The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is commonly known as the Mormon church because of our belief in the Book of Mormon … Mormon being the name of the man who abridged the plates and was the principal author and historian of the Nephites and Lamanites. Mormon tells us that he was named after the land of Mormon where Alma established the church (3 Nephi 5:12). In Mosiah 18:4, we learn that the land of Mormon received its name "from the king" (perhaps Zeniff). We do not know why the king named the land Mormon.
We have learned more information from Joseph Smith. In Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, we learn that Joseph taught in 1843 that Mormon means "more good." President Hinckley wrote an article that tied into this subject in the November 1990 Ensign. ("Mormon Should Mean 'More Good,'" Ensign, November 1990, p. 52)
The land of Mormon was a sacred place for those first members of the church in the Book of Mormon. Mosiah 18:30 says, "how beautiful are they to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer; yea, and how blessed are they, for they shall sing to his praise forever."
We all hold sacred places dear to our hearts. I shall always hold the Boise temple dear in my heart. That is the place of many important events in my life. In 1984, I toured the Boise temple before it was dedicated and I was able to be a part of its dedication. I remember sitting in one of the rooms with my parents and listening to President Hinckley dedicate it. After turning 12, I remember the many times I went on baptismal excursions and the peaceful feelings I felt while performing that sacred work. In March 1995, I entered the temple to receive my endowment. A few years later in the summer of 1998, I was driving to Boise from Provo to meet my then girlfriend for the weekend. I did not know where she lived so she told me to meet her at the temple. After driving all day, I pulled into the temple parking lot and we embraced. That weekend I proposed to her and later that year we were married in the same temple. That too was a very special and beautiful day in my life … in the middle of winter; we enjoyed a day of spring.
Alma taught his followers the gospel of Jesus Christ. To show their allegiance to Him, they entered into a covenant to serve Him through all their lives.
"Willing to bear one another's burdens, that they might be light"
The natural man would have us only look upon ourselves and not think beyond our own needs. The Gospel teaches us to help others. Bearing one another's burdens means looking after the physical and spiritual needs and cares of others.
President Monson spoke of an example of bearing on another's burdens in the October 2006 General Conference. He related a story of a girl who was diagnosed with cancer in her leg. He continues, "Some time ago, I learned that in her darkest hour, when any future appeared somewhat grim, she learned that her leg where the cancer was situated would require multiple surgeries. A long-planned hike with her Young Women class up a rugged trail to Timpanogos Cave—located in the Wasatch Mountains about 40 miles south of Salt Lake City, Utah—was out of the question, she thought. Jami told her friends they would have to undertake the hike without her. I’m confident there was a catch in her voice and disappointment in her heart. But then the other young women responded emphatically, “No, Jami, you are going with us!”
“But I can’t walk,” came the anguished reply.
“Then, Jami, we’ll carry you to the top!” And they did. (Thomas S. Monson, “How Firm a Foundation,” Ensign, Nov 2006, 62, 67–68)
We too can bear one another's burdens if we but pay attention and follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost. In another talk in the October 2006 General Conference, Elder Don R. Clarke related the story of how his grandfather was burdened with blindness at the young age of 34. His grandfather, Alma Larsen received a note saying that he would have to pay $195 to carry the mortgage over for another year. In 1919, $195 was a lot of money. Alma did not know what to do to pay the debt. Elder Clarke continues recounting the story, "In his journal, Grandfather recounts: “I shall never forget that cold evening, just before Christmas of 1919. It looked as though we would lose the farm. My daughter, Gladys, laid a slip of paper in my hand and said, ‘This came in the mail today.’ I took it to her mother and asked her what it was. This is what my wife read to me, ‘Dear Brother Larsen, I’ve had you on my mind all day today. I am wondering if you are in financial trouble. If you are, I have $200 you may have.’ The letter was signed ‘Jim Drinkwater.’ Jim was a small, crippled man, and he would have been the last man on earth that anyone would have thought had that much money on hand. I went to his house that night and he said, ‘Brother Larsen, I received a wireless message from heaven this morning, and I could not get you off my mind all day. I was sure you were in financial trouble.’ Brother Drinkwater gave me $200 and we sent the $195 to the mortgage company, and with the extra $5 we bought boots and clothes for the children. Santa Claus did come that year.” (Don R. Clarke, “Becoming Instruments in the Hands of God,” Ensign, Nov 2006, 97–99)
Just as Jim Drinkwater received a "wireless message", so too can we, if we are listening, can receive a "wireless message" to help bear others' burdens.
"Willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea and comfort those that stand in need of comfort"
As we bear one another's burdens, we do not have to limit our service to temporal things. Very often it is emotional support that we need to lend others. Many are lonely and depressed. To alleviate their suffering, all that is needed is a visit or a hug and a smile.
