Good Wednesday Everyone!
Do you realize how long you've been reading these epistles for? And yet every week you expect me to come up with something new to say! I guess it's a good thing that a mission gives you a lot to talk about week by week!
Two Saturdays ago Elder Smith got the flu, we worked Sunday monday Tuesday, then on Wednesday he blew his ankle out VERY badly. Aweful sprain. Unfortunately there was so much stuff that simply needed to be done, it hasn't gotten much rest, and yet we stlil haven't gotten to work in our area very much. Luckily it has given us a lot of time to study and read the Book of Mormon!
So, today I will share a thought that I read this morning.
Alma Chapter 1, verses 21-24
21 Now there was a strict law among the people of the church, that there should not any man, belonging to the church, arise and persecute those that did not belong to the church, and that there should be no persecution among themselves.
22 Nevertheless, there were many among them who began to be proud, and began to contend warmly with their adversaries, even unto blows; yea, they would smite one another with their fists.
23 Now this was in the second year of the reign of Alma, and it was a cause of much affliction to the church; yea, it was the cause of much trial with the church.
24 For the hearts of many were hardened, and their names were blotted out, that they were remembered no more among the people of God. And also many withdrew themselves from among them.
There's an intersting lesson in these verses to me. These people were mebers of the true church. They had the true gospel. The knowledge that they had the truth, however, went to their heads and made them proud. So proud, in fact that they began to "contend warmly with their adversaries, even unto blows; yea, they would smite one another with their fists."
This kind of behaviour was strictly against the very gospel and church which they were claiming to defend! This pathetically ironic behaviour came from a root problem that they allowed to gradually grow within them: Pride.
Like any talent or blessing, membership in the true church of Jesus Christ is a gift from God, which not all people are priviledged to have access to. Like any other talent, we can not take pride in this gift, but merely thank the Lord for bestowing it upon us. What began in these members of the church as a genuine gratitude for the truth, turned in to a false belief that because they had the truth, they were better than their fellow-men. This fallacy lead them to that wicked and pervasive sin: Pride. The Prideful belief that by virtue of their receiving a blessing others had not, they were better than those others.
We see the outcome of this. "it was a cause of much affliction to the church; yea, it was the cause of much trial with the church. " and of those who pridefully hardened their hearts we read, "and their names were blotted out, that they were remembered no more among the people of God. And also many withdrew themselves from among them."
Now it does not necessarily say that those whose names were blotted out were the same who came to blows defending the church, but I believe that at least a goodly portion of those who came to blows, did in fact end up removing themselves from the church. I can say that with some certainty because it is true to the pattern of apostasy. They rose themselves up, beyond the teachings of their leaders, to the point that they, thinking themselves justified, behaved in a way that the church condemned. I can only imagine when their church leaders told them they ought not to act that way, they would be offended (another symptom of pride) and turn their back to the church, thinking it had wronged them and escort themselves to the doors.
There are many lessons to learn as we ponder these events. It is a potent reminder that we, being blessed, aught to be our brother's servant, not overlord, and that we have a duty to adhere strictly to the teachings of the living Prophet and Apostles, not to wander off in to our own 'strange paths' beacuse in those paths we will eventually be lost.
I love you all. Stay true. Stay strong. Be humble and take direction, for in that is salvation.
-Elder Ted E. Bear