For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth … For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith
~Romans 1:17 ~
Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.
~ Alma 32:28 ~
Going forward with faith and purpose into this new year is challenging. There is still those anxieties and worries. However, we have learned that when we place our faith in God, through the infinite atonement of Jesus Christ, and by yielding ourselves over to the will of our Heavenly Father – we shall increase in faith.
And while we generally rely on the understanding that faith is the substance of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1); the Savior likened our faith to that of the grain of a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20). The spiritual application to this is that our faith needs to be planted, nurtured and cultivated, and as it grows – it will bear necessary fruit. Since we are dealing with spiritual application and symbolism here: the likening of faith to that of the grain of the mustard seed is this –
A small or seemingly insignificant thing that has the potential to grow or develop into something vast or formidable. Originating from the Parable of the Mustard Seed in the Bible (in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke), describing how the Christian faith spreads and flourishes from small beginnings.Free Dictionary – A Grain of Mustard Seed
Our faith starts out small and seems quite insignificant. Yet it has a powerful potential to grow and develop into something that is formidable. This is evidenced with the contrast that such faith can move mountains. In other words – as we cultivate our faith in Jesus Christ. Nurture it from its germination. Cultivate it as it grows and maintain its active growth. Our faith becomes powerful enough to influence and change the course of our lives.
Faith comes by Hearing
Elder D. Todd Christofferson teaches us this insight:
The first intimations of faith in Jesus Christ come by hearing the word of God—the gospel of Jesus Christ. When that teaching is given and received by the Holy Ghost, “the Spirit of truth” (see D&C 50:17–22), the seed of faith in Christ is planted. Paul taught this to the Romans when explaining that all may receive the gift of faith: “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). In other words, faith cometh by hearing the message that is the word, or gospel, of Christ.Building Faith in Christ – Ensign, September 2012
In the interpretation of the parable of the sower – Christ expounds to his disciples the meaning. The first is that regarding the seed that fell on the wayside and being snatched up quickly.
When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
~ Matthew 13:19, KJV ~
Sometimes, we may hear something. It may be an inspirational spark. However, it is quickly taken away by the cares and worries of this world. A person lacks understanding and not able to cultivate real faith. Their joy in life appears to be diminished quickly. And, hearing something is not the issue. Allowing it to take root is at issue. Our lack of understanding, faith, joy, and patience has no foundation and is easily snatched before it is able to secure itself within our hearts and minds.
The second part of the parable is where Christ expounds on the seed that fell into the stony places.
But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
~ Matthew 13:20-21 KJV ~
In the NASB, the word anon is changed to immediate. This is keeping with the Greek context. Here, the seed does take root. However, it is not able to fully root itself in the ground. Our faith may be immediate. Our joy may be even received with great enthusiasm. However, when life happens – we falter and become offended. Our faith and joy diminishes – so does our patience with God. We become easily offended and angered.
Selfish Pride and Ambition
The third part of the parable deals with those who appear to blossom and do well. They may appear to be quite successful. Yet, at what cost?
He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
~Matthew 13:22, KJV ~
Without a genuine and authentic relationship with our Heavenly Father – our faith is weakened and choked by the cares of this world. We prefer the accolades of men rather than submit with humility to a divine and providential God who shows us mercy and grace. We strive to prove ourselves to the world that we are something. There is great success – yes, but to what cost? How many have relied on deceitful tactics and manipulations to attain their status? Faith, Joy, and Patience are choked and the person has no fruit of righteousness, love, or compassion.
Genuine Faith, Patience, and Joy bear real fruit
The final aspect of the parable that Christ expounds upon is that of the seed falling on good ground.
But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
~ Matthew 13:23, KJV ~
Joy and patience come when we hear and understand. Through our trials, we bear real fruit of our faithfulness to God. We persevere and endure. Our faith grows and becomes a well-spring of blessings. Through our joy and patience – our faith strengthens us, and we become resilient. It is how we choose to respond in those times where we face our trials.
Faith Grows when we are patient and enduring trials
One thing I have learned is that when faced with difficult circumstances – there is a needed response. From the Christian perspective, our response is to be patient and rely on God’s divine and providential will. This is expressed numerous times throughout scripture. This does not mean we sit down and do nothing. It means we stand with a resolved intent and purpose in seeking God’s divine direction and counsel. Placing our concerns, worries, and anxieties on the alter. Consistently, and with contrition and humility, pray and meditate on what course of action we may need to take. Sometimes it calls for our faith to be tried when people mock us. Speak in vain toward us. Discourage us. Sometimes, it is dealing with the loss of employment, loved one, family pet, freedom, or even housing. Sometimes, it is dealing with getting older and health related issues that may come our way.
Whatever the circumstances are – we face trials every day. Our faith in God gives us the strength we need to withstand the storm. It is our faith in God’s divine and Sovereign grace and mercy that gives us the ability to be patient.
In her article at LDS Daily – 4 Practical Ways to Actually Develop Patience – Aleah Ingram shares this:
- Understand the root of our own impatience
- Delay the need for instant gratification
- Ask what the purpose in waiting on God is for
- Look for those blessings by showing gratitude
At the October 2006 General Conference, Robert C. Oaks shared a message on the power of patience.
Patience may well be thought of as a gateway virtue, contributing to the growth and strength of its fellow virtues of forgiveness, tolerance, and faith.Robert C. Oaks – October 2006 General Conference Speech
Patience undermines our need for instant gratification. However, we live in a society filled with instant messaging services, instant photos, social media, accessible and instant information through the internet. Growing up, one either had to wait until they got home to make or receive a call. Wait for the letter to come in the mail. Wait for the daily newspaper to be tossed onto the front porch. Or wait until one got home to watch the evening news.
