We had our monthly fast and testimony meeting today and it had me thinking about testimonies in general.

More specifically, when do you know something?

People seem to think that it takes some kind of dramatic, life altering, big, unmistakable event to “know” something in the gospel.

I think this attitude comes from the pervasive doubt that we are forever subjected to in the world.

We watch detective television shows and crime dramas like CSI where we expect every little bit of evidence to be gathered, shown, explained, and verified before we take anything as true or accurate.

This kind of thinking has us setting the bar a little high about what it takes to “know” something.

Alma chapter 32 talks about the difference between faith and knowledge.  Contrary to the popular primary song, faith is not like a little seed but the faith is necessary to help the seed to grow.

Starting in v. 17 “Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believe.”  This is a little backwards and it is not faith.  We are commanded to exercise and use our faith for positive ends.  Having this kind of knowledge did not help out Laman and Lemuel, and it probably did more to condemn them.  (see v. 19).

Alma then explains that the people should try or experiment on his words to know if they are good and should be followed.  The idea is that you should work with the level of belief you are currently at to move on to the next level of belief.  If you only have a desire to believe, then work on the desire until it grows so that you can take the words in and experiment with them. (v. 27)

After making space, then Alma compares the word to a seed.  You take the word in, and then plant it and nourish it in your soul and see if it expands and improves your life.  (v. 28)

By watching the growth of the seed, by your faith, then you can know that the [word/seed] is [good/true].  By exercising your desire to believe, then you faith and belief you can find out whether a principle that is taught is true.  Then you know in that one thing. (v. 32-34).

It is not spelled out exactly what this looks like for each person, but the symptoms of how you might know that a seed is growing and expanding is where you might say “the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand.”  (v. 34)

So, how about you?  Have you tried paying tithing, praying every day, reading the Book of Mormon regularly, or some other commandment and found it to be a good thing?  Is your soul, heart, and mind expanded to encompass new ideas and beliefs?  Can you notice when you are being taught by the spirit?

That is how you know things are true.  You can know, not just believe or hope to know.  Set the bar a little lower and recognize the truths you already know.

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