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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Faith and Diligence

Alma's beautiful discourse on faith in Alma 32 invokes the metaphor of a seed that must be planted and cared for with diligence to grow a plant and reap the fruit of faith. There is much wisdom in this chapter which may be of help to those whose faith is faltering or weak.
[37] And behold, as the tree beginneth to grow, ye will say: Let us nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us. And now behold, if ye nourish it with much care it will get root, and grow up, and bring forth fruit.

[38] But if ye neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out.

[39] Now, this is not because the seed was not good, neither is it because the fruit thereof would not be desirable; but it is because your ground is barren, and ye will not nourish the tree, therefore ye cannot have the fruit thereof.

[40] And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life.

[41] But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.

[42] And because of your diligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst.

[43] Then, my brethren, ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you.
It is in living the Gospel and following the teachings of the Lord that we come to know for ourselves of their truthfulness and thereby obtain more sure testimonies. As Christ said, "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself" (John 7:17). Likewise, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31-32).

I have found that those who fulfill home teaching assignments seriously are more likely to have testimony-building spiritual experiences and witness the power of prayer and of the Priesthood. Those who seek the Lord's help in fulfilling Church callings of many kinds tend to witness little miracles that help them understand Who is behind this work of building up the Kingdom of God and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Those who make the sacrifice of paying tithing with faith tend to see the blessings of that divine principle and witness the hand of the Lord in their lives more than before. Faith precedes the miracle, but the most miraculous results are typically preceded by faith plus diligence.

8 comments:

Zera Pulsipher said...

A long the lines of this post i want to add a biblical passage.

James 1:22

"But be ye doers of the word,and not hearers only..."

Every time I read the verses you posted they literally reconfirm my testimony and remind me of the many "testings" of the word I have done and how the results have always been the same.

I just wanted to thanks you for nourishing my testimony in preparation for the sabbath tomorrow. Have a wonderful weekend Jeff.

Anonymous said...

I read this post before I went to the temple this morning and went with the desire to know that the Lord knows who I am. I have been faithful my whole life, am serving as YW president doing my very best at it, but I have always struggled, wanting a strong spiritual witness that these things are true and the Lord is aware of me. I went to the temple fasting and praying today, hoping for such a witness but none came. I tried so hard this time to do everything I could to receive a witness, to feel that the Lord loves me personally, and I feel like giving up. I don't know what else to do to have the Lord answer me.

Ryan said...

Anon:

I remember praying for a testimony before my mission and feeling like I wasn't getting anywhere for a long time. However, I started remembering all the little confirmations I had received over the years and eventually realized that they really did add up to quite a confirmation... not a bright, flashy, exciting confirmation, but not one I could deny, either.

Perhaps you might be able to remember one time the Lord worked in your life personally, even if it was something small? Then ask yourself why He might have done that thing (especially if it was small), and go from there.

~plaid said...

I always think of Jacob 5 in tandem with the verses you posted. I like to remind myself that the "nourishment" that we need is referred to as "dunging" there. I have had a whole lot of "dunging" in my life! I admit, though, that I have struggled a lot lately trying to reconcile all the wrestlings in my mind. I find it hard to hear the "sunday school answers" to life, because I feel like I apply those, and have applied those, and it doesn't make it all "better". So then people assert that I must not be *this* enough of *that* enough because it works for them. I also have a sensitivity lately to people suggesting that if I'm struggling, or not feeling all that happy with life, that it is because I'm choosing to be miserable. Take this month's Ensign article, for example, where I'm told that the difficult thoughts that go through my mind (like flashbacks to our children's crisis events, or concern about our other children) are choices and that if I would just choose to think differently then I wouldn't be weighed down with those thoughts. However, there is so much in the gospel about endurance, and opposition, and the whole idea of this life is to experience the contrast between good and not so good. And so why is it that it comes across that you are wrong, evil, bad, etc. if you actually happen to be human and not live in denial to the world that is not always the most uplifting happy place? It's the same idea with people saying you choose to take offense. Excuse me, but if someone is stepping on my toes, and then tells me that if it hurts it is because I am choosing to feel the pain, something in my head just thinks that's wrong. We are here and will feel pain sometimes. We will have heartaches, dissapointments, suffering. We will have reason to repent. We will have reason to mourn...

