This week has been an interesting one for me spiritually. Last week, I had a really great week, and felt that I had really grown spiritually. I felt that I had been working really hard at living the gospel and showing gratitude for the things that I have received. I really worked on understanding what I was reading in the Book of Mormon and trying to apply it into my own life. This week, although I finished my reading assignment for school, I haven't felt like I really applied myself, or gave it my best effort. And although I have been working on trying to live the gospel and showing gratitude, I feel like I am lacking, and wasn't really putting forth my best efforts. I have felt a difference. But perhaps this is what this week's learning has been about for me. There is a difference between living the gospel with real intent, and just living the gospel.
I think this is what Christ was trying to teach his disciples in 3 Nephi 18, when he talks to them about doing more or less than keeping the commandments.
14 Therefore blessed are ye if ye shall keep my commandments, which the Father hath commanded me that I should give unto you.
15 Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and apray always, lest ye be tempted by the devil, and ye be led away captive by him.
More to me is trying to be seen as important in man's eyes- the people who put emphasis on how "important" your calling is in the ward or stake; less is living the gospel half heartedly, like I have done this week. I have done all that has been required, and that was enough. I didn't apply myself or try to make myself better, I just did what was required. This is building on a shaky foundation, and if I don't watch myself and pray always, I give my power over to Satan to be tempted and led away. Moroni counsels us in Moroni 7:9 And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such.
Elder Bednar's talk on becoming Converted Unto the Lord says,
"Seeking for and obtaining a testimony of spiritual truth requires asking, seeking, and knocking (see Matthew 7:7; 3 Nephi 14:7) with a sincere heart, real intent, and faith in the Savior (see Moroni 10:4). Fundamental components of a testimony are knowing that Heavenly Father lives and loves us, that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and that the fulness of the gospel has been restored to the earth in these latter days."He continues on to say:
Conversion is an enlarging, a deepening, and a broadening of the undergirding base of testimony. It is the result of revelation from God, accompanied by individual repentance, obedience, and diligence. Any honest seeker of truth can become converted by experiencing the mighty change of heart and being spiritually born of God (see Alma 5:12–14). As we honor the ordinances and covenants of salvation and exaltation (see D&C 20:25), “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ” (2 Nephi 31:20), and endure in faith to the end (see D&C 14:7), we become new creatures in Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). Conversion is an offering of self, of love, and of loyalty we give to God in gratitude for the gift of testimony.
I am grateful for the many ways I am taught by the Lord, and for the many reminders that conversion and perfection doesn't happen all at once. It is a lifelong process. I need to continually repent from my sins and weaknesses, and strive daily to do my best with sincerity of heart and real intent.For many of us, conversion is an ongoing process and not a onetime event that results from a powerful or dramatic experience. Line upon line and precept upon precept, gradually and almost imperceptibly, our motives, our thoughts, our words, and our deeds become aligned with the will of God. Conversion unto the Lord requires both persistence and patience.Samuel the Lamanite identified five basic elements in becoming converted unto the Lord: (1) believing in the teachings and prophecies of the holy prophets as they are recorded in the scriptures, (2) exercising faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, (3) repenting, (4) experiencing a mighty change of heart, and (5) becoming “firm and steadfast in the faith” (see Helaman 15:7–8). This is the pattern that leads to conversion.