3 Touch me not, for God shall smite you if ye lay your hands upon me, for I have not delivered the message which the Lord sent me to deliver; neither have I told you that which ye requested that I should tell; therefore, God will not suffer that I shall be destroyed at this time.
4 But I must fulfil the commandments wherewith God has commanded me; and because I have told you the truth ye are angry with me. And again, because I have spoken the word of God ye have judged me that I am mad.
The prophet Abinadi was sent to deliver an unwelcome message: King Noah and his people had hardened their hearts against God, and if they didn’t repent, they would suffer the consequences of their evil actions. Even though his audience didn’t want to hear the message, it was a message of love. The consequences were coming. There was a way out. But they had to humble themselves and accept responsibility for their own actions in order to avoid the destruction which they would otherwise experience.
Nephi said, “The guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center” (1 Nephi 16:1-3). Laman and Lemuel thought he was angry with them, but their father explained that they were projecting their own anger onto him: “ye say that he hath been angry with you; but behold,… that which ye call anger was the truth” (2 Nephi 1:26). As we saw earlier this week, Laman’s and Lemuel’s anger distorted their perception and caused them to misinterpret their brother’s actions.
As Abinadi points out in the passage above, the people of King Noah experienced the same thing. They were angry with him for speaking the truth, and their anger caused them to misinterpret his actions. They attributed his uncomfortable words to madness, but instead of ignoring him or trying to help him, they wanted to kill him. This unreasonable reaction indicates what was really happening: they were uncomfortable hearing the truth, and they wanted it to stop.
Today, I will pay attention to my reaction to the words of others. When I hear uncomfortable things, I will take care not to blame the person who delivered the message and not to attribute my own bad feelings to them or to others. I will take responsibility for my own reaction to difficult messages and will strive to respond humbly and wisely, rather than let my emotions take control.