18 Behold, my beloved brethren, I will unfold this mystery unto you; if I do not, by any means, get shaken from my firmness in the Spirit, and stumble because of my over anxiety for you.
In the prior chapter, Jacob taught us the importance of “firmness of mind.” In this chapter, he gives several reasons why people may lose their focus and let their minds waver:
- They forget how much Heavenly Father knows and how little we know (v. 8-10). They consequently start trying to counsel Him instead of receiving counsel from Him, and they tie themselves up in a web of their own limited knowledge and reasoning.
- They underestimate the value of things they are already familiar with and become fascinated by things they cannot understand (v. 13-16). This leads to “shiny object syndrome,” in which the person is always chasing the latest interesting short-term goal instead of maintaining their long-term perspective (see Acts 17:21).
- The last reason actually arises from a righteous motive: They may be so concerned for the welfare of others that their love overpowers their reason. Jacob calls it “over anxiety” (v. 18). Think about Alma deliberately reminding himself that his listeners have their agency, and therefore he must not “desire more than to perform the work to which [he has] been called,” however much he might love them and desire their happiness (Alma 29:6).
Today, I will watch for things which might distract me from my steadfastness. Like Jacob and like Alma, I will consciously monitor my “mental firmness” and ensure that I am not letting my own desires, whether fundamentally righteous or not, get in the way of my eternal priorities.