In the 43rd year, there is mostly peace, save for a little pride which was in the church. Not good. Not until the 46th year “was much contention and many dissensions” in the land. (3) The people spread northward into Jaredite lands. These lands are called desolate because of the lack of timber, from the misuse of ancient people, who must have built great buildings and used up all the trees, without planting new ones.
One sign that a people are wicked is when they don’t care for the earth. They strip it of all trees and other resources in their quest for power, prestige, luxury, whatever, without replenishing it.
The Nephites become “exceedingly expert in the working of cement; therefore they did build houses of cement, in the which they did dwell.” (7) God enlightened the Nephites to use the land to their benefit, but not hurt it. “…And they did suffer whatsoever tree should spring up upon the face of the land that it should grow up, that in time they might have timber to build their houses, yea, their cities, and their temples, and their synagogues, and their sanctuaries, and all manner of their buildings.” (9)
Industrious people preserve nature and use the earth’s resources wisely.
The people of Ammon go forth into the land northward. Mormon says a hundredth part cannot be contained in this record about his people. Mormon inserts a small verse about how the plates have been kept chiefly by the Nephites until they fell into transgression and have been “hunted, and driven forth, and slain, and scattered upon the face of the earth, and mixed with the Lamanites until they are no more called the Nephites, becoming wicked, and wild, and ferocious, yea, even becoming Lamanites.” (16)
We are always in the process of becoming in this life—becoming more Christlike or becoming more devilish.
- What side do my thoughts lean toward? Am I judgmental or merciful to others in how I think?
- What do my actions show about what I am becoming? Do I treat others with love and respect, or do I belittle, call names, or tear down?
- Do I rely on faith in Jesus Christ, repent daily, and work to stay humble, so that I can become like my Savior, through His atonement?
How to stand in a wicked world
Helaman rules righteously, though his nation is in turmoil. “…He did walk after the ways of his father, insomuch that he did prosper in the land.” (20) He has two sons—Nephi and Lehi—and “they began to grow up unto the Lord.” (21)
How do we grow up unto the Lord? What would that look like?
- Is there one thing I can do to improve this week and become more like my Savior, Jesus Christ?
- Is there something I can sacrifice to grow up unto the Lord?
- Is there something I can commit, to have His Spirit always with me?
Peace comes about in the 49th year, except for the Gadianton band that is still out in the hills causing trouble. Tens of thousands join the church in these years of prosperity. Mormon inserts himself into the narrative to teach us a lesson:
Thus we may see that the Lord is merciful unto all who will, in the sincerity of their hearts, call upon his holy name.” (27)
- Do I call upon God in the sincerity of my heart?
- When I am troubled, do I turn to Him and trust in His ways?
- Or do I allow myself to get distracted by ranting on social media and getting built up in vain ways there?
True peace comes from turning to and emulating our Savior.
How to distinguish between truth and error
Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked—”Helaman 3:29
In this world of chaos and so many lies, if we hold onto the word of God and turn to God for help in discerning between what is false and what is true, he will help us see through the cunning traps of the evil one. He will safely help us navigate dangerous waters and return to Him.
For a few years, the Nephites have “continual rejoicing in the land of Zarahemla, and in all the regions round about…” (31) There was “continual peace and great joy…” (32) as well. Until there wasn’t. ☹
Pride in the Church
In the 51st year of the reign of the judges, “there was peace also, save it were the pride which began to enter into the church—not into the church of God, but into the hearts of the people who professed to belong to the church of God—” (33) And they were lifted up in pride even to the persecution of many of their brethren. Now this was a great evil…” (34)
Gadianton’s band hiding in the wilderness were a blatant evil. Yet, Mormon calls out Church members as doing a “great evil” as well, by persecuting those who didn’t believe like them and for getting lifted up into pride.
Does this happen today?
I’ve quietly observed members and non-members alike on social media platforms, especially since June, and I have been deeply disturbed by how hateful and dividing many posts have become. I believe their motives are good. I believe most feel they are standing up for truth and righteousness or patriotic ideals. However, the way some handle their posts and treat half of the population (their brothers and sisters) can be deplorable. I see labeling, stereotyping, name-calling, contention, and outright pride (I’m better than you!). I see division, not unity.
This kind of behavior saddens me, because it comes from people who supposedly have made covenants with Christ to be kind and lift others up, not put them down.
I know members of the Church who are Democrat and who are Republican, and who don’t associate with either party. And there are good and bad people on both sides. Just being a Democrat doesn’t make one evil. Yet, many social media posts I’ve seen from Church family and friends lately infer this.
Political leanings don’t make us good or evil. It is what’s in our hearts.
When someone (of either party) belittles or name calls, their hearts aren’t right before God and they need to repent. All of us can fall prey to this natural man/woman behavior if we aren’t careful, even (or especially) when we believe we are fighting for what’s right.
This counsel from our prophet helps me know better how to interact with others who may be different or believe differently than me.
The Creator of us all calls on each of us to abandon attitudes of prejudice against any group of God’s children. Any of us who has prejudice toward another race needs to repent!
…Never has one wrong been corrected by a second wrong. Evil has never been resolved by more evil.
We need to foster our faith in the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.
We need to foster a fundamental respect for the human dignity of every human soul, regardless of their color, creed, or cause.
And we need to work tirelessly to build bridges of understanding rather than creating walls of segregation.
I plead with us to work together for peace, for mutual respect, and for an outpouring of love for all of God’s children.President Russell M. Nelson, Statement given June 2020
The Come Follow Me manual this week talked about the pride among the Nephites. And then it asked this question:
Do you see similar examples of pride in yourself?
Honestly, my first thought was: “Yes, I see pride in so many today.”
But that’s not what the question asked. It didn’t ask me if I could see pride in OTHERS. It asked if I saw similar examples of pride in MYSELF?
Ouch! Now we’re getting personal.
That’s a painful question to answer. When I’m truly honest with God and myself, I have to answer YES. I find myself susceptible to pride every single day. And it’s scary how easy pride creeps into my thoughts. It usually starts out with righteous desires or motives, but as soon as I forget Christ—even for a minute—my righteous desires turn to prideful judgments of others, like these:
- “Oh, wow, this girl needs to get a grip. She’s gone crazy in her posts. I don’t agree with her at all. I’m so glad I’m not crazy extreme like her.” [Do you see the subtle pride creeping into my attitude in that thought?]
- “How dare he accuse others of being socialist, racist (or whatever you want to insert here) and think he knows how I (or they) feel. He doesn’t. What an ignorant jerk. [And the pride creeps in again as I name-call in my head]
- “She thinks she’s so righteous, but I’ve read some of her comments and they are so hateful and vile. She’s totally not following the prophet.” [Ugh. Now, I’m the one judging unrighteously, because of pride that leads me to think I’m better than her.]
Pride is not a fun attribute to realize we have. That’s why we so easily justify or call it something else, instead of acknowledging it. No one wants to be prideful.
The universal sin
I believe pride is the universal sin—the gateway sin—that leads to every other vice out there. It is the number one enemy to God and will stop even righteous people abruptly in their tracks along the strait and narrow path leading back to Christ.
I admit to feeling pain and sorrow at finding pride in myself, but I would rather see my sins clearly than cover them up or pretend they don’t exist. Because when I see my sins and realize I’m not as good as I thought I was, I can be healed. The type of painful soul-searching and self-honesty humbles me enough to turn to Christ in repentance.
The greatest gift!
Repentance is the greatest gift God has given us. Our prophet has told us today that we need to make repentance a daily part of our life. At first, when I read this talk, I thought—Daily? Really? Are we that bad that we need to repent daily? Wouldn’t every other day, or even weekly at the sacrament suffice?
The more thoroughly I’ve searched my own heart and been honest about my intents and judgments of others, I have come to realize that YES! We do need to repent daily. That is the only way to not fall prey to that creeping weed of pride that pops into our fertile spiritual soil constantly, if we do not let Christ’s atonement annihilate it every day.
When I only weed occasionally in my yard, the weeds get overwhelming. But if I pick a few weeds every day, they don’t get on top of me.
I believe pride is the same. We must daily repent and humble ourselves before God and remember Him always—because when we forget him for even a few seconds as we post on Facebook or Instagram in a rant, pride can lead us to say or do something we will regret. Something that might hurt another. Something that might cause contention or divide, instead of uniting as children of God.
Don’t let pride choke out humility
Mormon points out how the Nephites let pride overwhelm them. Instead of rooting it out while it was small, they let it “grow upon them from day to day.” (36)
The good news is, though many grew in pride, others grew in humility. We get to choose which one we let grow in our lives, and which we will cast out. The humble believers turned to God.
They did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.”Helaman 3:35
Am I willing to put aside my own will and selfish desires and yield my heart unto God? That means I will repent every day, at the first sign of pride.
For me, that means stopping in the middle of a social media post when I turn to rant, and repenting and deleting what I was going to say, because I am not in the right frame of mind. It means apologizing immediately when I realize my thoughts have turned prideful, leading me to judge another or call them a mean name in my head or in conversation with another person.
The other night, I stewed in bed about a hateful post I wanted to respond to the next day on social media. It bothered me and I spent hours in bed forming arguments to retort to the Church member who had posted it and stand up for those she had belittled and labeled. In the midst of forming arguments in my head, I would sporadically pray to God to help take my prideful thoughts away (because I had many, and I thankfully was aware of them as they came to me—because I’ve been thinking about pride and humility a lot lately).
Yet, I felt I had to stand for the right. The person hadn’t offended me necessarily, but I felt her words damaged a good half of the population and divided Church members and Americans more than they already are.
But in the middle of my prayer, I very clearly remembered how Jesus answered his accusers nothing. And peace suddenly filled my heart. I realized that no good would come from arguing with this person at this time. Leaving the matter be, trusting in this person’s innate goodness to see the right for herself, and trusting that God can soften hearts better with love than a well-formed articulate argument, I stopped obsessing over how to respond….and I didn’t respond with words at all. I let the matter go.
Maybe in the future, God will prompt me to speak up. But hopefully, He will help me become more like Him in the mean time—more slow to anger, more merciful in my judgments, and more kind in how I treat others (even in my thoughts).
Personal revelation is so important. It’s more important than politics. It’s more important than social issues. It’s more important than anything worldly. When we turn to God in humility to ask for help discerning between truth and error and ask Him to help us keep the pride weeds out of our spiritual ground, He will enlighten us in each situation we go into, with Him as our companion, to know how to interact in loving, uniting, respectful, and empathetic ways.