Sometimes… – Alma 32:13

Alma tells a group of poor Zoramites that it’s a good thing they are excluded from the synagogues. Why? Because that unfair treatment has made them humble, and humility can  prepare us to receive God’s mercy (Alma 32:12-13).

But Alma adds an important qualifier: “sometimes.” Humility, particularly imposed humility, doesn’t always lead to mercy and salvation. Here’s how Alma put it:

Because ye are compelled to be humble
blessed are ye;
for a man sometimes,
if he is compelled to be humble,
seeketh repentance;
and now surely, whosoever repenteth
shall find mercy;
and he that findeth mercy
and endureth to the end
the same shall be saved.
(Alma 32:13)

The process begins with humility, but it only continues if we respond appropriately. And that doesn’t always happen.

I think I can safely say that I am humbled on a daily basis. I say something regrettable, I see other people taking advantage of opportunities I wasn’t aware of. I let my ego get in the way of making wise decisions.

When that happens, I sometimes become teachable: I learn from my mistakes, and I resolve to do better. In other words, I repent. But other times, I react in less productive ways. I may become defensive, envious, discouraged, disheartened, or anxious. In all of those cases, my productivity and my progress are impaired instead of enhanced by the humbling experience. I fail to experience the lift which I might have gained if I had responded differently.

Today, I will convert humility into penitence. I will remember that humbling experiences only produce growth if I respond appropriately. I will strive to learn from my mistakes and do better instead of responding in unproductive ways.

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