Jesus said, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” (Luke 12:48).
In 1832, Joseph Smith received a revelation for the church in which the Lord taught the same principle: “For of him unto whomis much is ; and he who against the greater shall the greater
With this understanding, we recognize that gratitude naturally leads to action, not to complacency. “Because I have been given much, I too must give” (Hymns, 219).
When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, his first words were “Hail, thou that art highly favoured” (Luke 1:28). The Greek word kecharitomene (κεχαριτωμένη), which is rendered in King James as “thou that art highly favored,” literally means “endowed with grace.” Mary had been given much and was therefore being asked to give much.
Nephi begins his record by telling us that he had endured many afflictions but that he had nevertheless “been highly favored of the Lord in all my days” (1 Nephi 1:1). He recognized that these blessings placed him under obligation, and he later lamented that what he had given fell so far short of what he had received (2 Nephi 4:20-27).
When Alma called the people of Ammonihah to repentance, he appealed to the same principle. He reminded them that they were a “highly favored people of the Lord,” and he listed many blessings they (or their ancestors) had received in order to emphasize this point:
- Access to spiritual knowledge
- Access to spiritual gifts
- Preservation from famine and illnesses
- Victory in battle
- Deliverance from bondage
- Prosperity and wealth
Then he warned them that, if they refused to repent after having received so much, the consequences would be severe (Alma 9:20-24).
The tone of Alma’s message is not surprising, because he had been appalled to observe the growing inequality among his people. He was particularly alarmed when he saw wealthy people “turning their backs upon the needy” (Alma 4:12). He wanted the people of Ammonihah to understand that their wealth was not given to them for their benefit alone, that God expected them to take care of one another, particularly the most vulnerable among them. God would hold them accountable for the use they made of the resources He had entrusted to them.
Today, I will remember the ways in which I have been “highly favored of the Lord.” I will be grateful for the blessings I have received, and I will remember that those blessings place me under obligation to serve the Lord and to bless other people.