After describing the final battle in which his people were destroyed, Mormon writes a final testimony and admonition to the descendants of his enemies, the Lamanites. He had led his armies in battle against the Lamanites for nearly 60 years, but he had also spent significant time studying and summarizing the thousand-year history of his people. He was well aware of earlier times when the Lamanites had intentionally laid down their weapons because of their conversion to Jesus Christ. (See Alma 24:7-19, 25, Helaman 5:50-51.) He had also recorded the words of Samuel the Lamanite, pointing out to Mormon’s people, the Nephites, that the quality of the Lamanites’ conversion to the gospel was evidenced by their willingness to bury their weapons of war. (See Helaman 15:7-9.)
So as he writes his final words to future generations of Lamanites, it’s not surprising that Mormon references this significant aspect of their heritage. After reminding them that they are of the house of Israel, he says:
Know ye that ye must come unto repentance, or ye cannot be saved.
Know ye that ye must lay down your weapons of war…Mormon 7:3-4
There is a kind of vulnerability we experience when we stop fighting so hard to protect our possessions, our positions of power, and our egos. Mormon had seen the opposite firsthand among his people. As they struggled with the sword but refused to repent, he could plainly see that the end was near (Mormon 2:13-14).
There is something ironic about this imagery: The people who are working so hard to defend themselves are doomed. Only by letting go, by releasing their tight grip on what appears to be an essential tool, can they access the power of God, which will save them.
Elder Patrick Kearon offered the following explanation of how this process works in our lives:
We find healing and relief only when we bring ourselves to the feet of the Great Physician, our Savior, Jesus Christ. We must lay down our weapons of rebellion (and we each know what they are). We must lay down our sin, vanity, and pride. We must give up our desires to follow the world and to be respected and lauded by the world. We must cease fighting against God and instead give our whole hearts to Him, holding nothing back. Then He can heal us.“Come unto Me with Full Purpose of Heart, and I Shall Heal You,” General Conference, October 2010
Today, I will lay down my weapons of war. I will be less defensive. I will focus more on doing what is right and less on retaining my worldly possessions. I will place less faith in my ability to overcome challenges on my own, and I will instead turn my whole heart to God, knowing that He has the power to save me.