In his epistle to the Romans, the Apostle Paul counseled the Saints of his day that God will render to every individual according to his or her deeds:

"To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil. . . . (Rom. 2:7-9)Too often the gospel may appear to us as an either-or proposition: Those who serve the Lord and their fellow beings with "patient continuance" and those who don't. But this is not necessarily the case. While not deliberately serving evil, some appear less than committed to the gospel cause.

Some Saints carve out a personal comfort zone based on a single gospel principle. They have defined the gospel much like the proverbial blind man touching an elephant. They feel they know what the gospel looks like because they have touched it - once. Some spend a lot of time in their comfort zone only because it's familiar. They feel at home, even at peace.

But then something comes along to disrupt it - a test of faith or some other event and they often become disheartened in the gospel. But if we remain humble, relying on the Lord and His wisdom, we receive new insights, new pearls of wisdom from these experiences. We learn and grow - line upon line. We see how the gospel is meant to be seen: a total commitment to our Father in Heaven and to His Son, Jesus Christ.

We discover new truths about ourselves and our relationship to God that may alter our perception of the way we do things or at least point us to the steps we must take in order to become sons and daughters of the Most High. (See Ps. 82:6).

Our gospel challenges may give us pause, but if we are confident of the rightness of our course, we know we can succeed if we are in tune with the Spirit and lose ourselves in the work.

What we have been reminded of continually - especially by latter-day Church leaders - is the danger of putting ourselves on spiritual "cruise control." If we do, we run the risk of becoming complacent, believing that all is well when all is not. If we relax our commitment too much we may shrink from Church assignments or worse, start to lose our testimonies. We need to remind ourselves that the Lord does not want a people operating by remote control or serving Him for the wrong reasons.

"Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them . . . and they shall in nowise lose their reward. But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned." (D&C 58:27-29)

We must be anxiously engaged in good works because it is right. We need to be more than the Sunday-only Saints who show up weekly for the three-hour block of meetings and are out of the meetinghouse doors almost before the last "amen" has been spoken. Their motivation is to "appear" involved in the gospel, to socialize, not commune with the Spirit. They seek to hold the Lord to His promise "I the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say." (D&C 82:10), but their hearts are far from Him. They want the benefits of salvation, as long as it doesn't inconvenience them or their lifestyle.

They believe three hours on Sunday is "the extra mile" spoken of by the Savior. Why do they find the gospel so hard to live? Why is it so hard to show love one to another?

The Savior did not say His road would be easy or His yoke light. He counseled us to love everyone and even pray for our enemies. He counseled us to choose the celestial path in all that we do, not wallow in telestial puddles.

The challenges we face then - in the latter days - may not be getting easier, but they are not unlike those faced by Saints in earlier times.

The parable of the Ten Virgins reminds us that the oil and wicks in our gospel lamps need our constant attention, lest our spiritual lights dim and we lose that which we have worked so hard to gain.