In this chapter, Alma speaks to his other son, Shiblon, who sounds like a really great guy. He starts by telling him the same truth he told Helaman: if you keep the commandments of God you will prosper. If you don’t, you won’t. (1)
He praises Shiblon’s “steadiness and…faithfulness unto God.” (2) and encourages him to endure to the end in keeping God’s commandments. Alma has had great joy in his son already because of Shiblon’s spiritual gifts, which he exhibited among the Zoramites. These traits include: “faithfulness and thy diligence, and thy patience and thy long-suffering…” (3)
Am I faithful to God? Could He call me steady in His service?
Am I diligent? Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines diligent as “characterized by steady, earnest, and energetic effort.” Could these words describe my effort in keeping God’s commandments and serving Him? Where do I fall short? How could I do better?
Am I patient? Again, the dictionary defines this trait as: “steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity; not hasty or impetuous, manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain; bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint.” These definitions make me know I could do better in this area.
Steadiness seems inherent in many of these traits. Diligent means steady effort. Patient means steady amidst opposition.
Am I long-suffering? The dictionary defines this as “patiently enduring lasting offense or hardship.” Patience is needed for long-suffering.
The Zoramites had persecuted Shiblon. He’d been in bonds. He’d been stoned. Yet, he “did bear all these things with patience because the Lord was with thee; and now thou knowest that the Lord did deliver thee.” (4)
Trust seems to grow from those traits listed above. Shiblon had faith, diligence, patience, and long-suffering, which helped him Trust that God was with him through all his persecutions. And he had trust that he would eventually be delivered by God.
Do I trust God with all my heart, might, mind, and strength?
Am I lacking in any way in trusting Him?
How could I strengthen my trust in the Lord?
Alma tells Shiblon that when we trust in God, He will always deliver us out of our afflictions and trials. Not from them, necessarily. We will suffer and be stretched so we can grow, but if we put our full trust in God, He will, in His due time, deliver us and “ye shall be lifted up at the last day.” (5)
Now, father tells son about his conversion, how he was born of God. He tells him this story that he may know wisdom, “that ye may learn of me that there is no other way or means whereby man can be saved, only in and through Christ. Behold, he is the life and the light of the world. Behold, he is the word of truth and righteousness.” (9)
Is my testimony strong, like Alma’s, where I could teach my children or others with complete faith that Christ is the only way and means of salvation?
Alma tells Shiblon to continue to be diligent and teach God’s words, and to be “temperate in all things.” (10)
What does it mean to be temperate in all things?
Merriam-Webster again comes to my rescue. It defines temperate to mean: “keeping or held within limits; not extreme or excessive; mild; moderate in indulgence of appetite or desire.”
To me, this means don’t take any one concept (even a good one) and obsess over it. This could be a religious concept, a political one, a social one, or other. Someone can take a good concept or principle and only focus on that, to the exclusion of others, and then they become extremists in that issue…and it’s not so good anymore. Moderation in all things.
Alma counsels Shiblon to not be caught up in pride. “…Do not boast in your own wisdom, nor of your much strength.” (11)
Use boldness, but not overbearance; and also see that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love; see that ye refrain from idleness.”Alma 38:12
I find it interesting that love comes from bridling our passions.
A bridle for a horse allows a rider to control the horse’s head, and also the speed and direction of the horse. This is one of the most important parts of communication with the horse when it is being ridden.
When we bridle our passions, it allows us to be in control, instead of being controlled by outside forces. We can change the speed or direction we’re going and communicate love more with self-control.
To conclude, Alma tells Shiblon not to pray as the Zoramites do, “but rather say: O Lord, forgive my unworthiness, and remember my brethren in mercy—yea, acknowledge your unworthiness before God at all times.” (14)
Humility, Repentance, Forgiveness, and Love. Those help our hearts stay spiritually healthy.
Am I exercising these principles in my life? Am I bridling my passions (or opinions) so I stay in control and am blessed to love others, as Christ loves them?