I wonder and I’m looking for a reference in the Doctrine of the Church, that when we choose not to obey, or use the gifts the Lord gives us, then he will remove that gift. I am thinking of Moses and the first set of commandments. Do you have a reference that the Lord does remove when we choose not to obey?
In addition to the event you mention (the children of Israel receiving the lesser law because they wouldn’t receive the higher law), there are several scriptures which speak of this principle. Perhaps the clearest is 2 Nephi 28:
30 For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.
And an example can be found in the parable of the talents. The servant who hid the one talent he was given lost all in the end:
28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
A friend of mine pointed out that this is a natural consequence, that unused skills are easily lost, while frequently used skills are improved and added to.
I have noticed in the workplace, that training will give a person knowledge, practice will give them skill, repetition will increase their efficiency, and then thoughtfulness will allow them to improve their skills and process. The opposite is also true: the employee who doesn’t think about what they’re doing, never improves it. The person who avoids performing tasks, never masters them. The person who doesn’t pay attention to their trainer, never develops skill. And the person who moves on to other tasks loses their efficiency, skill, and even knowledge, after sufficient time – and while retraining may be faster than the initial training, it is still needed to recover what was lost.
The spiritual side of this principle can be seen in the repetitive nature of our study and obedience. How often do we learn something new while reading the same scriptures we’ve read our whole lives? Maybe we’re searching for an answer, or maybe someone new in our lives phrases something differently and thereby sparks a new idea, or perhaps our experiences have simply prepared us for increased understanding. As we repeatedly put our learning into practice – almost always through service – do we not come to understand the doctrine even better than when we only read about it? By learning and making increased use of that which we already have, we prepare ourselves for more.
The opposite is even more obvious. A person taught the truth their whole life will forget that truth and lose their testimony fairly quickly after they start acting contrary to the truths they’ve learned. Fortunately, through repentance, the Lord enables us to learn again what we have forgotten, or to try again to put into practice the things we have learned.
I hope this helps you in your study of this principle, and that we all might be more like Abraham in seeking to increase our understanding and obedience:
2 And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.