A geless wisdom about the eternal worth of heavenly treasures and the fleeting value of earthly wealth is preserved in a little book published in 1910.
Henry Van Dyke's The Mansion is about a successful businessman, John Weightman, who endowed hospitals, helped schools and fostered community enterprises, among many other benevolent deeds. His giving was substantial; however, it was almost always done to his advantage. He counseled his son, "Try to put your gifts where they can be identified and do good all around."One night John Weightman opened the Bible, and read: "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." (Matt. 6:19-21.)
The book seemed to float away from him. He then found himself in a strange place and joined a group of people walking to the Celestial City to take possession of their mansions. As each entered his or her abode, the businessman eagerly looked forward to seeing the mansion prepared for him. However, he was led to a small shack. Dismayed, he asked why his dwelling was so small and unattractive when he had contributed so much money to so many worthwhile causes.
A heavenly guide told him the rewards of those deeds had been given to him in the world, but did not belong to him in the heavenly realm. "We have saved and used everything that you sent us. This is the mansion prepared for you," the guide told him, pointing to the lowly hut.
John Weightman asked, "What is it that counts here?" The answer was simple: "Only that which is truly given. Only that good which is done for the love of doing it. Only those plans in which the welfare of others is the master thought. Only those labors in which the sacrifice is greater than the reward. Only those gifts in which the giver forgets himself. . . . Has there been nothing like that in your life?"
John Weightman answered: "Nothing. If there ever were such things, it must have been long ago - they were all crowded out - I have forgotten them."
The guide then replied: "These are the things that the King never forgets; and because there were a few of them in your life, you have a little place here." (Henry Van Dyke, The Mansion, copyright, 1910 and 1911, Harper & Brothers Publishers, New York and London; copyright, 1939, by Tertius Van Dyke.)
In the Book of Mormon we learn that this life is "a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of by us, which is after the resurrection of the dead." (Alma 12:24.)
What kind of treasures are we, in our probationary state, laying aside for our abode in that "endless state"?
The story by Van Dyke is just that - a story. It has a moral and serves a worthwhile purpose. In it we have one man's interpretation of heavenly realms.
There is a much better and more authoritative account of those realms. In Section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants is recorded the great vision of the future status of this earth's inhabitants. We sometimes refer to this as the vision of the three degrees of glory.
When we read this revelation, we might evaluate our own lives and ask what kind of abode awaits us. We find in Section 76 a guide that can help us through the mortal phase of our existence. Certainly, with the knowledge we gain by prayerfully reading and pondering the glorious account recorded in Section 76, we will want to set our sights on the highest degree of the celestial kingdom. This is what God, our Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, want and have planned for us. But, through their infinite wisdom, love, mercy and justice, we will inherit only what we have prepared ourselves to receive.
Elder Heber J. Grant shared these thoughts: "Upon our lives here is predicated the degree of perfection in which we shall rise. . . . A man will not awake on resurrection morning to find that all that he neglected to do in mortal life has been put to the credit side of his account and that the debit side of his ledger shows a clean page. That is not the teaching of the gospel.
" `Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the spirit shall of the spirit reap life everlasting.'
Gal. 6:78-8.T He whose every act has fitted him for the enjoyment of eternity will be far in advance of the man whose all has been centered on the things of this life." (Millennial Star 66:201, March 31, 1904.)