Toddling Steps into Spiritual Greatness

There is a truth about spiritual growth that few people understand even after they experience it. This truth is that all blessings are equally and oppositely opposed. When God grants a blessing great or small, He is also triggering some mechanism in the eternal gears of heaven that allow evil to rise to that same degree.

For this reason, when you receive a testimony of the church, someone shortly thereafter hands you anti-literature and things arise in your life to prevent you from attending and serving. Sometimes family and friends militate against your decision.

For the same reason, when you get married in the temple, there are specific trials and oppositions that try to destroy our homes. If someone were to see an angel, or to speak with Jesus Christ Himself, the opposition would rise up in equal and opposite power to challenge, oppose, and thereby prove we are worthy of that blessing. This is the reason that all of the greats from Cain to Judis to Oliver Cowdery have fallen. They couldn’t understand or endure the equal and opposite clause of eternity.

There is an important reason why this opposition must arise. It is necessary for us to prove ourselves “true and faithful” on each new spiritual plane in order to turn an earthly blessing into an eternal reward. That means everything is tested. Even something as glorious as having one’s calling and election made sure will be opposed. We must not only be prepared, but we must expect the opposition.

If Christmas morning worked like this, you would open a present and after enjoying it for about 60 seconds, someone would jump on you and try to wrestle the gift away. After the fight, if you successfully defended the present – then you could keep it and open another. But, if you didn’t fight hard enough, or gave up, or didn’t value the gift enough to fight for it, then you not only lost that gift, but the others under the tree as well. The larger the present, the harder the fight must be.

If you knew this was going to happen, you should either skip Christmas altogether (apostatize, in spiritual terms) , or come to Christmas morning with a baseball bat and padded clothing planning to fight and prepared to conquer.

Some mere mortals have a tendency to be ignorant of the laws of opposition, and then judge other people unrighteous who are pressing through the flames of refinement. They wonder what the true seekers are doing wrong to be thus oppressed, rather than seeing what they are doing right. We doubt the validity of their blessings because we doubt the validity of our own. Yet, there is no instance in the scriptures or written history of someone actually achieving spiritual greatness who was not refined by fire following their toddling steps into spiritual greatness.

Brother John

© December 2011, John M. Pontius, all rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction permitted.

About John Pontius

I am a lover of truth.
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10 Responses to Toddling Steps into Spiritual Greatness

  1. heansweredme says:

    Thank you for this post. I can add my testimony to this, and wish I could say I survived every test. I just offer my eternal thanks for forgiveness to my Savior.


  2. Steve says:

    This gives me an idea for Christmas…

    Thanks for the insight. We gotta fight for our right to blessings.


  3. Jared says:

    How I wish I had understood this principle thoroughly about 10 years ago when some of the greatest “blessings” of my life began to appear completely unannounced.

    As I look back on these experiences and how I responded to subsequent temptations together with the pride I have manifest, I feel like such a failure. I feel stuck. I seem to be having such a difficult time going forward, but neither am I willing to move backward.

    I actually know what I need to do. It’s just so hard simplifying my life and removing distractions in order to do them in consequence of choices I have already made.

    I am just so grateful that I am understanding these things now so I can get it right the next time.



  4. Janet says:

    These excellent thoughts brought to mind the experience of one near and dear who got to endure the betrayal of the spouse. It took about 6 years for that agonizingly painful situation to right itself and another 4 years for trust to be regained.
    Sin had brought this couple to a standstill in advancing the message of the Gospel but they both report that on the other side there was great peace, thanksgiving and awe at what faith and trust in the Savior on the part of the betrayed spouse had wrought. They both feel better able to nurture and succor others in like situations.
    I would say then, that dreadfully hard times also have a sweetness at the end if there has been endurance. This is a counter balance to what Brother John has noted. Perhaps he would comment on this idea as well.

    I little couplet that I have found to be useful:

    “In the end everything will be okay. If it isn’t okay, then it must not be at the end.”


  5. Donald says:

    This evening, I found this quote by Elder Scott:

    Just when all seems to be going right, challenges often come in multiple doses

    simultaneously. When those trials are not consequences of your

    disobedience, they are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow

    more (see Proverbs 3:11–12). He therefore gives you experiences that

    stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion which polish you for your

    everlasting benefit. To get you from where you are to where He wants you to

    be requires a lot of stretching, and that generally entails discomfort and pain.

    … Your Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son love you perfectly. They would

    not require you to experience a moment more of difficulty than is absolutely

    needed for your personal benefit or for that of those you love.

    “Trust in the Lord,” Ensign, November 1995


  6. loralcl says:

    Thank you- how true…..sometimes the “test” comes immediately prior to the proffered blessing as a way to build and fortify us prior to the “trial” of being blessed. Joseph Smith lanquished in Liberty Jail for many months and was counseled in DC 121 and 122, not all of which is in the DC, to not abuse power, “unrighteous dominion,” etc, while power was being abused on him and unrighteous dominion. This somewhat harsh, unsympathetic counsel from the Savior would not make sense until one remembers that shortly afterward Joseph Smith was made one of the most powerful men in the US- mayor of Navoo, Commander in Chief of a militia, President of a church with a very devoted following. He had more power and a reason to abuse it with the persecution the Saints endured. The Savior subjected him to the trial first to strengthen his character before bestowing him.

    When i have been confused, broadsided by a trial that the Savior could easily have softened and hasn’t, i remind myself of this incident with joseph Smith, and then try to put my shoulder to the wheel, pull forth patience, and a willingness to submit, trusting that the Savior is aware and for whatever reason wants me to endure this situation as it currently plays out.


  7. ken h says:

    Thank you for this post. I am reminded of Paul’s urging us all to put on the whole armor of God. As you stated, when we strive to receive great and glorious blessings from God, Satan will be allowed to increase his ability to try and tempt us even more. Without each and every article of our armor we will be left vulnerable to become overwhelmed or at least so discouraged by the increased opposition that we can not truly enjoy the full spiritual weight of the blessings themselves. We will be tempted to doubt our worthiness of the blessings and the personal growth that was intended for us to enjoy will be muted. Another possible effect might be once we receive the promised blessings we will be tempted to think we are strong enough not to fight even harder against the evil that is surrounding us so that when it manifests itself we question God. Our faith begins to waiver and this can lead to possible apostasy and ruin. Thanks again, John.


  8. John D says:

    John, Thank you once again for your thoughts.
    I choose not to share my life’s experiences here for many reasons, I have discovered it is impossible to fully grasp both good and bad what others have gone through.
    But what I will say is, even my closest friends and family members are now doing as you expressed, they doubt and wonder just what I did, to offend the heavens, to have so much adversity, for so long. One person even said maybe I should change my name and seek a do over!
    But as you have already addressed, they cannot know, or, can we share what the Lord has shared with us, to make it all VERY MUCH worth the struggles we have had to endure.
    It is amazing, how so few people understand our purpose here and what it takes for the Lord to make us, who he wants us to be, not here on earth, but for the eternities! What he is so willing share, if we earn it
    Thanks again for being in tune with our challenges and blessings.
    And I can also say, THANK YOU! I have seen in your writings and thoughts these last few days you have gained further light and knowledge before our eyes and yet not had to share it with us in words!


  9. Chris says:

    Given your recent postings there is an unsaid message here. God bless you with the strength to face the challenge.


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