Friday, May 18, 2007

Alma 20

Righteous Dominion

While Ammon and Lamoni traveled to the land of Middoni, they encountered Lamoni's father (his name is never given). Lamoni's father tries to command his son to return to his land and to kill Ammon. But Lamoni refuses after which the old king draws his sword and attempts to slay both Lamoni and Ammon. But Ammon draws his sword too and disables the old king. Ammon had the king in a tight position whereby the king had two options … give Ammon whatever he wanted or be killed.

Despite this great power that he had over the old king, Ammon did not "exercise unrighteous dominion." Rather he "forced" the old king to choose the right. Ammon did the right thing. Note that it was never Ammon's intention to force the king to listen to him to begin with. Rather because the king decided to enforce his command by the sword, Ammon had no other option other than to fight back. Once Ammon had the king pinned, Ammon did not request that the king be baptized, rather he forced the king to allow Lamoni and Ammon to go about their business.

The main applicable point here is that as we teach the gospel to our family and friends and neighbors and everyone else, we must remember that we cannot force anyone to heaven. And if ever we find ourselves in a position of power over anyone, we must not abuse it.

Always Show Love and Mercy

Because Ammon did not exercise unrighteous dominion over the old king, the king "was astonished exceedingly." (Alma 20:26) Because the old king was shown mercy, he became interested in learning more of the gospel. (Alma 20:27)

As we live the gospel more fully, others will see our example and consequently want to learn more of our beliefs. Opportunities will open for us to share the gospel as we strive to keep the commandments. We must never think that what we do in our life will not have consequences. Our choices have a direct and indirect impact on the lives of many.

Patience in Suffering

When Ammon and Lamoni were finally able to rescue Aaron, Muloki and Ammah, they found them naked and bound and in great suffering. "Nevertheless, they were patient in all their sufferings." (Alma 20:29) Just like Nephi of old, these missionaries patiently suffered the afflictions that were placed upon them. No murmuring word came from their mouth.

The next verse (Alma 20:30) offers profound insight. "And, as it happened, it was their lot to have fallen into the hands of a more hardened and a more stiff-necked people" (emphasis added). We do not know what life will throw at us at any given time. Tomorrow I may lose my job or my wife or one of my children may contract cancer or some terminal illness. EVERYONE will go through hard times at some point in their lives … be it spiritual or emotional or physical. The significant variable in trials, however, is our reaction to adversity. Will we murmur like Laman and Lemuel or will we bear patience in all things? (Alma 38:4)

If we are murmuring, then we are not listening to the Spirit who is trying to instruct us. We must follow the counsel Elder Maxwell offered when he said, "if our lips are closed to murmuring, then our eyes can be opened." He preceded this advice with an example from the Old Testament.

He says, "Ancient Israel was once compassed about with “a great host” of hostile horses and chariots. Elisha counseled his anxious young servant, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” The prophet then prayed that the Lord would “open” the young man’s eyes, “and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha”! (2 Kgs. 6:14–17.) (Neal A. Maxwell, “‘Murmur Not’,” Ensign, Nov 1989, 82)

As for me personally, I tend to murmur too much. Another bit of counsel from Elder Maxwell taught me that murmurers have short memories. My family and I have been blessed so much yet I tend to see all our shortcomings rather than the hand of the Lord in blessing our lives. The Lord has blessed us in the past with so much. And he continues to bless and lead and guide us. I need to spend more time counting my blessings and the progress we've made rather than the things we need to improve at.

No comments: