The Preaching of the Word – Alma 31:5

5 And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just–yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them–therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God.
(Alma 31:5)

Boyd K.Packer taught:

True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior (“Little Children,” General Conference, Oct 1986).

Why is doctrine (the preaching of the word) more effective in influencing behavior than attempting to control the behavior directly?

  1. Because people like to make their own decisions. No one likes to be micromanaged. We are happier when we are empowered to choose for ourselves, including knowing enough to make wise choices. 
  2. Because doctrine can be applied to a variety of situations. It is impossible to provide an instruction manual that would cover every circumstance we might encounter. Better to learn doctrines and principles which we can apply even to situations we’ve never seen before. 
  3. Because when your heart is really in it, you don’t need constant guidance. When our desires are aligned with our Heavenly Father’s will, we will instinctively make righteous choices.
Today, I will remember the importance of teaching correct principles instead of trying to control behavior.
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