Last Sunday, the Elders’ Quorum instructor based his lesson on a talk by Elder Faust in which something like “exaltation is the greatest gift from God” was quoted and used throughout the lesson. Now leaving aside my never-ending concern with superlatives in the Church (i.e., What about agency? The atonement? The utilitarian in me can’t help but rank these higher than exaltation to the extent that quite a bit more people are affected), I have a more specific question:
How can something be a gift if there are so many prerequisites in order to obtain it? What is a gift?
Notwithstanding the enlightenment I was receiving from the lesson, I leaned over and asked the person next to me this very same question, to which he responded: “I think conditional opportunity can often be a gift.”
I couldn’t help but answer with, “Perhaps, but I still don’t think of my salary as a gift.”
He laughed and agreed, though we didn’t have time to discuss it further. A nice definition from our folks at dictionary.com is the following:
“Something that is bestowed voluntarily and without compensation.”
I use this definition because I think it clearly and concisely defines it (and conveniently agrees with my internal definition, though I realize there are other definitions, such as “talent,” but that’s not really what we’re talking about here). So, in my mind, there are two problems with exaltation being a gift:
1) The aforementioned conditions that must be met before it can be obtained.
2) Depending on how deeply we want to dive doctrinally, God may actually receive compensation when his children are exalted.
Of course, these are my own thoughts on the subject. I’m open to the idea that Elder Faust just used the wrong word and didn’t really say what he meant. But, as a good Mormon, I’m also open to the idea that there is some other cryptic definition of “gift” that doesn’t necessarily contradict the most common definition while still making a case for exaltation to be considered as such.