5 But behold, hearken ye unto me, and know that by the help of the all-powerful Creator of heaven and earth I can tell you concerning your thoughts, how that ye are beginning to labor in sin, which sin appeareth very abominable unto me, yea, and abominable unto God.
As I’ve pondered these words of Jacob today, I’ve had the following insights:
- It makes sense to me to describe sin as a form of labor. Whenever we sin, even in our thoughts, we are expending effort and energy on something that is not uplifting, not helpful, and not wise.
- The phrase “labor in sin” sounds unpleasant, which reminds me of the principle that wickedness never was happiness (Alma 41:10).
- The sins Jacob identifies in this chapter are thought sins — justifying unchastity and looking down on those less fortunate than oneself.
- We might think our thoughts are private, but Jacob reminds us that our Heavenly Father knows all of our thoughts.
- Our persistent thoughts are a manifestation of our character. “As [we] think in [our hearts], so [are we]” (Proverbs 23:7). I think in this context that the phrase “labor in sin” refers not to occasional unwise thoughts which are outliers but to recurring patterns of thought which are becoming habits.
- It seems to me there are many patterns of thought which are sinful, and which will cause me and others unhappiness if I entertain them:
- Justifying or glorifying inappropriate behaviors
- Placing myself above other people — “Will ye persist in supposing that ye are better one than another?” (Alma 5:54)
- Judging other people
- Complaining about my circumstances
- Being ungrateful
Today, I will pay particular attention to my thoughts and will see if there are ways that I am “beginning to labor in sin.” I will look for improper thought patterns which will make me and others unhappy, and which will slow down my progress. I will repent as needed and commit to improve the quality of my thoughts.