25 And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?I always kind of wondered about this thing Jesus said. I thought, why would Jesus consider that adding a few feet to our height was easy to do? Why would he call it “that thing which is least”?
26 If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? (Luke 12:25-26)
Today I was pondering it and the Spirit pointed something out. Read the following verses that come right after the verses above:
27 Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.It seems that Christ was thinking of plants and what they do. A plant can grow and make flowers. Of those things a plant does, growing is certainly the least a plant can do. A human with powers of intellect and reasoning, whether he or she wants to or not, can’t decide to grow taller and then do it, as a plant does.
28 If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he provide for you, if ye are not of little faith? (Luke 12: 27-28, Joseph Smith Translation)
So Christ was trying to show that if the lilies can grow and flower through the providence of God and without working hard for it, then if we have faith, God will provide for us too.
However, when we accept this message, we suddenly find ourselves in a difficulty. What about work? We know we are supposed to work to become self-sufficient so that we don’t burden anybody.
A few verses before this, we get a hint that Christ was not telling us this about lilies to give us an excuse to loll about all day waiting for God to provide.
22 And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.This seems to tell us that there are more important things to think about than what we will eat and what we will wear. Going back to the plant metaphor, we know that plants grow and flower. But plants also bear fruit. Here is another plant parable Christ gave that elaborates on this point:
23 The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. (Luke 12:23)
6 He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.So it seems that the whole reason that God provides for us—represented by aerating the ground and fertilizing, according to this parable—is so that we can bear good fruit, which represents good works. These good works are something besides the work at our jobs, because jobs are a gift provided by God for meeting our needs. The context before the above parable shows that one particular type of work we should be doing is repentance:
7 Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?
8 And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:
9 And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down. (Luke 13:6-9)
4 …those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwell in Jerusalem?This combined with the parable shows us plainly that the clock is ticking and that while God is merciful and longsuffering, putting in as much effort as He can to call us to repentance through His servants, waiting for us to decide to repent, giving us time to get our lives in order, if there is no progress in the time period that He gives us (and the length is longer than most of us would probably set for ourselves), if we don’t respond, He will root us up. Why should we spend time speculating on how much time we have? We need to repent now! (And what better way to spend New Year’s Eve than by thinking about what we have done, trying to figure out what we have done wrong, and then praying to our Heavenly Father to forgive us through the sufferings of Christ. Then we will be more ready to make our New Year’s Resolutions.)
5 I tell you, Nay: but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. (Luke 13:4-5)
Another type of work that Christ wanted us to do was the following:
Therefore seek ye to bring forth the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Luke 12:31, Joseph Smith Translation)Since the time of New Years Resolutions is very near, I challenge you to decide on at least one thing you can do to get closer to God or to help build the kingdom of God. Here are some ideas:
Read the word of God a little each day
Go to church
Help at least one person each day
Teach a friend something about your beliefs
I want to work on my prayers this next year and make them more meaningful. I also want to be a little bit more frequent in my blog entries. (Of course, that means I will have to keep myself a fit temple for the Holy Spirit to dwell in to inspire me with ideas to write about.) I figure that improving my prayers will give me a means toward some of those other things on the list. Heavenly Father will answer my prayers to find people I can help and find opportunities to teach my friends something about my beliefs.
Happy New Year!
Image credit: "Orange Lilies", Gene Burch Photography, http://www.geneburch.com/gallery/v/Flowers/Orange_Lilies.jpg.html.