In the last chapter, Nephi died and the people have grown hard in their hearts and are indulging in wicked practices. Jacob received an errand from the Lord to preach to them. He is “weighed down with much more desire and anxiety for the welfare of your souls than I have hitherto been.” (3) Up to this point, his people have been “obedient unto the word of the Lord,” (4) but the Spirit reveals to him that they are “beginning to labor in sin.” (5)
His people have begun to search for gold and other precious metals. Seeking riches isn’t the sin. Jacob says:
And the hand of providence hath smiled upon you most pleasingly, that you have obtained many riches.”Jacob 2:13
The Lord blessed them with wealth because of their righteousness.
But Satan is a subtle deceiver and has worked on their hearts—the best way to entice sin.
And because some of you have obtained more abundantly than that of your brethren ye are lifted up in the pride of your hearts, and wear stiff necks and high heads because of the costliness of your apparel, and persecute your brethren because ye suppose that ye are better than they.”Jacob 2:13
Getting more than others became their focus, instead of loving God and their fellowmen. Riches puffed them up to pride and they forgot how to be reconciled to Christ, which we learned about in Jacob 1. Whenever we think we are better than someone else, our hearts harden and we begin to labor in sin. Repentance humbles us and heals our wounded souls so Satan can’t become our master.
Jacob tells them God does not look kindly upon us when we think we are better than others. “But he condemneth you, and if he persist in these things his judgments must speedily come unto you.” (14)
Jacob pleads for his people to “listen unto the word of his [God’s] commands, and let not this pride of your hearts destroy your souls!” (16)
Pride is like cancer. It eats away at our spiritual insides which enable us to love, until it destroys us. Repentance is the ONLY cure-all that thoroughly eradicates all spiritual cancers.
Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you.” (17)
Helping others and giving away our bounty won’t make us poor. Jacob says it will make others rich, like us. The key to this miracle is given in the next verses.
But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God. / And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.”Jacob 2:18-19
The pure in heart who follow Christ will never seek riches for the purpose of looking better than others or getting more than others. They will seek them for the purpose of furthering God’s work and making others rich as well.
To be blessed with worldly riches, we must obtain a hope in Christ.
Why do you think this is the case?
Would a hope in Christ and His Atoning power maybe cleanse us from our sins and selfish desires so we aren’t tempted and lured in by pride and wicked power. Our top desires would be to do good (things like clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, liberating the captive, and helping those who are sick or afflicted in any manner—mental, physical, or spiritual).
I was raised in a poor family and had some biases against rich people growing up. Only as an adult have I been able to recognize and overcome these biases and realize that one needs money to do good things. Money isn’t the root of all evil. Pride is. We can seek after riches to do good, but we must found that desire in Christ, or Satan will tempt us to turn our desires for good into something bad, luring us in with pride, selfishness, or worldly power.
God has given us all things. Don’t take credit to yourself where credit isn’t due.
Satan was the supreme example of pride, wanting all of God’s glory for himself by forcing us to return to God without being free to act for ourselves. He wanted to be a heavenly dictator—a slave master.
God is our Creator. He is the Giver of all good things. He wants to bless us with all that we desire, which is good. But we must be careful not to allow Satan to deceive us into thinking our talents, riches, blessings come because we are better, smarter, or more worthy than others.
God loves all people with the same perfect love. (21)
Am I using the blessings God has given me (spiritual and physical) to bless others and make the world a better place?
Waxing in Iniquity
Jacob would rejoice if he could stop his preaching here, at pride in their riches. But the Spirit has revealed even grosser crimes and has said that “this people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures, for they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms…” (23)
This waxing metaphor brings to mind several images. Wax in ears builds up over time, making it so a person can’t hear. If one waxes in iniquity, I picture the waxy substance of sin building up and blocking our spiritual ears from hearing God.
I also picture a candle, with wax is dripping down as the flame burns, building up into crazy shapes. Old candles that have waxed long, are often misshapen from wax buildup. Sin distorts our spirits. When one waxes in iniquity, “they understand not the scriptures.” The wax has crusted over those spiritually sensitive organs that provide light and understanding from the Spirit.
Jacob’s people waxed so great in iniquity that they distorted the scriptures and took them to mean different things from what God intended. They committed whoredoms and took unto them other women other than their wives, justifying their sin by the Bible, where David did the same. But Jacob tells them that even for David, this “thing was abominable before…the Lord.” (24)
For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts. / Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes.”Jacob 2:28-29
Jacob chastiseth the men who have fallen into these evil practices.
Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them.” (35)Jacob 2:28-29
It would be terrible to lose the confidence of our children. Our good examples provide them a solid foundation on which to build a moral life. When we sin, that foundation crumbles and they flounder. It takes lots of time and consistency to build trust again.