What I have learned is this: I had to get my heart and mind right with God. See, I was operating under a profession of faith. Meaning, I believed in God. However, as with the parable of the sower, my faith dwindled with the cares of this world. My faith was snatched up right away before it could ever take root. And, there were times when my faith did take root, however, it was shallow and became scorched and not able to bear any fruit. Today, I do my best to faithfully rely on God in all that I do. Unfortunately, I still struggle with pride and ego. The antidote to this spiritual dilemma is understanding what it means to live a more mindful and spiritual life within the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I had to get my heart and mind right with God. See, I was operating under a profession of faith. Meaning, I believed in God. However, as with the parable of the sower, my faith dwindled with the cares of this world.Tweet
The stripping away of pride and ego also meant dissolving unrealistic expectations on God, others, and myself. It meant that I had to become completely emptied out and cleansed in order to be filled with newness and hope.
Faith Grows as we Repent and Seek Forgiveness
Elder Christofferson also shares this insight regarding how our faith grows:
Repentance plays a prominent role in building faith in Christ. Receiving the word of Christ generates the faith needed for repentance, and repentance, in turn, nourishes a growing faith. Mormon declares, “And [Christ] hath said: Repent all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, and have faith in me, that ye may be saved” (Moroni 7:34).
This does not mean that we grow in faith, through repentance, by making a spiritual checklist. True, authentic, and meaningful repentance is established on Jesus Christ and the infinite atonement. And it stems from a genuine faith in what the infinite atonement has the power to do – cleanses us and purifies us from all unrighteousness:
Indeed, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the first principle of the gospel and repentance as the second, along with all other principles and ordinances of the gospel, have their foundation in the Savior’s atoning sacrifice. Truly, then, repentance stems only from faith in the redemptive and cleansing power of the blood of the Lamb of God. Elder Orson Pratt taught, “The first effect of true faith is a sincere, true, and thorough repentance of all sins. Faith is the starting point—the foundation and cause of our repentance.”Faith Unto Repentance – Brent L. Trop Book of Mormon Treasury
Trop continues with this insight:
True repentance that leads to confession is, as Paul said, born of a “godly sorrow” (see 2 Corinthians 7:9–10). Godly sorrow is the indicator of true faith in Christ and the only genuine motivation for bringing forth “fruit meet for repentance” (Alma 12:15). The Book of Mormon describes the attitude of “godly sorrow” as “a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (2 Nephi 2:7; see also 3 Nephi 9:19–20; 3 Nephi 12:19; Ether 4:15; Moroni 6:2). Both terms can be used interchangeably in describing the concept of God’s sorrow—feeling the sorrow for our sins that God would have us feel in order to bring about our repentance and submission to His will.
He further shares:
Godly sorrow—the broken heart and contrite spirit—is much more than remorse or regret over having sinned. Mormon observed anguish in his own people and described it as “the sorrowing of the damned” (Mormon 2:12–14). It was a sorrow born of sins and circumstances that did not produce “faith unto repentance.” Many may be remorseful for past actions and regret the consequences that have befallen them but do nothing to change, to come unto Christ and partake of His mercy and to comply with the requirements of the gospel. A “broken heart and contrite spirit” is an attitude that always leads to a commitment to change. Alma spoke of this kind of motivational sorrow for sin when he declared to Corianton, “Let your sins trouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance” (Alma 42:29). “The sorrow that is acceptable in the sight of God, is that which leads to true repentance, or reformation of conduct,” wrote Elder Orson Pratt. “This kind of sorrow will lead us to obey every commandment of God; it will make us humble and childlike in our dispositions; it will impart unto us meekness and lowliness of mind; it will cause our hearts to be broken and our spirits to be contrite; it will cause us to watch, with great carefulness, every word, thought, and deed; it will call up our past dealings with mankind, and we will feel most anxious to make restitution to all whom we may have, in any way, injured . . . these and many other good things are the results of a Godly sorrow for sin. This is repentance not in word, but in deed: this is the sorrow with which the heavens are pleased.”
As we go forward in faith and purpose – we seek genuine forgiveness through Godly sorrow as we work through the process of repentance. For the Children of Israel – a journey of 11 days took them 40 years before they were able to enter into the promised land. This was due to their lack of faith in God as they feared the natural and temporal and had forgotten to place their faith and trust in God. Sometimes, we are like the Children of Israel – wandering in our own deserts and wilderness simply because we have doubted our Heavenly Father. We have forsaken the promises he made through the covenants we have entered into with him. In doing so, we stifled our faith and allowed ourselves to become vulnerable and weak. And it sometimes takes us a long while to walk the path of repentance and forgiveness.
As we consider going forward with faith and purpose – let us consider the reality that our faith grows and is cultivated by our willingness to yield ourselves over to God. The scripture promises that the good work our Heavenly Father has started, through Jesus Christ, will grow exponentially and be complete (Philippians 1:6)
Our faith in Christ may start out as something seemingly insignificant. Yet it possesses the power to grow and be cultivated into something that influences our lives and the life of those around is. It grows through our yielding to the will of God, repenting and forsaking of our sins. It grows through trials and temptations. It increases as we make and keep those covenants with our Heavenly Father. Ultimately, our faith grows in order to bear the fruits of righteousness – making us complete and whole in Christ.
Meditate and Ponder
What does it mean to go forward with faith and purpose where our faith has the potential to increase, grow, and bear much fruit? What are the struggles you are facing where your faith has become weak and vulnerable? Is there a need to confess and repent of sins? Is there a need to be proactive and no longer be worried and anxious by the cares of this world? What is stifling and choking out your faith in God?