Jesus stands with open arms to receive us. The tragedy is that we fail to receive so many of the blessings He offers us. One reason we fail to receive them is because we take too much credit for our own accomplishments. Another is because we are unwilling to change. A third is because we feel enmity toward other people, which drives away the Spirit of the Lord.
Mormon 1-6 tells the story of a nation that was destroyed because they refused to repent. The tragedy is that their Savior, whom they rejected, “stood with open arms to receive [them]” (Mormon 6:17). If they had only been willing to follow him, they would have been “clasped in the arms of Jesus” (Mormon 5:11).
Still, through all their stubbornness, boasting, and ugly vengefulness, a clear-eyed and spiritually grounded prophet continued to work with them, to warn them, and even to lead their armies. Even as he compiled a history of his people for the benefit of future generations, Mormon participated meaningfully in the final chapter of that history. And even though he perceived that “the day of grace was passed with them” (Mormon 2:15), he continued to serve them, to fight with them, and to pray for them. Why? Because he “loved them…with all [his] heart” Mormon 3:12.)
And he knew that God loved them too. After chronicling the death of 23,000 people in a single battle and acknowledging that his civilization was gone, Mormon ends chapter 6 by looking ahead to the final judgment which each one of us will one day experience. But he doesn’t characterize it as a harsh judgment. He characterizes it as an accurate and a benevolent judgment. The final word in chapter 6 is “mercy.”
Here are some of the principles I’ve learned from Mormon 1-6:
God’s enduring love
- God is willing to help us overcome every challenge we face: With Open Arms – Mormon 6:17-20.
- The Atonement of Jesus Christ can be visualized as the embrace of a loving God: That They Might Have Been Clasped in the Arms of Jesus – Mormon 5:10-11.
- God will do almost anything to persuade us to repent, but He will not override our agency: What Are the Roles of Persuasion and Punishment in Motivating Good Behavior?
Three impediments to receiving God’s blessings
- When we speak of our accomplishments, we should not overstate our own contribution to our success. We should give appropriate credit to other people and to God: Is It Wrong to Boast?
- Repentance = change. Damnation = halted progress. Therefore, it is a simple statement of fact that those who refuse to repent will be damned: The Sorrowing of the Damned / They Began to Boast in Their Own Strength – Mormon 2:12-13, 3:9-11.
- We must overcome our instinctive desire to make other people pay for the harm they cause: What Is the Meaning of the Phrase “Vengeance Is Mine?”
- We should strive to be aware and responsive: I Perceive That Thou Art…Quick to Observe – Mormon 1:2-5.
- We will make wiser decisions if we choose to be governed by reason, not by emotion: What Does It Mean to Be Sober?
- When we are discouraged, we can reset our expectations and act upon what we can control: How Can I Teach My Children to Be Resilient?
- In a time of instability and insecurity, we must be spiritually anchored in order to survive: It Was One Complete Revolution – Mormon 2:8