In the Book of Malachi,1 the Lord tells us, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
Many have done this, and they have received marvelous blessings. Others had placed their trust in the “arm of flesh,” and they have failed.
In the Book of Ether,2 Moroni teaches us, “. . . I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.”
In the Book of Moses,3 we learn a very important concept from Adam, “ And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why does thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.”
All these scriptures clearly state that we must first comply, and then the blessings will come. The key word is “faith,” especially faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
In his book, Faith Precedes the Miracle, President Spencer W. Kimball said, “We cannot expect to have the harvest before the planting, the reward before the service, the miracle before the faith.”
I would like to quote other marvelous scriptures that leave no doubt about the importance of faith.
Again I quote Moroni, who in the Book of Ether4 said the following, “For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith. And neither at any time hath any wrought miracles until after their faith; wherefore they first believed in the Son of God.”
In a revelation received by the Prophet Joseph Smith, we learn that “. . . Faith cometh not by signs, but signs follow those that believe.”5
We have special examples in the scriptures from men of God who exercised unconditional faith and, as a result, received magnificent blessings (See Genesis 22:1-18 and Nephi 3:7)
By faith, miracles are produced. This is essential in our daily lives to meet all the normal challenges of this life.
President Spencer W. Kimball said, “Indomitable faith can help us live the commandments with sincerity of heart and thereby bring blessings unnumbered with peace, perfection, and exaltation in the kingdom of God.”
In order to reach the highest peaks, those that will elevate us above the mediocre, the profane, and the worldly, we must have constant faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. In order to maintain our faith, we will, in many cases, need to run the second mile.
The easy interview or the difficult one
A member of the Church once related a conversation that he had with his bishop. They knew each other very well, and they were at the time having an interview for his temple recommend. The bishop found a good opportunity to teach a principle. He said, “Do you want the easy interview or the difficult one?” A bit surprised, the member said, “Let’s try the easy one first.”
The bishop proceeded with the normal interview, reviewing the commandments and his general faithfulness. At its conclusion, the member’s curiosity led him to ask what the difficult one was all about.
The bishop said to him, “I am going to ask some questions, but instead of answering them now, you should meditate upon them, and you can answer them in our next interview.”
Then the bishop asked him the following questions:
(I suggest that we meditate upon them.)
- When was the last time you helped another?
- When was the last time you did so anonymously?
- When was the last time you helped your enemy?
- What Christian qualities have you added to your character this last year?
- When was the last time that you said a personal, private prayer that lasted fifteen minutes or more?
- In what specific way have you improved your relationship with your spouse during this last year?
- What were the most significant personal experiences you have had with each one of your children recently?
- How often is the priesthood used in your home?
- Do you have feelings of jealousy or rancor toward anyone?
- Do you prepare worthily for the sacrament each Sunday?
- What acts of charity have you performed for persons less fortunate than you during this last month?
As this brother was leaving the office, the bishop commented: “Remember that the young rich man passed only the easy interview.”
We need faith in our Lord Jesus Christ in order to run the second mile, which He often asks us to do, and in order to make correct decisions, even though they might not favor us, but benefit others.
I testify that if we follow the teachings of our Master and of His servants, these miracles will be produced. Our lives will be productive. We will be instruments in His hands to help others, and this will all be a product of the faith that we have developed in Him.
Especially during this month, I pray that we may remember the Atonement, death, and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ, that we may meditate intensely about what our faith in Him may accomplish.
I pray that as we finish this probationary state we may exclaim as did Paul: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”6
It is my prayer that each day we may be more prepared to respond positively to the questions of the difficult interview, which will permit us to much better edify our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, knowing then that miracles will inevitably follow, even being able to sense with Paul that our crown of righteousness has been laid up.
1 Malachi 3:10
2 Ether 12:6
3 Moses 5:6
4 Ether 12: 12, 18.
5 D & C 63:9
6 2 Timothy 4:7-8