Pride – A Block to Our Happiness (Alma 42:30)

In Alma 42, Alma is still teaching his son, Corianton. He says something very interesting to his son:

“O my son, I desire that ye should deny the justice of God no more. Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sins, by denying the justice of God; but do you let the justice of God, and his mercy, and his long-suffering have full sway in your heart; and let it bring you down to the dust in humility.” – Alma 42:30

Pride so often stands in the way of happiness.

Instead of changing, so many people excuse their sins by denying the justice of God, instead. I can see why this is a common pattern, but it doesn’t work!

We can deny God and His justice all we want, but our denial of God doesn’t make God non-existent. We can deny God and His justice all we want, but we are still subject to it.

Think of it this way. We may “disagree” with gravity. We may even let our pride in the matter wrap and distort our minds so much that we then deny the law of gravity. Despite such denial, if we stood at the edge of a cliff and jumped, we’d soon find that we were still subject to it.

Instead of denying God’s justice as a way to “justify” ourselves, we ought to simply accept the justice of God. The beauty of accepting God’s justice is that we can also accept the companion blessing He has offered us through Christ: His mercy.

Through accepting God’s justice and Christ’s atonement, we then will humble ourselves to let Christ’s Atonement take place in our lives. We do this by submitting to Him – by being righteous. And the result…HAPPINESS!!!

Denial gets us nowhere. Accept. Be humble. Obey. Be happy!

Accepting and Rejoicing in God’s Blessings (Alma 26:16)

I’ve noticed a trend lately. Maybe it’s a trend in only myself…but maybe not. It seems like we can’t accept the way that God has blessed us in our lives. I’m not saying this the way I mean it. It seems like it is popular to only notice our shortcomings and our “opportunities for growth” instead of rejoicing in the ways that the Lord has blessed and strengthened us.

I’ll give an example. Let’s say you meet someone who is really fit. You might say to her, “Hey, you are so fit and strong. You look great.”

What do you think her response will be? Most of the time it goes something like this, “Thanks, but you shouldn’t say that. My __(insert some kind of dissatisfied body part)____ is not what I’d like it to be.”

Why can’t she say, “Thanks. The Lord has really blessed me to get a handle on my health and fitness.”

Or maybe you meet someone who is very wise with her use of time and talents. You might say to her, “You are so organized!”

What would be her response? Probably something like, “Oh, no. You should see my desk…”

I do this. In fact, it is so common, I find myself preemptively discrediting myself – I’m not sure why. I guess it is to appear humble. And it happens all the time.

Thankfully, we have the Book of Mormon in these latter days. And we can see that many of our foibles aren’t relegated only to this time or to a specific sex. It seems like the faithful have had a hard time with acceptance and rejoicing in the blessings of the Lord for a long time. I think it comes from a good place. We don’t want to appear proud. But it is important to be honest. God is perfectly honest, and He wants us to be, too.

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In Alma, we read about the experience of the sons of Mosiah preaching the gospel to the Lamanites. After fourteen years, they experienced many hardships and also unimagined success. As they were traveling back to Zarahemla, Ammon begins to rejoice in the miracles and blessings that they experienced during their missions.

In fact, his joyfulness caused his own brother to comment to Ammon:

“And it came to pass that when Ammon had said these words, his brother Aaron rebuked him, saying: Ammon, I fear that thy joy doth carry thee away unto boasting.” – Alma 26:10

After this brief censure, Ammon responds:

“But Ammon said unto him: I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God.” – Alma 26:11

Why shouldn’t Ammon rejoice?! He had just spent the last fourteen years of his life serving people. He had experienced highs and lows. He saw the fruits of his labors, and was feeling great joy in this fruit. I’m sure that he also developed relationships with many of the people served. There is a difference between pride and rejoicing because God is good and has blessed us.

Ammon later states:

“Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel.” – Alma 26:16

I love this! I need to apply this into my life, too. Who can glory too much in the Lord? It isn’t wrong to accept and rejoice in the blessings and successes He has given us. This is a show of our gratitude and love for Him.

I have struggled with this. There are times when people pay me a compliment. I have a hard time accepting it for various reasons 1) I feel inadequate 2) I don’t want to become prideful, and I know that my successes are 100% results of blessings of God.

Instead of beating around the bush and acting shy, I can say thanks. Instead of saying, “You shouldn’t say that…” in an I’m not worthy tone, I can use the opportunity to glorify and testify of God who has blessed me in the first place. I can recognize the hand that God has had in my life, accept His blessings, and remember Ammon’s honest question, who can glory too much in the Lord?

The Attributes of a Saint (Alma 7:23-24)

Yesterday, I wrote about how the people of Zarahemla were corrupting the religion. I wrote a pretty exhaustive list of the bad things they were doing.

Today, we get a list of what faithful saints should, instead, be doing.

“And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive.

