(Continued from last week…)
Practice makes progress; Jesus makes perfect.
In our back yard, we have an apple tree. We’ve named her Eve. :) I prune her branches about once a year. My wife sprays her for bugs several times in the spring. But, the wonderful apples that show up on our beloved tree are not of our making.
We also have a glorious garden thanks to my wife’s parents. They love to garden! At the beginning of each growing season they come over and till the soil, mixing in fertilizer. We might join them in planting seeds and getting things ready. Then, after a little time, it happens. There springs up carrots, potatoes, onions, green beans, radishes, peppers, tomatoes, peas, cucumbers, squash, and rhubarb. We also tend the spreading grapevine growing along our back fence and every fall it brings forth more and more grapes. Additionally, we have strawberries and raspberries growing on the side of our house. We truly enjoy a bounty of produce. Of course we have to water all of this by means of the intricate watering system my father-in-law put in. But, just as our Savior did in Cana of Galilee 2000 years ago, Jesus turns our watering into wine. It is by His doing, His creation that we enjoy the miracle of these delicious fruits and vegetables.
Now, our developing godliness is very much like the work of a gardener or farmer. A farmer grows crops, but he doesn’t really grow them. God grows them. God gives the sun, the rain, and He has put the miracle in place where a peach seed can become a peach-bearing tree; corn seeds can become stalks of corn with ears. It’s God’s power that does all of this. However, man has his work…he cultivates, waters, fertilizes, weeds, etc. But we get the blessed results because of God’s miracle, not ours.
Do we, by our diligence, care for the seed that the Lord is growing in us? Do we, by our agency, diligently weed, and bring His living water to our growing plant? It’s His water, His sun-light of Christ. He prunes us and shapes us. But do we, by our choice, place ourselves in His care that He may do His miracle and make us “fruitful in every good work…Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power”? (Colossians 1: 10-11.)
Jesus is “the Lord of the harvest” (Alma 26: 7). He is “the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made” (D&C 88: 7). He is the giver of living water (John 4: 10). He is “the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning” (Mosiah 3: 8).
Jesus taught His disciples: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches…without me ye can do nothing” (John 15: 5-6).
It is Jesus who will make us fruitful…not we by ourselves!
GOD GIVES THE INCREASE
We can only “save” ourselves and others in physical, temporal ways, though it may affect us spiritually. We can participate in our own saving ordinances, or be proxy in performing necessary ordinances for the dead, but it is Christ who redeems us. We can preach doctrine, share testimony, attend and invite others to Spirit-filled gatherings, recite scriptures, etc., but it is God who must touch our spirits so that we will desire Him, and believe in Him, and trust Him. He gives us testimony. He makes us grow spiritually by His power, not ours. The Apostle Paul said: “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase” (1 Corinthians 3: 6-7).
Christ will grow us into a perfect person. He is the worker of this great miracle!
“And now…I desire that ye shall plant this word in your hearts, and as it beginneth to swell even so nourish it by your faith. And behold, it will become a tree, springing up in you unto everlasting life” (Alma 33: 23).
(to be continued…)