It is by far the longest chapter in the Book of Mormon. In seventy-seven verses spanning across six and a half pages, Jacob introduces us to the allegory of the olive tree.
Growing up, I dreaded getting to this chapter. It was so long! To be honest, I didn’t really get the point of it. There’s lots of trees and the Lord and his servant go and graft in a bunch of branches and spread a bunch of poop on them, gather up the bad branches to burn them, they go back and forth between good fruit and bad…. yada yada…. On to the next chapter!
It wasn’t until I was older that I realized the life-altering lesson in this allegory that I had been missing out on all those years. As I read each verse, the story came alive to me in my mind.
We are the olive trees. Each of us. You and me.
The Lord of the Vineyard (Heavenly Father) and his servant (Jesus Christ) are working so hard on us. They labor and anguish over us - doing everything in their power to help us grow and develop. They are digging about our roots, casting out the bad in us and cultivating the good.
Sometimes, they rejoice because the fruit we are producing is good! And sometimes, they mourn because the fruit we produce is less than ideal. We can be easily corrupted, the wild branches taking over and running rampant in our lives.
At one point in the story, the Lord of the Vineyard is about to “hew down” and cast all the trees in the fire. None of them were producing the desired fruit and he lamented saying, “What more could I have done?”
The following verse has forever changed my outlook on life:
But, behold, the servant said unto the Lord of the vineyard: Spare it a little longer.
Spare it a little longer.
A simple phrase that teaches a profound lesson.
The servant goes on to describe that though the branches have gone wild and the fruit is good for nothing, the roots are still good. They are not too far gone.
They can still be saved.
No matter what point we are at on our journey, no matter what fruit we are currently producing, deep down our roots are good.
Our current state does not define who we are. The Lord and his servant continue to tirelessly work on us, little by little, until the bad has been eradicated and we reach our divine potential of goodness.
Do not judge someone for where they are at in their journey. Do not give up if you are not yet where you want to be. Your failures can become your greatest life lessons.
Keep going. Keep trying. Allow the Lord to work in your life. It is never too late.
Whenever you’re tempted to throw in the towel and stop trying, whether in your life or in your marriage, remember those five powerful words:
Spare it a little longer.