Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Salt, the Light and the Leaven

As we come to the end of another semester here at Utah State University and other universities wherever you are the students will be moving on to full-time careers and others on to graduate school. This is an exciting time for students that are graduating. They have been working for this day for four years or more and now the day has finally come. The future is looking bright, jobs are on the rise and opportunities are all around us if we know where to look.

One thing to keep in mind when you are choosing your career or graduate school is where can I serve the Lord’s Kingdom the best. Service needs to be something that we are willing to do wherever we go. There are three parables that Jesus taught that I would like to talk about today. The first is found in Matthew chapter 5 verse 13

“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”

Here the Lord is asking us to be different than those around us. We are to look and act different and not blend in. If we fail in this then we are going to be cast out and trodden under foot of men. Brother Drew Eagar recently spoke at a BYU-Idaho devotional about being the salt of the earth and the responsibility we have as members of the church:

“So it is with us. When we allow ourselves to lose our distinctive flavor, the Lord can no longer use us to attract his children to his gospel. When we become indistinguishable from the world that surrounds us, we become less effective instruments in the Lord’s hands. This happens when we look the same, dress the same, speak the same, act the same, think the same, and entertain ourselves the same as the rest of the world; we have lost our flavor and the Lord cannot effectively use us for his purposes.

“Elder Robert D. Hales said, “As Latter-day Saints we need not look like the world. We need not entertain like the world. Our personal habits should be different. Our recreation should be different.”1 As the world moves further and further away from the standards the Lord has set, we have the opportunity to hold our own course, to set ourselves apart, to be different. The Lord needs us to be different so others can sense or “savor” that difference and desire to follow.” (“Of Salt, Light and Leaven”, Drew Eagar, BYU-Idaho Devotional Talk, March 4 2014)

The next parable that Christ taught his disciples was to be the light of the world:

14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

We are asked to be two types of light to the world. The first is to be a city on a hill. One that all can see. How many time have you come out of Sardine Canyon at night and see the lights of Cache Valley shining and in the midst of all those lights is the Logan Temple standing on the hill calling us home. It is a reminder of the covenants that we have made there and calling us to return and renew those covenants.

The other light is the candle that gives light to all in the house. It is this type of light that President Boyd K. Packer spoke of in the October 2012 General Conference. He spoke of two lights that help guide ships into harbor safely. He spoke of the light that comes high on a hill from the lighthouse. The other light is the lower light that guides the ships safely to shore. He said:

“A light on the hill above the beach and a second lower light marked the narrow passage. When a boat was maneuvered so that the two lights were one above the other, the boat would be lined up properly to pass through the dangerous rocks that lined the passage.” (“The Atonement”, President Boyd K. Packer, General Conference, October 2012)

Brothers and sisters the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the restored Church is the light represented by the bright light on the hill from the lighthouse. We are the lower light that helps guide those that are lost and struggling to find their way to safety. The light of the gospel calls to everyone and it is through our examples and testimonies that we help others find their way safely home to Heavenly Father’s kingdom here on the earth and eternal life as families.

The third parable that Jesus taught is found in Matthew 13:33:

The kingdom of heaven is like unto aleaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

If you have ever made bread, you know that it only takes a little bit of yeast to help the loaf rise to it’s full potential. Without the yeast the bread will remain flat and not what it is intended to be. Bro. Eagar in his BYU-Idaho talk spoke about our part as the leaven:

“The first and most critical element that allows leaven to function effectively is to be in the loaf. How can the leaven lift, if it is not in the loaf? Many of us might think, during these times of increasing evil, that we should take our families and hide out in some small town in Idaho, surrounded by other Mormons. But remember, the world needs us.

“M. Russell Ballard gave us this great guidance regarding the topic:

“In spite of all the wickedness in the world, and in spite of all the opposition to good that we find on every hand, we should not try to take ourselves or our children out of the world. Jesus said, “the kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven,” or yeast. We are to lift the world and help all to rise above the wickedness that surrounds us…

“The Lord does not need a society that hides and isolates itself from the world. Rather, it needs stalwart individuals and families who live exemplary lives in the world and demonstrate that joy and fulfillment come not of the world but through the spirit and doctrine of Jesus Christ.(“Of Salt, Light and Leaven”, Drew Eagar, BYU-Idaho Devotional Talk, March 4 2014)

I hope that the students that are graduating will take what you have learned here from Institute and the service you provided in your wards as well as your studies at the University and go out and be the salt, the light and the leaven. I hope you will be a influence for good in your homes, your neighborhoods and in your careers. Remember that to be the leaven, you must be willing to be in the world. Take that job in another state, go to graduate school somewhere that you are needed. It may be hard to leave your families and go into the world, but that is exactly what the scriptures tell us to do. We are to leave our fathers and mothers and become one. You will have many blessings come as you go out in the world and serve diligently.

I ask that you pray each day for an opportunity to help someone in some way. It does not always have to be gospel related, it can be brining someone a smile, a kind word, a helping hand. Just find someone to serve each day and you will be the influence your Heavenly Father has asked you to be.

I testify this is the Lord’s Church and that he is the head of it. I testify that Joseph Smith did see Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, that he did translate the Book of Mormon by the power of God and that it is the word of God. I know that President Thomas S. Monson is the Lord’s Prophet and mouthpiece today and if we follow him and the other general authorities we will always be on the right path. Never do anything that will separate you or your family from their teachings.

Your comments and questions are welcome.

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