True spirituality helps us to achieve balance between being too content with our present self and the human tendency we might have of wishing for more significance or enlarged roles. Are there some Jethros in our lives to give us needed counsel? Do we have Jethros who can speak to us with that kind of loving directness and yet be received humbly by us? Does a sense of proportion and discernment govern our choices so that our Martha-like anxieties do not make the Mary-like choices less and less likely? Do we have both right conduct and right reasons for that conduct?
Are we so secure in our relationship with the Lord that our goodness will continue even when our goodness is not seen of men? When we are misunderstood, misquoted, or misused, do we still love and pray for those who despitefully use us? Can we truly remember that forgetting is a specific dimension of forgiving? Do we really help others to get reclassified? How recently have we reclassified someone? Are we truly ready to receive not only the repentant but the frail who have grown strong?
Do we trust the Lord enough to use seeming deprivation? To see opportunity within tragedy, as did Joseph anciently? Surely we, among all mankind, should be patient in seeming tragedy, trusting the Lord and doing our duties while things unfold. Are we growing in our patience?
In this connection I read from a sobering, sweet letter written by a gallant, modest young man now at BYU:. Most are pessimistic; however, I have failed to see how pessimism would help me make the best use of my time which is of an unknown length, not only for me, but for everyone.
I feel great and am truly enjoying the blessings that are coming from being married in the temple, studying the scriptures, working hard in school, and living each day rather than simply waiting to die as some would recommend. Therefore, we consider everything since then a great gift from the Lord. Let me speak of faith and of far more potential spirituality than we may realize we have. In spite of what the world declares, there is still only one way to find ourselves and that is by losing our lives for the sake of the Savior and the gospel.
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Parable of the Good Samaritan
The emptiest people I know are those in the world who are seeking selfish fulfillment! They will never find it on those terms. We must learn to rejoice in the many blessings we now have without brooding over those that are temporarily withheld from us.
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What we do not have must not be allowed to spoil what we do have. We need to remember that in the ecology of temptation, if we fall we usually do not fall alone. Likewise, if we resist temptation, we may thereby strengthen another unknowingly.
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In writing about the city of Enoch a few years ago, I had a character in the story say in a letter to a friend:. How often the weaknesses in one man become a temptation to another man! With regard to the matter of regular, personal improvement in our lives, if we lack an agendum, we need merely consult our conscience. We should not take on too many projects all at once, however, lest we fail in all of them.
Our success will increase our self-esteem and our capacity to love and to help others. We can be assured, however, when recalling how some other young disciples were tested in the fiery furnace years ago Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego , that the Lord did not let them pass through that test alone.
The Lord will not let us suffer alone but will be close to us as we pass through these soul-stretching experiences. How important it is to keep the precious perspective of the gospel! Said Malcolm Muggeridge:. For instance, success in all of its various guises; being known and being praised; ostensible pleasures, like acquiring money or seducing women, or travelling, going to and fro in the world and up and down in it like Satan, exploring and experiencing whatever Vanity Fair has to offer. How grateful we should be for the opportunity to learn while young what Muggeridge learned!
One day it will all be very clear to us; we will see the absurdity of some of our choices and wonder, again and again, why it was that, given the simpleness as well as the truthfulness of the gospel, so many refused to accept it. Or why some members did not stay with it. Ironically, the very simpleness and the easiness of the way causes some to refuse to look to God and live.
See 1 Ne. We must resist the caresses of the world, knowing that insofar as we are already resisting these caresses, these blandishments of Babylon, we are succeeding! The Lord is preparing a very particular people for very particular chores in the next and everlasting world. If this Christian life is just based on us giving it our best shot then we should just give up now because we cannot do it. Where is hope then? I believe that God allows us to come to the point of despairing of ourselves because until we utterly despair of our own ability we will continue to strive in the flesh.
How is this Christian life we are indeed called to live even possible? I believe we find the glorious answer in Colossians "Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:" What a wondrous, glorious reality that the secret of the Christian life is Christ IN us living the Christian life through us!
Now there is hope, because the Christian life no longer depends on my striving but rather on the life of Jesus Christ that dwells in me. In 1 Peter we read: "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
As believers in Jesus Christ we are made to partake of His very nature! God does not call us to just strive in our flesh to be like Him nor does He just give us power and then we take that power and overcome the sin in our lives. Without the reality of Christ in us this Christian life does not even make sense! I have seen from Scripture and also from my own experience that it is not about us trying but rather it is about us dying and Jesus Christ living His life through us.
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We read in Galatians "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. We have to realize that our problem is profoundly bigger then just the sinful things that we do the problem is who we are: we are sinners.
It is our very nature. Therefore the cross had to deal with more then just the sinful things I have done it also had to deal with me and my arrogant self that thought I could do so much for God in my own strength. On the cross not only did Jesus conquer death, hell, and the grave and He certainly did conquer those things but he also conquered me. Praise God! In Christ we died but it does not stop there.
In Christ we have been resurrected and it is no longer us who lives any more but Christ who lives in us. If I were to some up the Gospel in just four words they would be these: "yet not I, but Christ" Christ lives in us! This is the only way the Christian life is possible. I have my seen my best efforts at self improvement have led to disaster because it was not improvement God was looking for but rather it was a total overhaul.
God was not looking to improve me or make me a better person but rather He was wanting me to receive the reality of my death with Him that He might bring forth the glorious resurrection life of His Son through me. Now my hope is not in my best efforts to be a good Christian but rather my hope is set on my resurrected Lord who lives inside of me.
Jesus Prays in Gethsemane
Remember in Christ we died and this is good news because someone who is dead is free from sin. In John 15 we see that our relationship to the Lord is like that of a branch in a vine. The branch does not bear fruit by striving or trying but rather by simply resting in the vine and having the life of the vine flow through us.
The life of the branch is one of the branch continually receiving life from the vine and our life as believers is found by continually abiding in Christ who is our life. It not by striving or trying but rather abiding in the Vine.