8 Wo unto them that join house to house, till there can be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!
9 In mine ears, said the Lord of Hosts, of a truth many houses shall be desolate, and great and fair cities without inhabitant.
10 Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and the seed of a homer shall yield an ephah.
(2 Nephi 15:8-10, Isaiah 5:8-10)
People are more important than projects or possessions.
After relating a parable which dramatizes God’s disappointment with the children of Israel, Isaiah proceeds to list six “woes”—six ways the children of Israel have fallen short of their potential. In the passage above, he describes the first of those: God is unhappy with people who are obsessed with enlarging their earthly wealth and status while ignoring the well-being of their neighbors.
“Wo unto them that join house to house, till there can be no place.” Acquiring more and more property for oneself at the expense of others will ultimately lead to loneliness. It will also result in an inefficient use of resources: Ten acres of vineyard ought to yield more than one bath (about 8 gallons), and a homer of seeds (6½ U.S. bushels) should generate more than an ephah of output (one tenth of a homer). (See “Weights and Measures,” in the Bible Dictionary.) But when you’ve alienated everyone around you, and no one wants to work with you any more, your vast property and wealth will not be very profitable.
This is an extreme scenario, of course, but we see this phenomenon on a smaller scale in our daily lives. We can easily become so focused on achieving a goal or solving a problem, that we lose sight of the needs of the people around us, even though our relationships with others are of far more permanent value than the problems of the day. As President Thomas S. Monson reminded us:
Stresses in our lives come regardless of our circumstances. We must deal with them the best we can. But we should not let them get in the way of what is most important—and what is most important almost always involves the people around us….
Send that note to the friend you’ve been neglecting; give your child a hug; give your parents a hug; say “I love you” more; always express your thanks. Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved. Friends move away, children grow up, loved ones pass on. It’s so easy to take others for granted, until that day when they’re gone from our lives and we are left with feelings of “what if” and “if only.”
(“Finding Joy in the Journey,” General Conference, October 2008)
Today, I will put people first. I will not allow either challenges or goals to distract me from serving and building relationships with the people around me.