In the sixth year, there is peace, but the people are afflicted from the consequences of war—a war they did not start. This shows that even when you’re doing what’s right, you can still experience setbacks. They’ve lost loved ones, their fields have been damaged by warriors tramping through them.
And so great were their afflictions that every soul had cause to mourn; and they believed that it was the judgments of God sent upon them because of their wickedness and their abominations; therefore they were awakened to a remembrance of their duty.”Alma 4:3
Like the Pearl Harbor attack that woke America, the Nephites have been spiritually awakened. Not all of them were wicked. The members of the church weren’t doing anything bad. But maybe this is a wake-up call to them as well to do more—to raise the bar and seek for greater light and strength.
The next verse makes me think this is true, for “they began to establish the church more fully…”
- What can I do more fully to show my love for God?
- How can I keep the Sabbath day more fully?
- How can I repent more fully?
- How can I serve more fully?
Even though many of them strive to more fully come unto their God, others more fully enter the pride cycle that repeats itself with every civilization in history (even ours).
The people of the church began to wax proud, because of their exceeding riches, and their fine silks, and their fine-twined linen, and because of their many flocks and herds, and their gold and their silver, and all manner of precious things, which they had obtained by their industry; and in all these things were they lifted up in the pride of their eyes, for they began to wear very costly apparel.”Alma 4:6
When clothes, possessions, and power becomes more important than people, society spirals downward. We must not put any earthly possession above those around us. Everyone is a child of God. That makes them more precious than any material possession or worldly honor.
This grieves Alma and the other church leaders to see the people “set their hearts upon riches and upon the vain things of the world, that they began to be scornful, one towards another, and they began to persecute those that did not believe according to their own will and pleasure.” (8)
The pride in the church becomes greater than that outside the church. They stopped worrying about raising the bar for themselves so they could more fully come unto God. Instead, they have turned away from His light and truth. Because of the “envyings, and strife, and malice, and persecutions, and pride” (9) in the church, it “began to fail in its progress.” (10)
Alma is alarmed. He sees that the poor and needy are being neglected or outright persecuted. There are a few humble followers of Christ—who do offer assistance to the downtrodden and suffer “all manner of afflictions, for Christ’s sake.” (13) But there is too much of a division between the people.
Nevertheless the Spirit of the Lord did not fail him.”Alma 4:15
And the Holy Ghost will not fail us either in our times of sadness or trial when we need Him. He is not called the Comforter for nothing.
Alma selects a wise man (Nephihah) to take his place as chief judge so he can devote himself more fully to his calling as high priest of the church, freeing himself so “he himself might go forth among his people, or among the people of Nephi, that he might preach the word of God unto them, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty, and that he might pull down, by the word of God, all the pride and craftiness and all the contentions which were among his people, seeing no way that he might reclaim them save it were in bearing down in pure testimony against them.” (19)
Alma reflected on his priorities, and when he saw that eternal things weren’t getting done as well as he wished because of other obligations, he decluttered his life, leaving a life of community honor and glory as chief judge, to devote himself full-time to preaching the word of God.
Does my life need decluttering so I can focus more on the things that have eternal value?
The Savior will ask things of us through the Spirit that are specific and tailored to our potential growth in His kingdom. They will be hard and require sacrifice…”David A. Bednar – Meek and Lowly of Heart, April 2018 General Conference
Alma was the type of person who was willing to do hard things and sacrifice his desires and wants for what God willed. He became strong and mighty with the Spirit because he was willing to do this.
- Am I willing to be one of God’s warriors, leaving behind things that don’t matter to do that which holds eternal value?
- Am I willing to more fully serve God, instead of my own desires?