The people of King Limhi had every reason to feel hopeless. Their enemies, the Lamanites, had conquered their city. They were required to pay half of all they possessed as tribute to the Lamanite king (Mosiah 19:26). Three times, they had attacked the Lamanite armies, hoping to regain their freedom. Three times, they had been decisively beaten (Mosiah 21:6-12). When they realized that they could not rescue themselves, they had humbled themselves and prayed mightily for deliverance. But “the Lord was slow to hear their cry because of their iniquities” (Mosiah 21:15). And so, they had to live with their challenging circumstances.
Meanwhile, King Mosiah wondered what had happened to the small group of Nephites who had traveled to establish a colony in Lamanite lands two generations earlier. He sent a group of men, led by a man named Ammon, to find them.
When Ammon arrived, King Limhi was filled with new hope. He told his people that, in spite of their many failed attempts, there was yet “an effectual struggle to be made” (Mosiah 7:18). He then made them a promise:
If ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage (Mosiah 7:33).
What does it mean to serve God “with all diligence of mind?”
Jesus taught that the most important commandment, and in fact the foundation for all other commandments, is: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength” (Matthew 22:37).
Just as we are willing to perform physical labor to serve the Lord, we must also be willing to perform mental labor. Following His instructions isn’t usually a mindless exercise. Sometimes it requires significant thought, careful planning, and even creative effort.
As with Nephi and his brothers, God may give us a commandment without giving us detailed instructions for how to accomplish it (1 Nephi 3:1-8). He is not abandoning us, but He is giving us the opportunity to use our mental capabilities, to reason, and to find a way.
In the case of Limhi’s people, this diligence of mind included a process of ideation:
And now all the study of Ammon and his people, and king Limhi and his people, was to deliver themselves out of the hands of the Lamanites and from bondage (Mosiah 21:36).
Gideon is credited with recommending the idea which ultimately proved successful. But it was a collective effort, a thoughtful process of evaluating alternatives, identifying risks, and considering options which ultimately led to the positive outcome.
Today, I will be thoughtful in my discipleship. I will recognize that God’s commandments require more from me than mindless compliance. They require the best efforts of my mind as well as my physical labor. I will ponder my obedience to His commandments and recommit to serve Him “with all diligence of mind.”