When life makes you choose!
"Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
The Values Hierarchy is a concept built around Good, Better, and Best, as well as Bad, Worse, and Worst. Not all values are the same. Not all sins are the same, and not all good deeds are the same.
A Values Hierarchy does NOT eliminate what is good, but not better, nor does it eliminate what is better for what is best.
When the lawyer asks Jesus "Master, which is the great commandment in the law?", Jesus responds not with a single answer to a singular question, but with an answer that includes an answer to a question that was not asked. By doing so, Jesus adds meaning to his answer by placing it at the top of a Values Hierarchy created by offering the "second greatest commandment". God is to be placed at the top, then our fellow men and women.
What are your values? This is a vague question. There is no context. A Values Hierarchy delineates each of our values and places them in order of "value." Like a totem pole. Values are not just one large bowl of Jello. This is the reality of our existence. "For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things." This is a phrase not just of duality but of all the shades of grey. "All things" tells us that a Values Hierarchy is necessary not just as a division of good and evil, but perhaps of everything in between.
Inherent in "valuing" something is a choice we make over something else. There must be something we value less even though it might also be good. The choice of lesser value is still of value and perhaps great importance. It may be that it shouldn't be forgotten or lost because of its lower status. But we choose something of greater value in its stead. This process of creating values can be instilled in us but in the end, it is "chosen" by us. We are all here in mortality to create our own Values Hierarchy. The gospel follows this pattern. For example, we have the Aaronic Priesthood which is good, and we have the Melchizedek Priesthood which is better. We do not remove the Aaronic Priesthood because we have the Melchizedek Priesthood because it is necessary. The gospel is not a "bumper sticker" made by choosing only one thing of importance with one level Values Hierarchy 2 of value. A Values Hierarchy does NOT eliminate what is good, but not better, nor does it eliminate what is better for what is best.
Plato thought that values, like justice, were eternal ideas, They are. Because our agency, an eternal gift, creates our values and our values create our being. They are eternal in the sense that they are immaterial yet determine who we are and who we are becoming.
A Values Hierarchy is what we create as we become like the Savior. A Values Hierarchy can change. It changes for the better as we are tested with choices between good and evil, or good and better. Or even, at times, the choice of the lesser of two evils. We construct a Values Hierarchy like that of the Savior in the same way that He created His, through sacrifice. We move the values on the totem pole up or down based on our trials and the sacrifice of our own will and carnal (prideful) desires. Notice, the values are created by our actions, not our words. We do not state our values, we "do" them.
One of many things that can change our Values Hierarchy for the worst by clouding our judgment is addiction. Addiction to alcohol, drugs, food, or pornography are all genuine, and their "trying" characteristic is moving our higher values down and our lower values up. This is why the Word of Wisdom, as an example, is so important. It is not just a health code as we usually frame it. It is a code to keep our minds clear and our judgment sound. Those who abuse the list above lose their values. The order on the totem pole of values is everything.
Another clear reference in the scriptures that falls under the Values Hierarchy is the first of the Ten Commandments, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Immediately in the Exodus out of Egypt, Jehovah put forth what was to be the highest value in the Values Hierarchy. Of course, like the lawyer's questions to Jesus, there is not just the One Commandment. Many things are "good". But some things are better than others.
A developed Values Hierarchy is a sign of wisdom, maturity, and willingness to sacrifice. It means you have gone through at least some of the trials of Abraham and Sarah, and you have made good choices. You've been tested, and if you have chosen wisely, "chosen."