Benjamin tells his people that they should “succor those that stand in need of succor.” (16)
Succor means to help someone who is suffering or in a difficult position, striving to relieve their burden.
This is actually one of our baptismal covenants, to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who need comforting. (Mosiah 18:9)
He tells them to “administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need.” (16)
Whether someone needs a smile or a meal or a place to stay, we should be willing to give them of our bounty, since everything we have is from God.
And ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.”
Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—“Mosiah 4:16-17
Many years ago, I saw a crazy man on a corner, throwing his hands about in the air and yelling to himself. I said to my husband, “I wouldn’t give money to that man. He’s nutso and wouldn’t know what to do with it.”
His answer has always stuck with me. “But those are the people who probably need it the most, because they are crazy and can’t hold down a regular job due to their mental issues.”
It humbled me and made me see things differently. Benjamin tells people who judge another about their needs that we need to repent quickly or perish. I felt remorse for my harsh judgment that day and have tried to not be so quick to judge since then. Everyone is a child of God, no matter how scary, crazy, broken, or weird they may seem at their lowest.
Our job is NOT to be their judge. Our job is to be kind and charitable. Helpful. Relieve their suffering, not justify it.
Benjamin concludes this wise sermon with this council.
For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and rainment, and for gold and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?
And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy.”Mosiah 4:19-20
This verse moves me to tears, because I have begged and pleaded with God many times for a remission of my sins and weaknesses…and He has never judged me unworthy of His infinite blessings of grace and forgiveness.
God does not hold back blessings, no matter how much we don’t deserve the glorious things He gives us.
We should not hold back of our bounty either from those in need here on earth.
And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right [very important word there—He doesn’t give us everything we ask for, just like I wouldn’t give my toddler all the candy he wanted because he doesn’t know what’s best for himself—but He gives us that which is RIGHT], in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.”Mosiah 4:21
This is core doctrine of Christ’s Church, to help the poor, the sick, the hungry, the naked. It’s the foundation of His gospel, because it is love in its purest form—giving of our bounty to those who lack.
Benjamin chastises those who do not give of their bounty to those in need, “withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth.” (22)
Nothing we have on this earth is truly ours. Everything—even our very lives—have been given to us by God. So why would we ever not share what God has given us with others? That’s why He gave it to us—to bless our families and the lives of others.
He speaks to the poor, “ye who have not and yet have sufficient, that ye remain from day to day.” (24) If they deny the beggar because they don’t have extra to give away, their attitude should be “I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give.” (24)
If they don’t think this, then they are coveting that which they don’t even have and are condemned (25)
The need to help the poor and needy is emphasized once more.
…for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guitless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.”Mosiah 4:26
Everyone can do this, whether they have money or not, because he emphasizes that there are both physical and spiritual wants. There are spiritually poor among us as well as financially poor. We need to be aware of both and reach out to help as we are able.
Order and wisdom
And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.”Mosiah 4:27
It is easy to get overwhelmed by our good desires, wanting to do everything for everybody.
My oldest daughter ran track in high school. I will never forget the first mile race she ran. She ran faster than everybody—she’s always been super competitive—and was about a lap and a half ahead of the next person as she started the last lap.
Her muscles gave out as they filled with lactic acid. She fell to the ground and could not move due to painful cramps that disabled her. It was heartbreaking to watch all the others who’d been so far behind her slowly catch up and run past her because she was still writhing in pain to the side.
It is more important to do a little work consistently than a lot all at once and burn ourselves out, like my daughter did in that first race when she hadn’t worked up to that level of endurance yet.
Finish the race
To end my daughter’s race story, she did get up and hobble across the finish line when she was finally able to move again. She came in last place, but you should’ve heard the crowd in the bleachers. She still won a prize that day, because she was diligent and finished the race, even if it was in less than stellar condition and long after the others had finished. But she finished.
Benjamin ends his speech:
But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.”Mosiah 4:30
Continue in the faith to the end of our lives—or the race we are in. We aren’t competing with other runners in life, we are competing against ourselves. Will we quit and give up, or will we finish the race, even if we have to hobble across the finish line?
Remember and perish not.
Remember the words of the prophets and repent.
Remember when we pushed too hard and our spiritual legs filled with lactic acid and made us stop…and then adjust our pace accordingly and do things in order and wisdom.
Remember Christ, who is at the finish line, ready to welcome us across. He is our prize.