“If riches increase, set not your heart upon them.”
– Psalm 62:10
In the first chapter of Alma, we read about two groups of people. One group became prosperous because of their consistent self-discipline. And they remained prosperous because of their generosity: “They did not send away any who were naked, or that were hungry, or that were athirst, or that were sick, or that had not been nourished; and they did not set their hearts upon riches” (Alma 1:30). Perhaps their ambivalence toward their wealth liberated them to focus on what mattered most—doing good work and caring for others—which enabled them to remain productive.
The other group didn’t fare so well. “They loved the vain things of the world,” and they sought for “riches and honor.” Unlike the prior group, they wore expensive clothing. They tested the limits of legal behavior, and they indulged in idleness and deceit. This was not a recipe for success (Alma 1:16-18, 32).
Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21, Luke 12:34, 3 Nephi 13:21). We dedicate time and energy to the things we value, so getting our values right is the key to spending our time wisely. The first group had wealth, but they weren’t focused on the accumulation of wealth. They were primarily focused on helping those who were in need. Their possessions were a means to an end, an opportunity to live the gospel by blessing other people.
Elder Joe J. Christensen taught:
The more our hearts and minds are turned to assisting others less fortunate than we, the more we will avoid the spiritually cankering effects that result from greed, selfishness, and overindulgence. Our resources are a stewardship, not our possessions. I am confident that we will literally be called upon to make an accounting before God concerning how we have used them to bless lives and build the kingdom.
(“Greed, Selfishness, and Overindulgence,” General Conference April 1999)
Today, I will focus my attention on the things that matter most and avoid being distracted by worldly measures of success. I will strive to be a good steward of the resources God has entrusted to me.