Better stop now. Don't know why I went off like that. Really, I just meant to put Jacob 5 in contrast.

Tony said...

I totally agree with you concerning the last paragraph Brother Lindsay. As I have served as a home teacher, I have been edified by the Spirit I feel in each members home and the hard work they do and faith they have even in times of difficulty. As I have had the blessing of ordaining a young man just recently to the office of deacon, I have felt the confirming witness of the Spirit that he did in fact have that authority given to him, and as a result of these and other seemingly small but powerful experiences along the way of my no more than a year and a half in this church, I have truly come to know the truthfullness of the Gospel and the love our Heavenly Father has for us. Thank you for posting this faith-building insight, and I hope you are doing well! I can't wait for General Conference :)

Anonymous said...

Dear, dear Sister Anonymous, 9:48 March 28,

Do you feel peace in the temple? Is there joy in your service? During Young Women, do you sense the potential in the girls and the ‘rightness’ of your call to lead them? Do you feel inspired in your callings, personal and within the church? Does sacred music lift your soul? Have you been comforted in times of loss or stress or fear? Have you been able to put transgressions behind you, knowing you are forgiven? Or, do you have a desire to do right, and have never committed grave transgressions?

Does your Patriarchal blessing bring a sense of being understood and loved? Are you drawn to the scriptures? Have other people shown up unexpectedly and met some need, physical, emotional, or spiritual, that your Heavenly Father knew you had? Have you been the angel who has met others' needs? Have you had sweet, quiet moments in prayer? Have specific verses of scripture spoken to your heart?

Elder Richard G Scott spoke to this topic in a wonderful conference talk, “Using the Supernal Gift of Prayer”, April 2007, find at Lds.org.

Spiritual experiences seem to be very different for different individuals. Perhaps God HAS answered you, but in a way different than anticipated. For many years I struggled to know that God was aware of me. It sounds funny, but I got that witness the day the zucchini didn’t burn. It totally should have burned. A small thing, saving my dinner, but I knew it was a tiny miracle and I know with certainty that God is mindful of me.

Despite that knowledge, I frequently yearn for a ‘report card’ from God, just a confirmation that I am doing OK and that my actions are pleasing to him. I don’t know I have ever gotten that feeling. Yet I can say that I have experienced what is described in the Doctrine & Covenants (6:23) “Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?”

Zera Pulsipher said...

@plaid

I just wanted to let you know that you aren't alone in those feelings at times i share them as well. Some things take more then effort to reconcile somethings just take time and even if someone is trying there very best and very hardest sometimes like you said its more about the enduring then the needing to do more.

I recently struggled quite a bit with the concept of God let alone the Church being true. I did a lot of praying that felt like talking to nobody in the end it came down to enduring. As time passed the effort was eclipsed simply by gaining an understanding of the issues at play.

With the choosing to take offense you are right as well as taking offense is not a sin. God takes offense to many things. Christ took offense to many things. We have to be careful what we allow to affect us and for how long we let something or someone offend, but offense can not only be just but even a godly emotion and attitude.

@ Anon 1
I just want you to know that your are not alone. We all have our struggles and our trials, and we all have our crisis of faith. They will come and go throughout our lives. I know though that if we endure through those times we will receive the witnesses we need. Not just once either, but every time.I truly hope and pray that the witness you need to continue to endure comes soon.

@ Jeff again thank you for this post.

titch said...

To anon please read Chapter 4 of Preach My Gospel which can be found here:

Preach My Gospel

Whilst studying please look back on your life and think about the times you have had similar experiences. Constant small confirmations are, to me anyway, better than one big event. Looking back I think you'll recognise that the Lord has been involved in your life many times.

Remember "unto whom much is given much is required", the Lord in His infinite wisdom is still preparing you. He knows whether you are really ready for the next step or not.

Whilst serving as a Branch President I was having my quarterly interview with the Stake President and he asked me how things were and I said that I thought that I was ready for the next challenge/thing (whatever that was - where I serve isn't important to me). At the end of the meeting he said that he hadn't had any promptings about releasing me and that I should expect to be in that calling for another 2 - 3 years. I then had to get my head round that and carry on, which I did with the Lord.

I wish you all the best and thanks for your service in YWs.

Cheers,

titch