President Smith applied the words of his creed to his everyday life. He was no respecter of persons, “and to him, a good deed was like a seed that would grow into a happy memory for both him and the one he had served” (GAS, p. 135).
The Bible tells us Noah was not successful in saving anyone but himself and his family. Perhaps not unlike missionaries today, who serve faithful missions in a wicked world, who do not find success in conversions, but who strengthen their own testimonies, thus saving themselves and their future family.
It appears Mormon may have had a hero from the history of his people.
At a time he was witnessing the destruction of his people because of their wickedness, he compiled the records that we know as the Book of Mormon. As he moved from one set of records to another, he wrote a short treatise explaining his reason for doing so. In the process, he introduces King Benjamin to the reader. He begins by sharing that King Benjamin had contentions among his people and that the armies of the Lamanites came to battle against them. However, the King gathered his people together, and they fought in the strength of the Lord and drove the Lamanites back to their own lands--–with King Benjamin leading them with the sword of Laban. (Words of Mormon 1:12-14). This King was someone Mormon respected and looked up to as an example as he led the Nephite army in to battle. (Mormon 2:2)
The contention among King Benjamin’s people, caused by false prophets and teachers, resulted in dissensions and crime---wickedness had destroyed the peace among his people. But King Benjamin, being a holy man, with the assistance of the holy prophets, did teach the people with great power and with authority. (Words of Mormon 1:15-17) “By laboring with all the might of his body and the faculty of his whole soul, and also the prophets, did once more establish peace in the land” (Words of Mormon 1:18).
For the “fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith” (Galatians 5:22). Mormon desired nothing less for his own time, but it was not to be. We should not be surprised that Mormon introduced this great man to us, and then recorded his entire speech to his people at the beginning of the Book of Mosiah. Perhaps King Benjamin was indeed one of Mormon’s heros.
The scriptures declare that King Benjamin was a great leader and teacher of his people. Yet, he was humble and wanted to serve his people to the utmost of his abilities. Perhaps the words of his forefather Nephi that “all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33) had touched his soul. His life was a testimony of those words, for he served his people his entire life and even labored with his own hands so that taxes would not be needed. He judged righteously and strove to teach righteousness instead of confining sinners to dungeons. He knew that when he served his fellow beings, he was only in the service of his God. (Mosiah 2:16-17) He also knew that he could serve God with his whole soul all his days, and still be “indebted unto him . . . forever and ever” (Mosiah 2:24).
Because of his righteousness (Mosiah 3:4), an angel from God came to King Benjamin to teach him “glad tidings of great joy” (Mosiah 3:3) for him and for his people. For the Lord Omnipotent would soon come to earth to provide salvation for his people. “And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God . . . he cometh unto his own, that salvation might come unto the children of men even through faith on his name” (Mosiah 3:8-9).
“And the Lord God hath sent his holy prophets among all the children of men, to declare these things to every kindred, nation, and tongue, that thereby whosoever should believe that Christ should come, the same might receive remission of their sins, and rejoice with exceedingly great joy” (Mosiah 3:13).
This is the message that I, as a missionary, shared with the people of New Zealand. This is the message that thousands of missionaries---past, present, and future---to go into the world. Not with pride or arrogance, but in the spirit of service and love to our fellow beings. Instead of a tower, we go from home to home, teaching “glad tidings of great joy” to all who will listen to our testimonies.
This is why we serve each other in our individual callings in the Church. We labor to teach the truth, “that salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent” (Mosiah 3:18).
Because of the fall of Adam, every person born on this earth is born a “natural man” and is therefore “an enemy to God” (Mosiah 3:19). Every person is born with “a thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7), as Paul described it, or a “weakness” (Ether 12:27-28) as Mormon wrote. The purpose of thorns and weakness are to keep us humble and turn us to Christ---our hope and salvation. As we are all sinners, and a single sin can keep us from returning to the presence of our Father, who is to judge one thorn from another’s weakness. Isn’t all sin abominable to the Lord? Are we not all indebted to our Savior, Jesus Christ?
We have a habit in the Church of categorizing sin--or the rationalization of our sins compared to anothers--in order to help us feel better about ourselves or justify our actions towards another person. “Why beholdest thou the mote that is in they brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” (Matthew 7:3). Alma said it this way, “only let your sins trouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance” (Alma 42:29).
May each of us yield “to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3:19). Perhaps then, it will be said of us, “And now there was no more contention in all the land” (Mosiah 1:1), and that by sharing the testimony of Christ’s atonement, with charity, to the world, we can “once more establish peace in the land” (Words of Mormon 1:18).
It seems one of the main focuses of King Benjamin’s words is to help us look upon others as ourselves, fellow brothers and sisters, and strive to help each other through this earth life and return to Father in heaven. If we truly want to retain a forgiveness of our sins and weaknesses, then we must help others in their needs, “administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally” (Mosiah 4:26).
I have enjoyed watching an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation entitled "The Inner Light." Star Trek was, and at times still is, one of those little escapes for me that we all need from time to time. Secular in nature, and at times even atheistic in tone, Star Trek can be thought provoking in its story line. "The Inner Light" is one of those thought provoking stories.
After Nephi records his Psalm, the next event recorded is the hatred of his brethren that causes him, and those who would follow him, to flee into the wilderness. He left his home, siblings, and the graves of his parents, and followed the directions of the Lord. What great faith, what powerful trust in the Lord.
To obtain a hope in Christ, you must learn of him. You must learn who you and those around you really are. With the knowledge and understanding that we are all beggars before the God and Father of us all, we cannot look upon the needs of others and not feel a need to help where possible. The Church shares millions of dollars every year to help those in need.
Nephi continued to admonish his brethren and their families and to lead them in the worship of their God. He found encouragement and strength in studying the scriptures and sought peace through family and personal prayer. Anger and disagreement continued to divide the family until the tension became too great. A decision had to be made for the peace and safety of Nephi, his family, and those who believed the teachings of the Lord.
In my childhood memory, I am watching the news and seeing Walter Cronkite talking about Vietnam-the first televised war. Behind him was a box with the number of casualties for the week and the total number of war dead in the thousands. Pictures of riots and protests made for a perplexing view of the days events for a child.
The chapel in Lindon, Utah, was full, as several families were there to participate with their children. My attention was fixated upon a beautiful young girl named Ashli Hart, who was one of seven being baptized that morning. This sweet little strawberry blond girl is my niece, and the proud uncle buttons were just a popping.
May we remember the eternal nature of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and Their eternal love for each of us. May we learn and grow in our understanding of the plan of salvation, the saving power of the Atonement, and the eternal nature and brotherhood of each of us. May we be more understanding, more loving, and more obedient to the Lord's teachings. "O man, remember, and perish not" (Mosiah 4:30).
Several years ago, I attended the musical production Cheaper by the Dozen being performed at the SCERA Theater in Orem, Utah. I enjoy attending community theater but specifically attended this one to watch my nephew, Steven, who is in the cast. His good friend, Dane, is also in the cast of this perfect family show. From the audience, it appeared both of these young men were enjoying being part of this entertaining show.
In my life today, I often feel like that new missionary faced with a very difficult task ahead of me. I feel like the youth speaker in my ward who mis-spoke and said in life we are "tired and tested." I am convinced that I will succeed in life "if I only try harder."