Growth Again?

Blog #56, April 25, 2023

Yet again I have chosen to discuss growth. My hope is that you revere this topic as much as I. It is the very essence of our relationship with God and His Gospel. It is the very ideal we offer the world around us in our labor with God. Four verses from the first chapter of Proverbs stood out in my mind as containing all that I seek to share today. Each of these verses will be offered in bold font with the discussion in typical font. I love watching people grow in the ways of God, but I love more growing with them. 

Proverbs 1:2-3
1:2 To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding;
1:3 To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity;

The acquisition of knowledge is an important effort, but the true effect of virtuous knowledge is incomplete unless we are able to apply the knowledge given by God to the life we lead. He seeks that we come to recognize the significance of all we learn and how it changes the way we view the world. He seeks us to change within our hearts. God wants us to grow, and He wants that growth to be never ending.  

2 Nephi 12:37-39
12:37 And blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom;
12:38 For unto him that receiveth, I will give more: and from them that shall say, We have enough, shall be taken away even that which they have.
12:39 Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.

Consider how this passage from 2 Nephi applies to our growth. As we grow in the Gospel, the world around us will seem to change. We will come to feel isolated and alone. Truth we relied on will become less than dependable. Concepts within our life that offered us comfort will become strange and intimidating. We will come to question all that we held dear. These questions will rob from us the comfort we have come to expect in the worldly ways we had grown to know and trust. This is an important part of our growth. In those times we feel isolated and alone we learn how close God is to us. One of the greatest precepts that Christ came to teach is the truth that God is only one prayer away. He spoke of it to His disciples in a time just before His crucifixion. 

John 16:32 Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.

If we succumb to the loneliness and forget to reach out to God, or refuse to accept Him as our source of comfort, He cannot help. We must choose to believe Him and trust in the promises He makes. As we grow in God we will come to realize that the assurances of man are lies that bind us to the ways of the world. In God and the promises He brings is truth that will free us. Again, this is our choice. We can choose the isolation of servitude to a system that owns us or we can be free to labor at the side of God. 

John 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

2 Nephi 12:39 Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.

As we grow we will discover that we are constantly faced with mankind and their wisdom. The ways of man will make its ideals ring in our ears and assault our mind in a constant attempt to drown out the words of God and the ways of the Kingdom. We must not succumb to their siren's song and be crashed in the rocks along the shore. Realize how difficult this will be if we refuse to humble ourselves to God through His Spirit.

DC 10:6-7b 
10:6 And now, verily, verily I say unto thee, Put thy trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good; yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit.
10:7a Verily, verily I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy,
10:7b and then shall ye know, or by this shall you know, all things whatsoever you desire of me, which is pertaining unto things of righteousness, in faith believing in me that you shall receive.

Proverbs1:5 A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels;

Life within the Kingdom of God is one of choice. We must choose to repent, we must choose to be baptized, and like it or not, we must choose to learn and grow. Such are the ways of God and the lessons Christ brought. 

Matthew 13:8-15 
13:8 Then the disciples came and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
13:9 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
13:10 For whosoever receiveth, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance;
13:11 But whosoever continueth not to receive, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.

At first this reasoning from Christ seems harsh, but consider it from God's point of view. To gain that which we seek from Proverbs, Solomon cautions us that we must have both wisdom and understanding. As we expose ourselves to growth through the word of God we will find that wisdom and understanding travel together. One is not present without the other, and both come to us through our relationship with the Holy Spirit. We must choose to reach out to God through His Spirit. In that effort we gain a heartfelt affirmation by God of the truth we gained. More importantly we gain clarity. The knowledge we gained becomes more than just an abstract obtuse factoid we can't decipher let alone share with others. It becomes truth that speaks a language our heart can understand and accept. It becomes wisdom we can use to grow in the ways of God. It becomes ours to possess, enjoy, and share with another. 

John 13:34-35
13:34 A new commandment I give unto you. That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Christ was with the disciples and the Spirit was in Him. With that holy presence came clarity. Without Christ there to explain His teachings, all would remain as riddles or dark sayings. Christ warned His disciples that without Him all would become impossible for them to grasp. He also cautioned them that by the very nature of His ministry, His time on earth in the flesh was limited, but He assured them He would not leave them alone. At a time just before His crucifixion He promised them a comforter.

John 14:25-27 
14:25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.
14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

For us to gain all we need from the parables of Solomon we must reach out to the Spirit. We must reach out for wisdom. We must reach out for understanding. We must choose to be diligent in our effort or our grasp of all that is offered will be incomplete. We must humble ourselves to all that the Holy Spirit offers and reach out in prayer with our questions or we will fail.

Matthew 13:14-15 
13:14 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their hearts, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
13:15 But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear. And blessed are you because these things are come unto you, that you might understand them.

Verse 14 above tells of the heart and the mind of the natural man who turns away from the knowledge of God. Oddly enough it tells us also of the believer who refuses to reach out to the Spirit and depends on His own understandings. One out of ignorance the other out of pride, both refuse what the Father seeks to give them. Verse 15 tells of believers eager to reach out to the Spirit and willing to listen and be led. They will receive understandings full, complete, and ready to be applied to their lives.

Proverbs1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Strong's 3373 yir-aw';  fear (also used as infinitive); morally, reverence, dreadful, exceedingly, fear(-fulness).

In my youth I was told that fear as used in this verse was another term for reverence, and I accepted it. Deeper study into the Scriptures revealed to me that this was just not as true as it should be. It did not fit the pattern of whom I was seeking to know as my Father. 

Genesis 7:21 And the fear of the Lord was upon all nations, so great was the glory of the Lord which was upon his people.

2 Nephi 8:35 And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for the fear of the Lord shall come upon them: and the glory of his majesty shall smite them, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.

DC 63:9b I have sworn in my wrath and decreed wars upon the face of the earth, and the wicked shall slay the wicked, and fear shall come upon every man, and the Saints also shall hardly escape; 

These verses speak of feelings much more intense than reverence. They speak of terror, dread, and that horrible feeling in our gut when we are wretchedly afraid. They speak of a path that leads to a desolate feeling of hopelessness. Yes, these are only three of the 709 verses in the scriptures that mention the word fear, but these examples aptly represent the word fear in the scriptures. In my study of this word I began to wonder just how am I supposed to love a being I fear this greatly? Then I came across this passage and found that God and I were of a common understanding of the word fear.

1 John 4:16-19 
4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
4:17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as he is, so are we in this world.
4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear; because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.

According to this passage, if I fear I cannot love. In my confusion I reached out to the Father through His Spirit and sought comfort and direction. I read Proverbs 1:7 one more time.

Proverbs1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Then I grew. The Spirit caused me to realize that the word "beginning" brought a depth of meaning that allowed the word fear to adhere to the pattern of growth God seeks for His children. All parents use fear as a motivational tool to teach their younger children proper behavior.

Through no fault of their own a five year old child will play in the street completely unaware of the danger they are in. Even if we explain it to them they will not understand, but we must teach them. They will understand a swat on the bottom. That being our only teaching tool available, we have to resort to the fear of a pain they can appreciate because it will keep them safe from a danger they can't understand. With growth that same child will choose the same path based on no more than the words of a parent they have come to trust as one who knows and one who loves them enough to instruct them wisely. 

Proverbs 3:11-12
3:11 My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction;
3:12 For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.
The same is true in the ways of God. We came to God, fearing death and continued in God fearing His judgment, but as we grew that changed. As we come to realize who God is, we begin to recognize His reproof as love, and the knowledge He offered as wisdom being shared. We no longer need to fear Him, and we are able to do more than revere His wisdom. We can now trust Him and in that trust our love for Him grows.  

Proverbs1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Understand the fullness of this verse and learn the true value God and His ways. The more we grow in the Lord the more we realize that to ignore His teachings is foolishness that borders on rebellion. This is the fullness of knowledge God seeks for us to have. God is more than just a creature of justice and judgment. He is Father full of mercy. In Him is that perfect balance of justice and mercy that can teach us the truth of righteousness. This is growth Brethren, and the more we grow the more important this realization becomes. Only through our fellowship with the Spirit will we ever come to understand His ways, His truth, His love, or His Kingdom. 

Open your hearts to all He offers.

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