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  • Tiffany Tolman

The Value of Diligence

This month, in our Come, Follow Me study, we get the chance to study the teachings of the Savior during the last week of His mortal ministry. Among many important messages, He shared the parable of the Ten Virgin (see Matthew 25:1¬–13) in hopes of teaching us, His latter-day disciples, the value of diligently living the gospel as we prepare for His glorious return.

You likely remember the details. Ten virgins awaited the arrival of the bridegroom. As the longed-for celebrations approached, five wise virgins waited with confidence, knowing their lamps were filled with oil. Five foolish virgins panicked at their depleted stores.

When they realized no aid was to be found among the wise virgins, the foolish virgins left to find oil of their own. But their efforts were too little, too late. In their absence, the bridegroom came and the five wise virgins, lights glowing, joined the procession to the wedding feast.

Finding Our Oil

Latter-day prophets have taught that in this parable, the virgins represent us—members of the Church (see Dallin H. Oaks, “Preparation for the Second Coming”). Likewise, the lamps can symbolize our testimonies and the oil can symbolize our conversion to Jesus Christ through our diligent efforts to listen to the Holy Ghost and obey the gospel of Jesus Christ (see David A. Bednar, “Converted unto the Lord”).

If we are to be ready for the Savior’s imminent return—an event I’m praying for daily—we have to diligently fill our lamps with oil, drop by drop, throughout our lives.

But what does it look like to be diligent in our efforts to fill our lamps with oil?

It looks like:

• Daily personal acts of devotion like sincere prayer and scripture study

• Come, Follow Me study as individuals, couples, or families

• Regular, frequent temple attendance

• Holding a current temple recommend or working with your bishop to get one

• Loving and serving the families or sisters you minister to

• Intentionally partaking of the sacrament each week

• Repenting daily, with a firm understanding that the Lord will help you change and improve

• Praying for spiritual gifts to build the kingdom of God

The oil we seek can’t be borrowed from another. When speaking of why the wise virgins didn’t share their store, President Spencer W. Kimball taught:

This was not selfishness or unkindness. The kind of oil that is needed to illuminate the way and light up the darkness is not shareable. How can one share obedience to the principle of tithing …? … How can one share attitudes or chastity, or the experience of a mission? How can one share temple privileges? Each must obtain that kind of oil for himself. …

In our lives the oil of preparedness is accumulated drop by drop in righteous living. … Each act of dedication and obedience is a drop added to our store. (Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle [1972], 255–56)

Diligent Service

I, like many of you in the stake, currently have a son serving a full-time mission for the Church. His assigned field of labor is Liberia, Africa.

His mission is hard. It has pushed him to the limits. He has had to dig extraordinarily deep to keep going.

But he has continued in diligence, drop by drop, to strengthen his faith and serve the Lord. And the result has been an added portion of the Lord’s love and help to see him through and help him feel the joy of serving.

The family picture I included here is a treasure to me. It was taken on a day when our missionary needed a little support in his efforts to diligently serve. So the family came to the rescue, all from different locations, to help him fill his lamp. As each family member (all returned missionaries except me) shared thoughts and insights from personal experience, I was grateful for the support we can give each other in our efforts to diligently live the gospel of Jesus Christ.

A family member shared this insight about mission service that I think can apply to our mortal experience. He said, “Looking back, I loved my mission, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But if I think about the individual experiences on my mission, they were hard, and I didn’t necessarily love them.”

That could describe our efforts on earth. If we continue, drop by diligent drop, to fill our lamps with the oil of gospel living, we can look back and say, “I loved my mortal experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything” even though working diligently through the process takes effort and, sometimes, sacrifice.

The Blessings of Diligence

Listen to the blessings the Lord promises for diligent effort in living the gospel. To those who, with diligence, continue in Him, He says:

I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick…And I will make with them a covenant of peace … Thus shall they know that I the Lord their God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are my people, saith the Lord God. (Ezekiel 34:14–16, 25, 30)

May we each find the value in diligently filling our lamps with oil, drop by drop, through our daily personal acts of devotion so we can feel confident waiting for the Savior to enter our lives—not only on some distant, glorious day, but today and always.

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