My father taught me a lot about comforting those that stand in need of comfort. For several years he was a home teacher for a few elderly people who lived alone. We would regularly visit Max Urry and Brother Sorenson (I can't remember his first name) and the Jones family. I will probably never forget one visit we paid to Brother Sorenson in the dead of winter. Brother Sorenson only had one leg and he lived in a drafty old house on the east-side of town. The first time I walked into his home, I felt so sorry for him. All around his home were piles of books and magazines. He had an old stove and the room where he sat was lit with a single light bulb that cast long shadows on the walls. The look on my dad's face is what I remember the most … his face shined … he was happy to be serving and visiting Brother Sorenson. As I looked at my dad, I wasn't so depressed by the surroundings and I began to learn what it meant to comfort those that stand in need of comfort … I began to think outside of myself. Of course, Brother Sorenson was happy to receive visitors that day too and I'm sure we brightened his day.
"Stand as a witness of God at all times and in all things, and in all places … until death"
How do we stand as a witness of God? By our very actions and words and by keeping the commandments our lives become a testimony of the Gospel of Christ. When others see our good works, we glorify our Father in Heaven (Matt. 5:16). We can also bear testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When we lift other's burdens and mourn and comfort those that mourn and stand in need of comfort, we are standing as a witness of God. In other words, as we live the Gospel, we stand as a witness of God.
Also, our actions should not be limited to one day a week. We ought to stand as a witness of God in all places and times whether at church, school, work, play or social gatherings. We should not adjust our demeanor according to circumstances … we should act the same (Christ-like) in every place and all the time (see M. Russell Ballard, “Standing for Truth and Right,” Ensign, Nov 1997, 37).
"That he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you"
If we do these things and keep the commandments, then God will bless us with His spirit more abundantly. As we receive a greater portion of His spirit, we will serve others more and the cycle will continue.
No Contention, but Unity
Alma and those who followed him were taught that there should be no contention among them, "but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another." (Mosiah 18:21)
I love to read. Many of the things I read throughout the day are blogs. Some blogs that I read are political in nature while others deal with such things as religion and chess. Because blogs enable on-line discussion of topics, inevitably disputes arise between conflicting opinions on various subjects. Some disputes are very civilized and those with contrasting opinions debate respectfully. Others, however, turn sour as pure contention erupts. While studying the topic of contention, I found a very good article by Elder Nelson on the subject. Quite appropriately he said,
"What can we do to combat this canker of contention? What steps may each of us take to supplant the spirit of contention with a spirit of personal peace?
To begin, show compassionate concern for others. Control the tongue, the pen, and the word processor. Whenever tempted to dispute, remember this proverb: “He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.” (Prov. 11:12; see also Prov. 17:28.)
Bridle the passion to speak or write contentiously for personal gain or glory. The Apostle Paul thus counseled the Philippians, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” (Philip. 2:3.)
Such high mutual regard would then let us respectfully disagree without being disagreeable.
But the ultimate step lies beyond beginning control of expression. Personal peace is reached when one, in humble submissiveness, truly loves God. Heed carefully this scripture:
“There was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.” (4 Ne. 1:15; see also 4 Ne. 1:2; italics added.)
Thus, love of God should be our aim. It is the first commandment—the foundation of faith. As we develop love of God and Christ, love of family and neighbor will naturally follow. Then will we eagerly emulate Jesus. He healed. He comforted. He taught, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matt. 5:9; see also 3 Ne. 12:9.) (Russell M. Nelson, “The Canker of Contention,” Ensign, May 1989, 68)
When we love God, then we will not contend with others but we will have our hearts knit together in unity.
The Sabbath Day
Mosiah 18:25 says, "There was one day in every week that was set apart that they should gather themselves together to teach the people, and to worship the Lord their God."
Ezra Taft Benson wrote the following, "What are the consequences of disobedience? President George Albert Smith said, ". . . much of the sorrow and distress that is afflicting and will continue to afflict mankind is traceable to the fact that they have ignored His [God's] admonition to keep the sabbath day holy." (Conference Report, October 1935, p. 120.) Our spiritual natures, needing spiritual food, shrink and die without it. Physical deterioration also results. "Let us, therefore, in the midst of our worldly callings and associations," says President Joseph F. Smith, "not forget that paramount duty which we owe to ourselves and to our God." (Juvenile Instructor, vol. 47, March 1912, p. 145.)" (Ezra Taft Benson, “Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy,” Ensign, May 1971, 4)
In that same talk, President Benson has many ideas and suggestions for keeping the Sabbath day holy.