Wednesday, December 13, 2006

2 Nephi 2

"he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain" (v. 2)


    to make or declare sacred; set apart or dedicate to the service of a deity: to consecrate a new church building.
    to make (something) an object of honor or veneration; hallow: a custom consecrated by time.
    to devote or dedicate to some purpose: a life consecrated to science.
    to admit or ordain to a sacred office, esp. to the episcopate.
    to change (bread and wine) into the Eucharist.

The way that "consecrate" is used in verse two seems to best fit the first definition. Jacob had experienced many hardships because of his older brothers. Heavenly Father was not going to let those experiences ruin Jacob. Also, Jacob must have decided to not let those bad experiences negatively affect him. Because of his attitude, Heavenly Father was able to turn those bad experiences into a spiritual gain for Jacob.

I tend to think that the hardships heaped on Jacob galvanized his testimony of the Gospel. Some people will become bitter about the trials they face and they collapse under the "pressure." Others confront their trials and plead with the Lord for strength to bear them. Because of the way they react to the trials, their faith increases and they see their spiritual strength increase once the trial has ended. I think this is what Lehi means when he told Jacob that God would consecrate his afflictions for his gain.

Indeed Jacob's faith was so great that he beheld God's glory in his youth (v. 3).

Broken Heart and Contrite Spirit (v. 7)

From Guide to the Scriptures, the topic “broken heart” states, “To have a broken heart is to be humble, contrite, repentant, and meek—that is, receptive to the will of God.”

Contrite - Deeply affected with grief and regret for having done wrong; penitent; as, "a contrite sinner." Contrite derives from Latin conterere "to rub away, to grind" hence "to obliterate, to abase"

There are several references in the scriptures that mention a broken heart and a contrite spirit. I tend to think that a person whose heart is not broken is a person who has a lot of pride. His attitude would be very strong and he would probably not be very receptive to change. I can see a home teacher or bishop counseling this person to come to church or to pay his tithing or to attend the temple or to repent and this person would scoff at these suggestions.

On the other hand, a person with a broken heart and a contrite spirit would be very receptive to suggestions from his bishop, wife or home teacher. Either out of his own meekness or out of compulsion, he sees that his own way is not the best way and he acknowledges that the Lord can better lead him to happiness.

If you dissect the definition of contrite, you can get a pretty good idea about what we should do to our spirits. We must rub away all the pride in our hearts. We must grind our rock-solid egos to sand so that at the Savior’s breath our spirits are swayed. We must obliterate our spirits so that the Lord can build them up to his standard.

Often to correct a mis-aligned bone in a person’s body, the doctor must break it then set it and then let it heal. Jill’s brother had his nose broken many times and it healed incorrectly. To remedy this problem, the doctors broke his nose, corrected it and then let it heal. It looks and feels much better for him now. We must do the same with our hearts … not our physical hearts, but our spiritual hearts … our desires. We must break them so that they have no will. Then we must let the Master Healer take our heart and heal it. Then our desires will be the Lord’s desires.

“How great the importance … “

I still remember watching a video in the MTC depicting the death and resurrection of Christ and then at the end of the video 2 Nephi 2:8 is flashed up on the screen. It was a very moving and motivating video.

I think the reason that video was so motivating and the reason why this verse is so beautiful is because they encapsulate the essences of the Gospel of Christ. Simply put, we cannot return to live with God in the state we are in. The only way we can return to His presence is through the mercy of Christ. Without Christ, we would not even have a chance at redemption.

Verse 10 further explains that because of Christ, we can be brought before God to be judged. The verse also explains a universal truth … there must be a standard in order for happiness and misery to exist.

Everything has its opposite. We cannot be happy without misery. Every deed has either a punishment or reward attached to it. Without that “motivation” what would be our purpose? And if we have no purpose, then God has no purpose. Verse 12 has a very insightful comment, “there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation.” In other words, if no standard existed, then none of God’s creations would have had a purpose.

Verse 13 explains a very important principal in the Mormon doctrine. Some (those who want “freedom” in everything) would say that there should be no laws … no rules. If there were no laws, then there would be no law-breakers and no sinners. And if there are no sinners, then righteousness does not exist. And if there is no righteousness then there is no happiness.

I believe there are two general points of view in the world … those who would have anarchy (only power exists) and those who believe in order. I personally think those civilizations who have prescribed to the order belief (rule of law and morality) have lingered longer and have brought more peace and prosperity to the world than those tribes who want anarchy. God’s kingdom is the ultimate order of peace and prosperity. Satan would have the whole world degrade itself to a sphere of blood-thirsty rapists.

Thankfully there is a God and He is the Standard. Our happiness depends upon Him. He has not left us alone. He has given us His Son and he has given us prophets to teach us the way of happiness so that we might find joy in this life and for eternity.

As verse 25 states, “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” This life is not about suffering. It is about finding lasting happiness.

Lastly, we are reminded that we have a choice. We can either choose liberty and happiness or captivity and misery (v. 27).

2 Nephi 2 is a wonderful chapter. It has the plain and precious truths that our world so desperately needs. If you are reading this, please take the time to re-read 2 Nephi 2 and to study it. Think about it and ask Heavenly Father if it is true. I am confident that you will find that the principals in this chapter will help you build a foundation for understanding why God does the things he does.

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