And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you
If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us
We have considered how God asks to remember the good things that He has done for others, and also the good things that He has done for us. By reflecting on these we find the hope to do new good works. But this is not all. God does not only invite us to remember what has been done, but also to reflect on what will be done.
God makes promises for our future, blessings to be delivered “then,” if we will prove faithful “now.” And they are very rich promises as well. He assures that we will gain understanding, that we will receive what we seek, and that we will be forgiven of our sins. By remembering just the promise of these things we are encouraged to live in such a way that one day we are remembering the fulfillment of them instead.
And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.
Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
Do not procrastinate the day of your repentance, the night of darkness cometh wherein there can be no labor performed
Take therefore no thought for the morrow. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof
There is a great enemy to our making time for our God: our incredible ability to procrastinate. In fact it takes very little effort to convince us that we need more of God’s presence in our lives, but it is extremely difficult to convince us that we need it right now. Anytime I try to make more time for Him I feel a great hesitation, a preference to do it later.
I think part of the reason is that I know God will always be there for me. Any day, any hour, I can come to Him and He’ll receive me. But on the other hand, I have worldly relationships that might end, opportunities that I might lose, and fun that I might miss out on if I don’t make time for them immediately. So it becomes very easy to say “yes, I need you God…but let me take care of this other stuff first. I’ll get around to you tomorrow.”
But we have no direct, active control over tomorrow, do we? We only have direct, active access to the present. Think of it. In all the world and throughout all of history, the only time that anyone has ever made any kind of change…was in their right now. When I say that I will make time for God tomorrow, all I have really said is “I won’t make time for you now.” And if I won’t make time for Him now, tomorrow-me probably isn’t going to either. The only guarantee that any of us have is if we choose Him today.
I have just finished a study examining the need for opposites in our lives. There were one such opposite-paring that particularly stood out to me during my research: that of faith-and-fear. Essentially these two qualities describe how we view the unknown.
Faith is the hope of good things yet unrealized, whereas fear is the dread of bad things yet unrealized. While it might seem inconsequential whether we view the future in positive or negative light, the fact that it is the future means that we can influence and change it by our state-of-mind. Thus the faithful are more likely to bring about the future that they hoped for, and the fearful to bring about the future that they dreaded.
This is already very interesting, but I feel we are still only scratching the surface. For example while there is faith, there is also delusion. While there is fear, there is also preparation. I want to understand better where we draw the line between those. I want to know what the faith-filled life looks like, and how I can tell where I am on the faith-fear spectrum. Over the next few days I’ll dive into scriptural passages on these topics and we’ll see what lessons can be gleaned from them.
I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
Wherefore, if ye believe me, ye will labor while it is called today.
I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day.
Labor while it is called today.
Yesterday we examined how it is difficult for us to choose unpleasantness in the moment, even when we know a greater good will follow afterwards. I mentioned how our bodies are constrained by the “now.” They do not feel tomorrow or next week, they only feel this moment. Therefore asking a body to experience discomfort in “this moment” is hard, no matter what. It always will be.
However there is a salvation in the body’s state of constant immediacy as well. It is this finite-ness that makes us wary of procrastination. Note how the above scriptures appeal directly to the our physical, time-bound natures: work during today, don’t procrastinate until the night.
Think of it this way: any time your body complains about discomfort in the now it is reminding you that the “now” is all you have to work with. Whenever I commit to repenting “tomorrow,” it is my temporal body that calls me out for making an empty promise. It knows that I can’t do anything tomorrow, only right now.
We are confined to only having a finite amount of time in this earth life, and in that finite time we are confined to only having the present to do any work in. These limitations are blessings! If we had infinity to work with then the pull of procrastination might be undeniable. It would become so much harder, perhaps even impossible, to feel motivated to accomplish anything. “Don’t worry, I’ll do it next century. I promise.”
It is the fear of our time limits that gives us the power to overcome the fear of present discomfort.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.
The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.
Yesterday we discussed the phenomenon we see of enduring discomfort in the moment so that one might obtain a better reward later on. One example is exercising now so that we can feel healthier over time.
And yet we still struggle to endure even the momentary pain, and the reason why is captured in the two snippets above. Each of them is taken out of context to only show the pain and discomfort stages. Each of them sounds entirely unappealing once the promise of reward has been removed.
But this more limited perspective is the constant state of the body. In our minds and in our spirits we may know the promise of the future, but in our bodies we only feel the immediacy of right now. As Jesus observed “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)
And so I knew I needed to study for my tests in school, I knew that would result in better grades and a better future, but for right now I really wanted to play this new video game. Telling me that I could always play the game later wasn’t much help because I wasn’t concerned about having fun later, I was concerned about right now.
Denying oneself pleasure for the greater good seems to go against our nature, then. More accurately, it goes against one of our natures: the physical nature. But we also have a spiritual nature, and it maintains constant tension against the physical one. But this isn’t to say that the physical nature is all bad. Perhaps it produces the conundrum, but as we will see tomorrow, it also delivers us from it!