I’ve always been fascinated by the scripture that states, “touch not the evil gift” ( Moroni 10:30). It seems to imply that the Devil gives gifts, just as the Lord does.
We know that the Lord gives gifts, both physical and spiritual, in fact, we are told to “covet earnestly the best gifts” (1 Corinthians 12:31) and to “lay hold upon every good gift” ( Moroni 10:30). There are many, many scriptures that touch on the Gifts of the Spirit, their importance in our work here on the earth, and the ability that is ours to reach out to Father in Heaven and literally ask for the gifts that we stand in need of.
George Q Cannon (First Counselor in the First Presidency from 1880 -1901) stated this about Spiritual gifts, and it is exquisite –
If any of us are imperfect, it is our duty to pray for the gift that will make us perfect. Have I imperfections? I am full of them. What is my duty? To pray to God to give me the gifts that will correct these imperfections … They are intended for this purpose. No man ought to say, “Oh, I cannot help this; it is my nature.” He is not justified in it, for [that reason] God has promised to give strength to correct these things and to give gifts that will eradicate them … (Nov. 26, 1893, Deseret Weekly 48:34-5).
The Lord has said in a revelation to the Church that the Saints should “seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given; for verily I say unto you, they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments” (Doctrine and Covenants 46:8-9). How many Latter-day Saints are there who supplicate the Lord for the gifts that they need? …
Every defect in the human character can be corrected through the exercise of faith and pleading with the Lord for the gifts that He has said He will give unto those who believe and obey His commandments (Oct. 1, 1896, Juvenile Instructor 31:572).
I’ve pondered these thoughts for a while, but recently had an experience which made all the ideas come together in a new and interesting way for me. I can be such a lazy woman at times. It’s terrible! Ugh, to admit it to you makes me shudder, but there it is. So, I’ve been asking in prayer to stop being lazy. But the laziness continued…
Then it occurred to me that instead of asking for something to be taken away, I should ask for a gift that would replace the bad habit. What’s the opposite of laziness? I began to ask for the gift of industry. It was amazing to see my focus shift, my will strengthen, and my desire and ability to do the mountain of tasks ahead of me, increase.
I began to think of the scripture (mentioned above), “touch not the evil gift.” Laziness, apathy, hatred, insecurity, sloth, etc. all are gifts that Satan is more than willing to give us. God, on the other hand, doesn’t even deal with those attributes – not even to take them away, as was my foolish prayer. He focuses on “the fruit of the Spirit … love, joy, peace, longsufferring, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” etc. (see Galatians 5:16 -23).
He’s told us to ask for “whatsoever thing [we] are in need of,” (there are too many references to this one – just look up the word “ask” in the scriptures and see how many times the Lord has asked us to ask, I make it 405 – give or take).
Our future, our ability, our capacity, our abundance is truly in our own hands as we decide which gifts we will accept and which we will ask for.