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,
and now surely, whosoever repenteth
shall find mercy;
and he that findeth mercy
and endureth to the end
the same shall be saved.
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.