ne. 4:34.)

We should look heavenward. In His great Sermon on the Mount, the Savior said: "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

"But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matt. 6:19-21.)

The way to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven requires substantial effort and a clear focus. Gaining heavenly treasures requires labor not in the world's marketplace but in the Lord's kingdom. Such labor includes serving in His Church and among our fellowmen and obeying His commandments.

Also, we should gather about us those things that are truly precious. These are not stocks and bonds, or works of art and collectibles that might, in the short run of mortality, appreciate in monetary value but are worthless in the long run of the eternities. Included in this precious collection are a knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ and a testimony of Him and His works; such are without price.

If we truly hope to inherit treasures in heaven we must invest our precious gift of time to develop meaningful relationships, not for networking in the business or social arena for personal gain, but for building eternal bonds. Many have glimpsed the eternal blessings that come from the wise investment of time with their families. There is value also in making time for friends, not because they can help us advance our careers but because we love them for who they are - brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of Heavenly Father - and because we can help each other grow spiritually and return to the glorious home from whence we came.

Along the way, we may make a marvelous discovery: In the process of laying up for ourselves treasures in heaven, we also gain rewards on earth. It is possible for us to enjoy both temporal and spiritual blessings. The very acts that ensure joy in the eternities are the only ones by which we can gain true happiness in this life. The short-sightedness of the "natural man" might cause us to set our eyes on the prizes of the earth. Remembering who we are and our ultimate goal helps us focus on the blessings of eternal life.

How different Cardinal Wolsey's final days would have been if, earlier in life, he had discovered to whom he truly owed his allegiance. While there may be virtue and honor in serving nations and principalities, the rewards of this world are uncertain and temporary. The Lord is the only Sovereign in whom we can put all our trust. He will never betray us. If we keep His commandments, we can rely on Him to deliver all the blessings He has promised.

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed