The Lord chastens His people because He loves them and wants them to repent, so they aren’t led away and deceived by the evil one. Afflictions stir us up from a stagnant spiritual state and pushes us to make a choice.
Will we turn to God and repent, change our course?
Or will we take the easy way and give our will over to the Adversary?
Samuel tells the Nephites that the Lamanites are doing better than them. The Nephites preached to and converted the Lamanites, but have now left their God. Now, roles have switched, and it is the Lamanites who are the righteous ones, who are in “the path of their duty, and they do walk circumspectly before God, and they do observe to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments.” (5)
While the Nephites are building up the Gadiantons, even in government, the Lamanites are focusing on Christ, not politics. They “are striving with unwearied diligence that they may bring the remainder of their brethren to the knowledge of the truth; therefore there are many who do add to their numbers daily.” (6)
This is awesome. The Nephites were adding to the evil Gadiantons numbers because they were focusing on the wrong things—not Christ.
But the Lamanites are adding to their righteous numbers daily by keeping their focus on Christ.
Their conversion to God has brought “a change of heart unto them.” (7)
Therefore, as many as have come to this, ye know of yourselves are firm and steadfast in the faith, and in the thing wherewith they have been made free.”Helaman 15:8
Where is our focus?
If it is on anything else, on anyone else than Christ, we can lose our spiritual or physical freedoms (even when the person or cause we focus on promises freedom). Christ is the ONLY One who can truly deliver us.
A helpful tool
I find it helpful to step back from social media and worldly news at times, as our prophet has encouraged, with a 7-day social media fast. This helps me focus more on the Savior. Worldly causes, politics, and sensationalism so easily distracts and confuses. To step back and “be still” helps me spiritually recharge and Hear God better. He fills me with peace, not fear. He fills me with love, not hate or pride.
Fear to sin
I am in awe of the converted Lamanites’ faith and change in heart.
And ye know also that they have buried their weapons of war, and they fear to take them up lest by any means they should sin; yea, ye can see that they fear to sin—for behold they will suffer themselves that they be trodden down and slain by their enemies, and will not lift their swords against them, and this because of their faith in Christ.”Helaman 15:9
I’m always saying beware of fear. It leads to losing our freedom and our reasoning, because we give control of our emotions over to another. But there are certain types of fear that lead to good. Fear of sin (meaning we use repentance to keep sin from staining our souls for long). Fear of God (which doesn’t mean cowering and quivering, but showing deep respect and devotion).
The converted Lamanites, like Samuel, feared falling back into their sinful state so much that they would rather be trodden down and slain by their enemies than lift up their sword to fight.
A thought popped into my head as I studied this verse on how this could apply to the online battles we have today on social media.
- What is my attitude towards my brothers and sisters online?
- Do I attack with blunt, brute force to try to force my will or views on others?
- Or do I fear to sin or cause harm to another and willingly let myself be trodden down, rather than attack back?
I have been attacked online, and my gut reaction is to fight back. How dare they infer I am blind or ignorant or whatever! I’ll tell them off and prove they are the ignorant blind ones.
But when I step back and don’t react with a metaphoric swipe of my sword, when I pray for love for my enemies (even friends and family members), God takes my desire to “kill” or “attack” my enemies away.
One time, I had gone over many arguments as I laid in bed upset and hurt by a certain judgmental post I’d read the day before. It was a very “good” talk I created, with very valid points to attack back at the person I felt was in the wrong. And I planned to post my comments (in a kind way I was trying to work out in my head) the next morning.
But before I got up to start the new day, a powerful thought came to mind. Jesus, standing before His accusers, and how He answered them nothing. Jesus, the Creator of the world! Jesus, who would have had the BEST arguments ever and the BEST defense against His enemies.
Yet, He answered them nothing.
I did not post my rebuttal. Instead, I pushed the hurtful post from my mind and answered nothing. In a way, I let myself be trodden down rather than attack back and maybe fall into sin, by holding onto angry or prideful feelings that I was right and the other person was wrong.
That might not be what Christ tells us to do in every situation. There were also times He boldly stood up to His enemies and accusers. But not always.
That’s why it is so important to be humble and quiet enough to Hear His voice in EVERY situation we face.
Things we can do instead of judging others, is question our own motives and desires:
- Do I walk circumspectly before God?
- Do I keep His commandments and my covenants with Him?
- Do I strive with unwearied diligence to bring others to the saving ordinances of the gospel light? (not my political view)
- Am I firm and steadfast in my faith in Jesus Christ?
- Have I buried my weapons of rebellion that could cause me to sin or spiritually kill or judge another?