After Jacob urges the sinners to repent, he speaks to the “pure in heart” and tells them to “Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction.” (1)
Let’s tear this verse apart to get more out of it.
Firmness of mind implies pure focus. We look to God in faith and are not distracted by the craziness of the world or the mocking we receive from those in the great and spacious building.
Pray with exceeding faith is more than just saying morning and nightly prayers. It implies action. A video from General Women’s conference a few years ago showed an African woman who prayed each day for the Lord to help her know who to help. After praying with exceeding faith, she focused on putting her prayers into action, by helping those God brought to her mind. She did this every day without fail, always seeking God’s will on who to help, and then finding someone to help.
Am I engaging with my God with exceeding faith (active), or unthinking rote routine (passive)?
To pray with exceeding faith, we must open our eyes to see…and then DO.
To the Pure in Heart
Jacob speaks to the pure in heart in his audience, giving them guidance.
O all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever.”Jacob 3:2
Lift up your heads
What is different about lifting our heads to God versus keeping our heads down?
Does it signify looking to heaven? Acknowledging Him as our Creator and our Savior? Humility and prayer usually are depicted with heads bowed, but in this instance, we are told to lift our heads up.
Moses had his people lift their heads to look upon the brass serpent (which represented Christ) in order to be healed. Maybe the same thing applies here—to look up to Christ—look to His living prophets and apostles for understanding, not down at the world.
Ancient and modern prophets have always encouraged us to look for more in our lives. God is anxious to bless us, but He won’t force Himself upon us. We must lift up our heads and be willing to RECEIVE.
- We must desire more.
- We must be willing to act on more.
Are we prepared to receive more from God?
Feast upon His love
After looking up to receive the pleasing word of God, Jacob tells us to feast upon God’s love, which comes from knowing and following His pleasing word. Our minds must be firm to do this. Jacob suggests it’s a choice. You may feast upon the fruits of the atonement if you choose—but your minds must be firm to do that.
Firm in what? The footnote for the word firm leads to this verse:
Now this was the faith of these of whom I have spoken; they are young, and their minds are firm, and they do put their trust in God continually.”Alma 57:27
If our minds are firm, our testimonies are built on a solid foundation of Jesus Christ. Our belief in the Savior isn’t planted in wet slurry that can move with pressure. It’s based in hardened concrete. No moving from what we know and believe to be true. No matter how much pressure the world puts against us to change and bow to their lack of standards, our minds are firm and our testimonies will not be pushed around, moved, or broken. We trust God with our whole soul. We don’t waver in this trust we give Him.
Jacob warns the people that if they are not pure in heart, they need to repent or they will be destroyed and “God will lead away the righteous out from among you.” (4)
The importance of loving and being true to our families is shown. Jacob tells his people that the Lamanites are more righteous than they because of only one thing—they love their wives and children and don’t cheat on them.
Wherefore, because of this observance, in keeping this commandment, the Lord God will not destroy them, but will be merciful unto them; and one day they shall become a blessed people.”Jacob 3:6
You only have to read The Family: A Proclamation to the World to know how important the family is in God’s eternal plan. Everything hinges on eternal families, so even an unenlightened people who don’t have the fullness of the gospel will be blessed if they honor the family unit.
Then Jacob gives a great sermon on not judging others.
Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you, which is the word of God, that ye revile no more against them (the Lamanites) because of the darkness of their skins; neither shall ye revile against them because of their filthiness; but ye shall remember your own filthiness, and remember that their filthiness came because of their fathers.”Jacob 3:9
Cast the beam out of our own eyes before pointing out the mote in others. When we focus on our own sins and repent, we become more empathetic and compassionate to others, because we realize we all make mistakes and need Christ to be saved.
It’s easy to get caught up in labeling (judging) others. We do it every day—talking about politics, talking about our families, talking about others at work or acquaintances at school. If someone acts or believes differently than us, it’s easy to make blanket statements such as: “I can’t believe he/she voted for him/her.” (and the underlying meaning is that they are bad for voting differently than us or supporting some cause we despise)
It’s difficult to make huge changes in our lives, but the world would be a better place if we chose to do small and simple things to become better each day.
What small and simple things can I (you) do to become less judgmental and more empathetic?
- Could I cut out negative social media and news influences from my daily routine?
- Could I pray to be more aware of what I think and say about others?
- Could I actively seek to look for good in everyone I meet or read about in the news? Even myself?
- Could I smile at a stranger each day, instead of looking down at the ground?
- Could I curb my impulse to badmouth other drivers when I’m in the car?
What other things could you do to become more loving?
Arouse, Shake, Awake, Loose
Jacob says to “arouse the faculties of your souls; shake yourselves that ye may awake from the slumber of death; and loose yourselves from the pains of hell that ye may not become angels to the devil, to be cast into that lake of fire and brimstone which is the second death.” (11)
So many action words in that verse. God wants actively engaged followers, not passive ones.
Arouse means to awaken from sleep or stimulate to action. To stimulate our souls to action shows faith…because faith is action.
Shaking shows more action. It shows we are trying to wake ourselves up and gain energy to exercise that saving faith in Jesus Christ.
Awake shows we are aware and ready for action. We don’t let life slip by as we slumber. We look up to God and are firm in our minds about what we will do and be.
Loose ourselves shows that we intentionally choose Christ and life—not the slumber of sin and death. We purposely distance ourselves from the world that can lull us into spiritual sleep. We actively seek to build the kingdom of God and do good in the world.
Am I casual in my relationship with the Lord, imitating a spiritual sloth. Or am I spiritually awake? Actively seeking God in prayer, shaking myself into doing good and helping those around me.
What small and simple things can I do this week to become more firmly awake so I can look up to God and receive MORE in life?