The missionary work among the Zoramites starts out with a bang. Alma and the others preach in their synagogues, their homes, and in their streets, just like our missionaries do.
“After much labor among them, they began to have success among the poor class of people.” (2)
These people were cast out and shunned because of their economic status and their poor apparel, of all things.
Do we do this today? Shun or mock others who may not wear the latest styles or fashions? Shun people who aren’t in the same money level as us? Let’s work hard not to be this type of person.
These poor Zoramites “were poor as to things of the world; and also they were poor in heart,” (6) which led them to be humble enough to be taught.
To hear the word of God, we must be prepared.
How do I prepare to hear and be taught the word of God?
Humility seemed to be key in the poor being willing to listen.
To be humble is to recognize gratefully our dependence on the Lord—to understand that we have constant need for His support. Humility is an acknowledgement that our talents and abilities are gifts from God. It is not a sign of weakness, timidity, or fear; it is an indication that we know where our true strength lies. We can be both humble and fearless. We can be both humble and courageous.” Humility – Gospel TopicsHumility – Gospel Topics
Alma is preaching to all the Zoramites on a hill called Onidah when a large group of these poor approach him to ask what they should do.
Behold, what shall these my brethren do, for they are despised of all men because of their poverty, yea, and more especially by our priests; for they have cast us out of our synagogues which we have labored abundantly to build with our own hands; and they have cast us out because of our exceeding poverty and we have no place to worship our God; and behold what shall we do?”Alma 32:5
Alma turns to the poor “and he beheld with great joy; for he beheld that their afflictions had truly humbled them, and that they were in a preparation to hear the word.” (6)
Trials can either harden us or humble us. Depends on how we react to them.
Do we turn to the Lord and ask for His enabling help, or do we turn away and curse Him for our problems?
Alma says, “Behold I say unto you, do ye suppose that ye cannot worship God save it be in your synagogues only? (10) And moreover, I would ask, do ye suppose that ye must not worship God only one in a week?” (11)
He is preparing them to ask questions. Their culture has perverted their worship so they believe they need the synagogue to worship in, but Alma is opening up their minds to other possibilities.
He tells them to look on the bright side. Since they have been cast out, they are humble and “may learn wisdom.” (12) They have been “compelled to be humble…and now surely, whosoever repenteth shall find mercy; and he that findeth mercy and endureth to the end the same shall be saved.” (13)
Alma talks about faith—how when people ask for signs, they are not demonstrating faith. [Remember Zeezrom?]
And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.”Alma 32:21
The Church website has even more information about faith in Jesus Christ.
Faith is a principle of action and power.
In order for faith to lead to salvation, it must be centered in the Lord Jesus Christ. We can exercise faith in Jesus Christ when we have an assurance that He exists, a correct idea of His character, and a knowledge that we are striving to live according to His will.
Faith is much more than passive belief. We express our faith through action—by the way we live.Faith in Jesus Christ – Gospel Topics
What do my actions express to God about my faith?
When Christ was on the earth, He seemed to be able to see faith in others. To one person, He said, “Great is thy faith.” To another, “O ye of little faith.” He questioned some with, “Where is your faith?” And He distinguished yet another with, “[In all Israel] I have not found so great faith.”
If the Savior was with me now, how would He see my faith? Would it be strong, burning bright? Or would He tell me it was lacking and encourage me to do better?
Faith emits a spiritual light, and that light is discernible. Faith in Jesus Christ is a gift from heaven that comes as we choose to believe and as we seek to hold on to it. Your faith is either growing stronger or becoming weaker. Faith is a principle of power, important not only in this life but also in our progression beyond the veil. By the grace of Christ, we will one day be saved through faith on His name. The future of your faith is not by chance, but by choice.”Faith is Not By Chance, but by Choice – Neil L. Andersen (2015)
The key point here is: How we live each day—the choices that we make—is either increasing our faith or diminishing it.
All the small and simple things we can do make a difference, like prayer, studying God’s words, obedience, covenant-keeping, honesty, purity of thought and deed, unselfishness. And vice versa, the small bad things we do chip away at faith, until we have none, like Zeezrom in a previous chapter showed.
Jesus prayed for Peter, that his faith would fail not. I believe He does this for as well, because there is an adversary who delights in destroying our faith! The devil’s only goal is to make us miserable like himself.
Alma teaches the poor Zoramites how to exercise and strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ. He tells them “that God is merciful unto all who believe on his name; therefore he desireth, in the first place, that ye should believe, yea, even on his word. (22)
What is His word?
I’ll get into exploring that more in the next post. For now, check out Alma’s awesome encouragement.
But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise even a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.”Alma 32:27
He’s speaking about our spirits. Sin makes them go to sleep. When we awake and ‘arouse our faculties’, we are spiritually active and alive. Experimenting suggests asking questions, seeking answers. It isn’t a passive study of the gospel. It is mighty prayer combined with pondering, fasting, seeking, asking.
It can be easy to get sleepy in the gospel and not think much about it. But when we get sleepy, our minds and hearts turn off. We don’t think deeper about spiritual matters and the WHY behind everything we do.
We can ask questions such as: Why do I take the sacrament each week? Why do I go to church? Why do I read the scriptures? Why do I pray? Why do I serve God?
When we stop questioning why we are doing or thinking certain ways, we become slumbering sloths.
To awake means to ask these deeper and harder questions, to search for the meaning behind why we do what we do.
This helps us get to the heart of things—and that is where God is found. That is where we will find meaning and motivation to serve our Father.