20 O, how could you have forgotten your God in the very day that he has delivered you?
21 But behold, it is to get gain, to be praised of men, yea, and that ye might get gold and silver. And ye have set your hearts upon the riches and the vain things of this world, for the which ye do murder, and plunder, and steal, and bear false witness against your neighbor, and do all manner of iniquity.
22 And for this cause wo shall come unto you except ye shall repent….
What causes us to forget important things? I would say that distractions are most often the culprit for me. When my schedule is excessively cluttered, when I have signed up for more than I can reasonably do, my brain and my calendar become saturated, and I begin to neglect important priorities.
The passage above comes from an impromptu speech delivered by Nephi to a crowd that had gathered to observe him praying in his garden. These people were perplexed and intrigued by his emotional prayer on their behalf. Nephi was appalled by their obliviousness to their own precarious state. He had recently returned from a mission in “the land northward,” and he was shocked at the institutionalized corruption which he observed. Criminals had been elected as their judges, and they made a mockery of their responsibilities: condemning people who were innocent and letting the guilty bribe their way to freedom. Mormon tells us that “this great iniquity had come upon the Nephites, in the space of not many years” (Helaman 7:6).
How did this happen so quickly? As Nephi explains in the passage above, it was because they had forgotten their God. But how could they forget Him when He had recently delivered them from their enemies? They were distracted by the pursuit of wealth. Their desire to “get gain” was rooted in their ambition “to be praised of men.” They had fallen into the trap the Savior called “the deceitfulness of riches” (Matthew 13:22): accumulating more and more money in the mistaken belief that it can provide intangible benefits such as respect, acceptance, and love.
As President Dieter F. Uchtdorf has taught:
I think most of us intuitively understand how important the fundamentals are. It is just that we sometimes get distracted by so many things that seem more enticing.
Printed material, wide-ranging media sources, electronic tools and gadgets—all helpful if used properly—can become hurtful diversions or heartless chambers of isolation.
Yet amidst the multitude of voices and choices, the humble Man of Galilee stands with hands outstretched, waiting. His is a simple message: “Come, follow me.”
(“Of Things That Matter Most,” General Conference, October 2010).
Today, I will take care not to forget the things that matter most, including the gospel of Jesus Christ and my family. I will remember the great blessings I have received from God, and I will avoid being caught up in distractions which might cause me to forget Him.