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Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Gulf Between Mediocre and Good

Once someone made the mistake of calling Jesus "good." He swiftly replied, "why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God." (Mark 10:18) God is incredible. Jesus refused to be described with the same language as his Father. How much more should we refuse to be described as "good"?

Nevertheless, dust of the earth as we may be, we are not given this life to be mediocre. I would like to bring attention to the vast gulf between the two descriptors, which is a place we ought to find ourselves in. You may be surprised when you stop to think of how we end up there.

If you need a refreshing on the state of the natural man, consider the following:

1 And thus we can behold how false, and also the unsteadiness of the hearts of the children of men; yea, we can see that the Lord in his great infinite goodness doth bless and prosper those who put their trust in him.
 2 Yea, and we may see at the very time when he doth prosper his people, yea, in the increase of their fields, their flocks and their herds, and in gold, and in silver, and in all manner of precious things of every kind and art; sparing their lives, and delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; softening the hearts of their enemies that they should not declare wars against them; yea, and in fine, doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One—yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity.
 3 And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him.
 4 O how foolish, and how vain, and how evil, and devilish, and how quick to do iniquity, and how slow to do good, are the children of men; yea, how quick to hearken unto the words of the evil one, and to set their hearts upon the vain things of the world!
 5 Yea, how quick to be lifted up in pride; yea, how quick to boast, and do all manner of that which is iniquity; and how slow are they to remember the Lord their God, and to give ear unto his counsels, yea, how slow to walk in wisdom’s paths!
 6 Behold, they do not desire that the Lord their God, who hath created them, should rule and reign over them; notwithstanding his great goodness and his mercy towards them, they do set at naught his counsels, and they will not that he should be their guide.
 7 O how great is the nothingness of the children of men; yea, even they are less than the dust of the earth.
 8 For behold, the dust of the earth moveth hither and thither, to the dividing asunder, at the command of our great and everlasting God.
 9 Yea, behold at his voice do the hills and the mountains tremble and quake.
 10 And by the power of his voice they are broken up, and become smooth, yea, even like unto a valley.
 11 Yea, by the power of his voice doth the whole earth shake;
 12 Yea, by the power of his voice, do the foundations rock, even to the very center.
 13 Yea, and if he say unto the earth—Move—it is moved.
 14 Yea, if he say unto the earth—Thou shalt go back, that it lengthen out the day for many hours—it is done;
 15 And thus, according to his word the earth goeth back, and it appeareth unto man that the sun standeth still; yea, and behold, this is so; for surely it is the earth that moveth and not the sun.
 16 And behold, also, if he say unto the waters of the great deep—Be thou dried up—it is done.
 17 Behold, if he say unto this mountain—Be thou raised up, and come over and fall upon that city, that it be buried up—behold it is done.
 18 And behold, if a man hide up a treasure in the earth, and the Lord shall say—Let it be accursed, because of the iniquity of him who hath hid it up—behold, it shall be accursed.
 19 And if the Lord shall say—Be thou accursed, that no man shall find thee from this time henceforth and forever—behold, no man getteth it henceforth and forever.
 20 And behold, if the Lord shall say unto a man—Because of thine iniquities, thou shalt be accursed forever—it shall be done.
 21 And if the Lord shall say—Because of thine iniquities thou shalt be cut off from my presence—he will cause that it shall be so. (Helaman 12)

19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. (Mosiah 3:19)

So we are less than the dust of the earth. What is the only way to arise from the dust?

The examples are found in Jesus, Abraham, and all saved men: "Here am I, send me."

The key to constructing a masterpiece of a life, one which will give you the greatest satisfaction upon reflection at its conclusion, is to yield to the incitements of God. It doesn't take skill. It doesn't take wisdom. It doesn't take good looks, fame, or fortune. It doesn't take strength. It just takes submission. It is just the willingness to take upon you the name of Christ. It is the determination to serve him to the end. It is the simple, child-like desire to serve him. When he calls, you say, "Here am I, send me." It doesn't mean you are the best match for the task at hand--you aren't. It doesn't mean you are the best fit for what is at hand--you aren't. However, if you stop and look around, you'll see hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people (maybe even billions) who are NOT volunteering for the job. What separates you from them is that you said yes, and they all said no. God will make up for what you lack in being able to perform the job. After all, the works are his.

Here is some detail from John telling us about how Jesus operated in this way:

"Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?" (John 10:32).

"But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me." (John 5:36).

"Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." (John 14:10).

You see, even the perfect man was simply doing what he was told. He was simply saying yes to what God asked him to do. That is the key. We can do no good thing of ourselves. Whatever good we do is God "who dwelleth in us" doing the works.

Who is on the Lord's side, who? Now is the time to show.

God's work is incredible. It is powerful. It is majestic. If you want to encounter it and have it infuse into your life, all you need to do is bow your heart to him and say, "yes." Then, get ready, because he will use you.