And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works.” – Alma 7:23-24

These attributes of a saint are actually the keys to a joyful life

  • Be humble
  • Be submissive
  • Be gentle
  • Be easy to be entreated
  • Be full of patience and all long-suffering
  • Be temperate
  • Be diligent in keeping God’s commandments
  • Ask for what we need – both spiritual and temporal
  • Be grateful
  • Be faithful
  • Be hopeful
  • Be charitable

When we work to cultivate these attributes, then good works will abound.

when good works abound, then blessings and peace abounds.

It’s such a good deal. Yes, this list might be hard at times. I think that the hardest part is that it requires us to give up our pride and trust in something else. But the result is peace! Our pride is such a little cost for such a great reward.

The Double Edged Sword of Truth (Mosiah 13:8)

In Mosiah Chapters 12-15, Abinadi the prophet is delivering a message to the wicked priests of King Noah.

Abinadi preaches a message of truth. It is, for the most part a message of hope. It is the message that Christ will come. It is the message of the gospel and how God’s commandments bring us joy and peace in this life and in the life to come.

Of course, the gospel of Christ is also a message of our agency. We don’t have to choose to keep the commandments. We don’t have to choose to covenant with Him. We can do whatever we want to do. However, we are warned that when we don’t keep the commandments, then we will experience pain and misery.

Abinadi is teaching the priests truth. This message is “laws of the universe” kind of stuff. That might not make sense. What I mean is – the connection between righteousness and joy is as sure of a universal truth as gravity is. You can’t really disagree with the law of gravity. It’s a law.

I mean, I guess you could disagree with it. But you are still susceptible to it, and must be obedient to it or else experience grave results. The Lord’s laws are just as sure. But not everyone accepts or rejoices in truth.

The Priests, who claimed to be preaching the gospel, didn’t rejoice at Abinadi’s words. They didn’t nod their heads and give an “amen.” Instead, we read:

” Ye see that ye have not power to slay me, therefore I finish my message. Yea, and I perceive that it cuts you to your hearts because I tell you the truth concerning your iniquities.

Yea, and my words fill you with wonder and amazement, and with anger.” – Mosiah 13:7-8

I’ll try to cut the priests some slack. Abinadi was calling them out on their wickedness. This is because they were ripening for destruction, and God loves His children. He sent a prophet to warn them – with the hope that they would repent and unite themselves again with a God who loves them and would protect them. It isn’t always easy to hear or take correction – especially if you’re somewhat fond of your sin.

So, I can learn a lesson from these wicked priests, and ask myself, Do I respond in like manner? When someone corrects me, am I filled with “wonder, amazement, and anger?” or do I swallow my pride, accept correction, and seek to repair my relationship with God?

Don’t Confuse Pleasure with Joy (1 Nephi 11:36)

“And the multitude of the earth was gathered together; and I beheld that they were in a large and spacious building, like unto the building which my father saw. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Behold the world and the wisdom thereof; yea, behold the house of Israel hath gathered together to fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

36 And it came to pass that I saw and bear record, that the great and spacious building was the pride of the world; and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Thus shall be the destruction of all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, that shall fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” – 1 Nephi 11:35-36

So – in this verse, Nephi is learning about the interpretation of his father, Lehi’s dream. Lehi had seen a great and spacious building. This building is full of people. It sounds like a pretty good time:

“And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit.” – 1 Nephi 8:27

The people are looking good. They’re having a good laugh at the expense of those who are on the “strait and narrow.” I don’t know, but I’ve always imagined this great and spacious building as a giant party or something. The people are dressed very nicely, and I’m guessing that they are doing all of the things that will give them pleasure and satisfaction.

I mean, the great and spacious building – not the building itself, but the people inside it and its representation – is extremely alluring. Even after partaking of the fruit of the tree of life, some people are ashamed and want to go to the great and spacious building. Many people wander off and become lost – all so they can get into this elusive, beautiful, magnificent building – with its beautiful, magnificent and posh people.

Now, though things seem to be going great for the people in the great and spacious building, it is floating in the air, and soon enough it crashes to the ground. And, as the angel states, “the fall thereof was exceedingly great.”

So – let’s read between the lines. What would happen if a great and spacious building, full of reveling people – dressed nicely and having a good laugh – falls? What would happen to those people? Yikes. It all becomes a little less alluring.

Satan’s way, though glittering and attractive, is ultimately death and misery.

Joy is simple. It is steadfast. It is comfort during trial. It is not glittering or sexy. It is pure. It is sweet. And it is enduring. The joy that comes from God is His pure love, and it endures forever.

It’s easy to be confused. We are natural beings and therefore have natural desires. But Satan’s way, no matter how it is packaged, no matter how much pleasure you can take in the moment, always ends the same way – shattered, a puff of smoke, and illusion that leaves you with misery and pain.