A Little Leaven

Woman Kneading Dough” by Thomas Stuart Smith (1813/1814–1869)

I wrote yesterday about the practical implications of the Parable of the Mustard Seed. Today, I’ve been thinking about the Parable of the Leaven:

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

Matthew 13:33; see also Luke 13:20-21

We all know that leavening agents, such as yeast or baking powder, cause dough to expand. We also know that a small amount of leaven goes a long way, particularly when you give it time to do its work.

Nephi saw in a vision that “the saints of the church of the Lamb” would be few in number, but that they would also be “upon all the face of the earth” (1 Nephi 14:12). He said that God’s power would descend upon them and that they would be “armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory” (1 Nephi 14:14).

Apparently, you don’t have to be numerous to be impactful, but it helps if you’re distributed throughout the world.

President Dallin H. Oaks said:

We are to live in the world but not be of the world. We must live in the world because, as Jesus taught in a parable, His kingdom is “like leaven,” whose function is to raise the whole mass by its influence (see Luke 13:21Matthew 13:33; see also 1 Corinthians 5:6–8). His followers cannot do that if they associate only with those who share their beliefs and practices. But the Savior also taught that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments (see John 14:15).

Loving Others and Living with Differences,” General Conference, October 2014

I see three practical implications of this parable:

  1. Leaven has to be in the dough to do its work. Participate. Interact with people. Don’t seclude yourself and miss out on the chance to leaven the loaf.
  2. Don’t be alarmed if a piece of advice or some other form of influence doesn’t yield an immediate result. You don’t necessarily need to add more “leaven.” Give the dough a chance to rise.
  3. Wherever you are in the world, whatever work or other activities you are involved in, that is your portion of the loaf. You don’t have to do it all. There are good people the world over, which is how “the whole” will get leavened. So focus on cultivating what Neal A Maxwell called your “particular furrow” (“Brightness of Hope,” General Conference, October 1994), trusting that there are saints of God “upon all the face of the earth.”

Today, I will remember the Parable of the Leaven. I will engage with the people around me and strive to be a positive influence. I will be patient, remembering that leaven takes time to rise. And I will be grateful to be part of a bigger work, in which the Savior’s influence can be felt across the earth.

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