“And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people. . . . and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God. . . . they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God. And how blessed were they!” (4 Nephi 1:15-18).
After the visit of the Savior to the people of the Americas, they became the happiest people on earth “because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.” They went beyond the friendly smile and the payment of fast offerings. The visit of the Savior had taught them a fulness of the gospel and instilled a desire “in the hearts of the people” to live righteously. The desire to do sin was removed from them as they were filled with the Spirit. The natural man was placed under control through listening to the still, small voice. Love filled their hearts and there was no room for anything that wasn’t good, pure, and holy. They became, as the City of Enoch, “Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness” (Moses 7:18). Had they continued in righteousness, “in the process of time” (Moses 7: 21) they may have joined Enoch in heaven.
The Nephites did not, “in the process of time” remain a righteous people. They were unable to sustain the level of righteousness that Enoch had over time in his city. Sometime after A.D. 111, a small group “revolted from the Church” (4 Nephi 1:20) and took upon them the name Lamanite. They no longer were “one, the children of Christ.” Instead, the natural man returned and the Spirit was weakened. Pride entered in (4 Nephi 1:24), and unity was no more. All this happened because “of the power of Satan who did get hold upon their hearts” (4 Nephi 1:28).
King Benjamin gave us the keys of how to be “filled with the love of God.” Taught Benjamin, “believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in the sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them” (Mosiah 4:10). “I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God . . . his goodness and long-suffering towards you . . . and humble yourselves . . . calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith. . . . And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you . . . And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably” (Mosiah 4:11-13).
Christmas is a time of year when we inch a little closer to being “filled with the love of God.” We reach out to the less fortunate, we reach out to family and friends, we reach out with hope and commitment to live more like our Savior. Our thoughts and hearts are turned towards Him whose birth we celebrate. It is a wonderful time of year filled with happiness and joy. We feel good about our reaching out, our family time together, our Christmas lifestyle.
However, Christmas will come and go with many feeling inner turmoil under the shallow peace of the Christmas celebration. If our desires drive us to build Zion, as they should, we each need to look at our hearts and spend some time in quiet reflection as to where we stand with the babe in the manger. With “sincerity of heart” we need to humble ourselves and ask forgiveness for wrong doings. We need to forgive others and rejoice together in the Savior of us all. We need to strive for meaningful prayer, moments of spiritual insight, and gaining a greater “knowledge of the glory of him that created you.” As we strive to have the Spirit with us always, our hearts will begin to fill with love. The Spirit will direct us on how to move forward, suppressing the influence of the nature man with the power of the love of God.
And perhaps someday, as we strive to live as Jesus would have us live, it will be said of us, “that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people. . . . and surely there could not be a happier people . . . [for] they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God. And how blessed were they!” (4 Nephi 1:15-18).