Tuesday’s Torch 610
October 20, 2020
There are many in the world who choose to not walk the straight and narrow and many who choose not to believe because they misunderstand some aspects of the Gospel, especially those who have issues that stem from the following question we have all heard if not asked ourselves: Why do bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people?
Firstly I will answer that in a pretty matter of fact way and then I will attempt to explain the wrong thinking with that question to begin with. The simple answer is agency which is also known as free will. One of the greatest blessings we have been given is that of agency. We are free to choose for ourselves what we will do with the life we have been given. God will not take away our agency. If people who do good have all good things happen to them and those who sin have only bad things happen to them as a result that would interfere with our agency.
Having agency and knowing right from wrong is the trial and the test we all have in this life. Will we do what is right even if it doesn’t instantly reward us? Will we do the wrong thing if it gets us something we want? Will we choose the right even if it costs us something we desire? These questions can only be answered if we are truly free to decide for ourselves what we do when rewards in this lifetime may or may not come our way.
With those answers hopefully at least somewhat out of the way, let’s now look at why the question isn’t exactly one that represents how we view living the gospel. Let’s jump right into this with the following question that I will answer right along with you because it is a super easy one. Who are we supposed to try and be like? Jesus Christ. Many people used to wear WWJD bracelets to try and remind themselves to be like a Jesus, others may have a fish bumper sticker or simply carry a desire in their heart to be like Jesus.
But here’s the kicker when it comes to being like Jesus. Who did he help during his life? Did he help himself or did he help others? Did he do all that he did to bless himself or to bless each one of us? Clearly he lived for us and he also suffered and died for us. He lived a perfect life and did only good things happen for him? We all know that wasn’t the case but yet he did what was right no matter what the result in this life would be.
To prevent this torch from simply being a lecture which hopefully it hasn’t already turned into, let’s hop into a couple verses. In Luke chapter 6 verses 43-45 we read the following. “For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”
In these verses the Savior compares us to trees. More specifically we are compared to fruit trees. And our actions become the fruit we put forth. The fruit of a fruit tree benefits others beyond the tree itself. How amazing is it to be able to partake of a perfect piece of fruit from a great fruit tree? I for one think it’s amazing. Since we are compared to a fruit tree and the verses say we are to be known by our fruit, we also live to bless others!
Disclaimer: As we do what is right we store up for ourselves treasures in heaven but for the purposes of this message we are primarily discussing here on earth blessings. Doing good or bad in this life doesn’t mean we will always receive the corresponding blessing for ourselves. But for those we interact with we can absolutely be a good fruit tree or a bad one.
Let’s think more along the lines of actual fruit trees for a moment. Some fruits are delicious and others not so much. I have a small persimmon tree in my back yard, the deer seem to love them but I’ve tried them at various stages of ripeness and they seem to be just about inedible. The fruit of some trees can make you sick and in extreme cases the poisonous fruit of others can kill you. The manchineel tree goes by multiple different names. It’s often called Poison Guava but I prefer a present day Spanish name for it of “manzanilla de la muerte” which translates to “little apple of death.”
Imagine if each time you passed by a fruit tree you had to partake of the fruit of that tree? You would certainly avoid the little apple of death tree right? As would others. As we live righteously and do good, we ensure that we are a good tree bringing forth good fruit because the partakers are those we interact with. Think about those we spend the most time with, our families and close friends, what kind of fruit are we providing them?
Think of your own children or the other children we cross paths with. Think of your friends, best friends, spouses and others. While our righteous choices may not lead to good things for us in this life and while we may still receive good things in life even though we sin occasionally or even all of the time, our impact on others I would say blesses or harms them based on our righteousness or lack thereof.
As we follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost who will never prompt us to do anything contrary to the teachings of the Savior, we will be a blessing to all we come in contact with. As we sin and follow unrighteous paths, we may still get some good things, but we will cause harm to others. Maybe just a little upset such as a fruit causing you to need a couple extra bathroom breaks. But in extreme cases our unrighteousness can cause our fruits to be poison to others, causing them physical, emotional and even spiritual harm. And those who are the closest to us, they are the ones who are most harmed by our choices to sin.
So again the message I’m hoping to share is that while the use of our agency may not always match up with the earthly blessings we receive or don’t receive, our agency and the righteous or unrighteous decisions will impact those we interact with, especially those we love.
On a flip side to this message, too often we decide whether or not an action is right or wrong based on how it turns out for us. If good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people then obviously the earthly outcome for us of our decisions does not determine if the choices are good or bad.
Righteous decisions bless the lives of those we come in contact with, especially those we are close to. Unrighteous decisions harm those we interact with and devastate those we love and are extremely close to.
This message isn’t shared to beat anyone up but to express that what we do does matter. Both in the hereafter where we are storing up treasures in heaven and also in the right now as we bless or harm those we spend time with. Sin harms those we associate with even if it seems to have no harmful effects. Righteousness blesses them even if it’s unnoticeable to us.
May we all cultivate our relationship with the Savior, may we all strive to live righteously and bring forth good fruit! As we look around in our personal lives as well as looking around the world around us, it is evident the harm being done by sin turning many fruits bad. Again, it may not appear to be causing harm to those doing the acts, (it is spiritually speaking) but the harm being done to others is a strong poison.
So in closing, be a peach tree, or a Fuji apple tree, maybe even a Granny Smith, pear or plum tree. But please, let us all strive to live righteously or we could very well be a “manzanilla de la muerte” to those in our lives. Don’t let outcomes be the determining factor between right and wrong. Choose what is right regardless of what we think the earthly outcome will be. That is what it means to live righteously. That is what it means to be known by our fruits. May God bless each of us as we strive to do what is right, and my prayer is that on top of being a blessing in the lives of others that we can each receive a bit more happy than sad as well. Feeling good about yourself is a tremendous blessing and one that we will receive as we choose the right. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
I know the message technically just ended but I would like to add one last thing in Jesus’ name: The Atonement makes it possible that as we repent and choose the right, we can change the type of fruit tree we are. There is always hope! Of this I so Testify! Have a blessed week!
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No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. Luke 8:16