In our recent stake conference, Elder Ringwood of the Seventy spoke about testimony. He suggested that for most of us in the church, the reason we do what we do is our testimony – we attend meetings, we home teach, we give service because of our testimony. I found that interesting because we teach that faith is the motivating principle that moves us to action. And therein I find a relationship between testimony and faith.
In that regard, it matters less, I think, if a person says he knows or believes than what his faith or his testimony moves him to do.
Elder Ringwood asked why we were in the leadership meeting we were attending. His answer: our testimonies drove us to be there. Why do we share the gospel? Our testimony drives us to do it. Why do we attend the temple? The power of our testimony moves us there.
There is a bit of circular logic (and he freely admitted that). Our testimony drives us to pay tithing, and paying tithing increases our testimony of doing it. And that pattern repeats itself in many ways in our church lives, whether with family prayer or personal scripture study or repentance.
It's what I call the overflowing principle. Imagine that you are a bowl. The spirit is the water in a pitcher. As one pours water from the pitcher into the bowl, eventually the water will overflow the sides of the bowl and spill out. The best member missionaries are those who simply can't help it – it just overflows out of them. The happiest members of the church I know are those whose water simply overflows.
Those of us who feel like we’re always scraping the bottom of the bowl for a few more drops of water are likely to feel less fulfilled by "doing our duty." And so we need – for our own survival and comfort – to find ways to fill our bowls.
But when we have those days when our bowls are full and overflowing, it can be astonishing what we can do because we are driven by our faith and testimony.