12 And it was because of the pride of their hearts, because of their exceeding riches, yea, it was because of their oppression to the poor, withholding their food from the hungry, withholding their clothing from the naked, and smiting their humble brethren upon the cheek, making a mock of that which was sacred, denying the spirit of prophecy and of revelation, murdering, plundering, lying, stealing, committing adultery, rising up in great contentions, and deserting away into the land of Nephi, among the Lamanites—
Is it wrong to be rich? Heavenly Father promised Nephi that, if his descendants would keep His commandments, they would prosper (1 Nephi 2:20
). He wants to bless us and to help all of His children be successful. The problem comes when we receive blessings and we fail to share with those in need.
Isaiah rebuked the children of Israel for this sin with these words: “the spoil of the poor is in your houses” (Isaiah 3:14
, 2 Nephi 13:14
). In other words, if we are capable of helping others and neglect to do so, then it is almost as though we had stolen from them.
In the passage above, Mormon attributes a catastrophic military loss to the Nephites’ pride, as manifest by their unwillingness to take care of the poor among them. Alongside more obvious crimes, including murder, stealing, and adultery, he listed some things we might not always think of as egregious sins: “withholding their food from the hungry” and “withholding their clothing from the naked.” They had the means to take care of the poor among them, but they refused to do so “because of the pride of their hearts.”
Last weekend, Jeffrey R. Holland challenged all of us to do more to help the poor:
When I see the staggering economic inequality in the world, I feel guilty singing…of “blessings which [God] gives me now [and] joys ‘laid up’ above.” That chorus cannot be fully, faithfully sung until we have honorably cared for the poor. Economic deprivation is a curse that keeps on cursing, year after year and generation after generation. It damages bodies, maims spirits, harms families, and destroys dreams. If we could do more to alleviate poverty, as Jesus repeatedly commands us to do, maybe some of the less fortunate in the world could hum a few notes of “There Is Sunshine in My Soul Today,” perhaps for the first time in their lives (“Songs Sung and Unsung,” General Conference, April 2017).
Today, I will remember the importance of sharing what I have with those who are in need. I will think about my own efforts at giving and consider what more I can do. I will remember that the Lord expects us not only to appreciate the blessings He has given us but also to share them with those in need and that we are accountable to Him for how we treat the needy among us.