Benjamin shows his people how great God is by helping them SEE how small and vain their efforts are compared to the Almighty. God has created our spirits. He’s created the Earth and the heavens. He preserves us from day to day, by giving us breath and movement to do according to our wills. To a point: without Him, we would not exist.
So, even if we give ALL our thanks and praise to Him and serve Him with “all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.” (21)
At first glance, this doctrine seems harsh. I remember reading this as a teenager and not liking the idea of being unprofitable, or useless, as I thought Benjamin was saying. How could God think me unworthy if I was trying so hard to be good and do what He wanted?
As an adult, I more fully understand what Benjamin was trying to say. He called us unprofitable servants, but in no way was he saying that we were worthless or that God didn’t love us.
I watched a Face to Face with the cast members from Studio C (a clean comedy group) a while back. One of the girls talked about being a parent. She said when she first held her newborn son, she was filled with this incredible love for him—not because of anything he had done already. He was a newborn and couldn’t do anything except spit up and poop on her. But she loved him beyond measure. She said that experience gave her a whole new perspective about Heavenly Father—how much He loves us—not because of anything we DO (her baby was an unprofitable little human at that point), but because we are His children.
We don’t earn God’s love by praise, service, or keeping His commandments. We already have His love. He’s already saved us by His own merits, not ours.
Christ gave His very life for us. Never question His love.
The reason we serve Him and keep His commandments isn’t to earn His love or blessings. We do those things to show our love for Him, to pay reverence for what He’s already done to save our unworthy souls.
We are indebted to Him for our very lives—our very breath from day to day. All He asks in return is that we keep His commandments, for which if we do, “he doth bless you and prosper you.” (22). Therefore, we never can pay off our debt. “And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?” (24)
Benjamin wasn’t trying to point out our uselessness. He was trying to prove the point that we truly have nothing to boast about without God in the picture.
We are nothing, without our Savior.
But we are everything to Him. That’s why He gave His life for us.
He is all powerful. Omniscient. All loving. All merciful. And All that is Good. We can never repay Him, and He doesn’t expect us to pay off that debt. He never says, “Come unto me when you’re living the law of tithing and law of chastity and word of wisdom and not a second before.”
No, He says, “Come unto me NOW. Come as you are, with only a desire to do better, and I will perfect you through my Son!”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, God’s kingdom on earth, isn’t for perfect people. It’s for the imperfect and broken, which includes ALL of us. It’s for the sinful, the weak, and the hopeless. It’s for the wounded, the hypocrites and the haters. It’s for the selfish. It’s for the addicts. Whatever thorn in the flesh we might have, God wants us to join with His people and come unto Him.
Our Savior, Jesus Christ, can heal, comfort, fill with hope, mend, strengthen, purify, convert and transform us into saints. We don’t need to do a set amount of good deeds to earn that transformation or follow a bunch of rules before we earn the right to comfort. We come as our imperfect selves to Him—right now!—and Jesus Christ heals and changes us through His atoning power.
When we feel His love and are reborn in Him, we receive the desire to keep His commandments and serve Him, because we are so grateful for what He has done for us.
Benjamin rids his garments of his people’s blood by proclaiming that he has done his best to follow God and teach them correct principles. And now he turns the kingdom over to his son, Mosiah. (30) He says that if they follow Mosiah in keeping God’s commandments, they will prosper as a people. He then gives them this warning.
But, O my people, beware lest there shall arise contentions among you, and ye list to obey the evil spirit, which was spoken of by my father Mosiah.”Mosiah 2:32
List means to tip toward one side. When we tip to the adversary’s side, we become contentious and want to argue, justify, and accept sinful behavior as okay, or even good.
LIST is the root word of LISTEN.
When we list-en, we tip our thoughts toward one side or the other.
That is why listening to both sides of an argument when we don’t understand the core principles behind the discussion can be good, so we don’t get biased in one direction prematurely.
[Sidenote: people tend to forget or ignore this principle in politics. We’d have more well-informed people if they didn’t just list to the first side they hear (or grow up hearing about) but would listen to both sides of political commentary and pick out what’s good in both, to make up their own minds about what they believe, instead of letting a political party tell them what they should.]
To list-en to the still, small voice of the Spirit, we must tip toward God to hear. If we lean toward the world—which is noisy, loud, and chaotic—the still small voice of the Spirit will be drowned out.
- Which way do I list? Toward God or toward the world?
- Do I hear the still small voice in my life?
- How can I listen more carefully, so I can Hear God’s voice in my life?
…but what knoweth that ye are eternally indebted to your heavenly Father, to render to him all that [we] have and are...”Mosiah 2:34
All our blessings, all our God-given traits and strengths, and I would say even our weaknesses and sins, must be given to our Father in Heaven.
He takes what we have been blessed with and makes it even better or multiplies it, so we can share it with others and bless more lives.
He takes our weaknesses and sins, and in the best plot-twist imaginable, He transforms them into strengths and holiness.
Benjamin says that after being taught these things, if they (and we) “transgress and go contrary to that which has been spoken, that ye do withdraw yourselves from the Spirt of the Lord, that it may have no place in you to guide you in wisdom’s paths that ye may be blessed, prospered, and preserved.” (36)
Notice that WE withdraw from God, not Him from us.
When we withdraw from the Spirit, we lose out on so much: heavenly guidance, wisdom, blessings, spiritual and physical prospering, and protection from our enemy (inner and outer demons).
God only works through agency. We must WANT His Spirit to be with us, and therefore, list to God’s side to hear Him and receive more from Him.
Those who choose not to follow God, “come out in open rebellion against God, therefore he listeth to obey the evil spirit, and becometh an enemy to all righteousness; therefore, the Lord has no place in him, for he dwelleth not in unholy temples.” (37)
Benjamin preaches repentance, the key to saving our souls, by connecting with Christ’s atoning power. If we choose not to repent, Benjamin says we will “endure a never-ending torment.” (39)
And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness.”Mosiah 2:41
That sounds amazing. Blessed both temporally and spiritually, with the opportunity to live in a state of never-ending happiness with God. I don’t know about you, but to me, that’s worth repenting for and listing and listening to God to receive that reward.