After relating some of the experiences of the prophet Nephi, including great miracles which failed to convert the people and a natural disaster which only temporarily convinced them to humble themselves and repent, Mormon inserted this editorial commentary.
Mormon’s purpose in writing this editorial note was to highlight the foolishness of pride and to express sorrow that people display it so frequently.
- People are unsteady. They turn away from God when things are going well and only remember Him when they experience hard times (Helaman 12:1-3).
- People are foolish: quick to be prideful and slow to follow God’s counsel (Helaman 12:4-6).
- In contrast with people, inanimate objects obey God’s commands instantly (Helaman 12:7-17).
- God can curse treasures so that they can’t be found. He can likewise curse people so that they can’t return to His presence (Helaman 12:18-21).
- Only those who choose to repent can be saved (Helaman 12:22-23).
- I wish everyone could be saved. But God has revealed that, in the end, some people will be cast out (Helaman 12:24-26).
In Mormon’s study of the history of his people, one fact stood out: people have a tendency to become proud when things are going well. Living at the end of his civilization, Mormon was seeing the ultimate consequences of this tendency. “Behold, the pride of this nation, or the people of the Nephites, hath proven their destruction except they should repent,” he wrote to his son Moroni (Moroni 8:27).
Mormon points out in this chapter how ridiculous this pride is. The contrast between God and ourselves couldn’t be greater. Who do we think we are? The earth, the hills and mountains obey Him. He has the ability to curse our possessions. Why do we delude ourselves into thinking we know better than He does and that we can escape the ultimate consequences of our actions?
Mormon reaffirms that God will save those who repent. They will be “restored unto grace for grace, according to their works” (Helaman 12:24). They will be sanctified through the Atonement of Jesus Christ because they have taken the actions required to receive that blessing. Sadly, not everyone will make that choice. As much as Mormon wishes everyone could be saved, he knows that some will not be willing to receive this gift and will be “cast off from the presence of the Lord” (Helaman 12:25).
I will respond to Mormon’s message by remembering the greatness of God and my own nothingness in comparison with Him. I will choose to humble myself and to repent, and I will avoid any hint of egotism or hubris, particularly when things are going well. I will also remember Mormon’s warning that salvation is available but that it is not guaranteed. I must choose to repent in order to benefit from God’s saving power.