They Had Not Kept Sufficient Guards – Helaman 1:18

18 And it came to pass that because of so much contention and so much difficulty in the government, that they had not kept sufficient guards in the land of Zarahemla; for they had supposed that the Lamanites durst not come into the heart of their lands to attack that great city Zarahemla.

The Nephite army made a catastrophic tactical mistake: They assumed that the Lamanites would attack their border cities, so that’s where they positioned their armies. They were surprised and temporarily defeated as their enemy marched past the borders and attacked their capital city. They had unwisely left the heart of their land vulnerable by allocating too many troops to the outer lands.
There is an important lesson here for us. As we battle with temptation, we certainly need to defend our borders: avoiding exposure to inappropriate media, keeping ourselves busy with worthwhile activities, and spending time with people who encourage us to be our best selves. But we can’t just rely on these “border defenses.” We need to also spend time and energy fortifying our hearts.
The Pharisees believed in building a “hedge around the law” to protect themselves against disobedience.  As a result, they tended to be more focused on the outward display of obedience than on their inner spiritual strength. Jesus pointed out that all this emphasis on rule-following had left them weak at the core: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone” (Matthew 23:23). He’s not telling them to stop participating in the more visible acts of righteousness. But He wants them to recognize that obedience to these rules is a means to an end, and that when they are so focused on the details of the law, they are missing the heart of the gospel.
Today, I will avoid prioritizing process over substance. I will recognize the need to balance defending my borders with fortifying my heart.

One thought on “They Had Not Kept Sufficient Guards – Helaman 1:18

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  1. Great point. Because of our limited perspective, at times it is easy to become more process than outcome oriented. Elder Bednar has reminded us to focus on what we are becoming, more so than what we are doing. What we do leads and contributes to what we become. However, just doing the right things without the right direction and intent will not change us sufficiently so that we become who the Lord would have us be. Elder Robbins (oct 2011) suggested making “to be” lists, rather than “to do” lists. What a great example from the Book of Mormon of these same principles. Thanks


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