Summary: Alma baptizes thousands of converts—Iniquity enters the Church, and the Church’s progress is hindered—Nephihah is appointed chief judge—Alma, as high priest, devotes himself to the ministry. Between 86 and 83 B.C.
This chapter, I think, does a really good job of showing how righteous people get caught in the "pride cycle," especially verses 6 and 8:
"[They] began to wax proud because of their exceeding riches [. . .] and all manner of precious things which they had obtained by their industry; and in all these things were they lifted up in the pride of their eyes.
"[They] set their hearts upon riches and upon vain things of the world, that they began to be scornful, one towards another."
I think the basic and grievous problem these people have is that they are forgetting the reason they are blessed with all they have. They are forgetting that they are blessed with those things. They have forgotten that it is Heavenly Father who has given them abilities and opportunities to obtain those things. And because of this, they grow to love those objects, and they grow to love their abilities and talents more than the Lord and their fellow men. The things they have really are not theirs--they belong to the Lord, for He is the one who gave them to the people.
They have set their hearts upon riches and upon "vain things of the world." You know, I am married to an MBA student. I don't feel that we have a lot of "riches" at this time in our lives. With the current state of our economy, there are many, many people who feel the same way I do. But you know, I do have lots of time. I have all day to spend with my children. Do I use this time, this thing that I have been blessed with, in as righteous a way as I would want to use my money? I am accountable for the time I spend with my kids. Heavenly Father is the one who has blessed me with time; I need to remember to be a good steward of that the same way I would be with money. "My" time should be the Lord's time.
What are some of your assets? Time? Talent? Money? How do you feel you succeed in remembering the Lord in your blessings and using them for a righteous purpose? It took two years for these people to forget the Lord and be crippled by their pride. Two years. That is not very long.
But what I really found touching about this chapter is the deep desire Alma feels to bring the people back to the Lord, and that he wants to do it himself.
This is understandable, right? Alma taught many of these people from their "infancy" in the gospel. He baptized them. He helped them establish a church (vs. 4). He called righteous leaders. Alma knew, from personal experience, that wickedness is not the Lord's way, and therefore does not bring lasting satisfaction.
As a mother, this really touched me. I am raising my children ("from infancy") now, and I hope more than anything that they will grow to love and live the gospel. But what am I doing to encourage this? When do my children see me lead by example, the way Alma is doing by going to bring his people back to the Lord? When was the last time they saw me read the scriptures or pray by myself? This is something I can really improve on.
"19 And this he did that he ahimself might go forth among his people, or among the people ofbpreach the cword of God unto them, to dstir them up in eremembrance ofof God, all the pride and craftiness and all the contentions which were among his people, seeing no way that he might reclaim them save it were in bearing down in pure ftestimony against them."
If my children go astray, you can bet that I am not leaving them to just anyone. Or anyone else, for that matter. I am going to do everything I personally, possibly can to bring them back to "remembrance of their duty." Sometimes this means waiting. Sometimes, however, it means taking action.
Julie Beck gave a great talk relating to Motherhood two conferences ago. Here is part I thought related to this chapter (it is a little lengthy, but still good):
Mothers Who Know Are Teachers
"Mothers who know are always teachers. Since they are not babysitters, they are never off duty. A well-taught friend told me that he did not learn anything at church that he had not already learned at home. His parents used family scripture study, prayer, family home evening, mealtimes, and other gatherings to teach. Think of the power of our future missionary force if mothers considered their homes as a pre–missionary training center. Then the doctrines of the gospel taught in the MTC would be a review and not a revelation. That is influence; that is power.
Mothers Who Know Do Less
Mothers who know do less. They permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally. They allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less activity that draws their children away from their home. Mothers who know are willing to live on less and consume less of the world’s goods in order to spend more time with their children—more time eating together, more time working together, more time reading together, more time talking, laughing, singing, and exemplifying. These mothers choose carefully and do not try to choose it all. Their goal is to prepare a rising generation of children who will take the gospel of Jesus Christ into the entire world. Their goal is to prepare future fathers and mothers who will be builders of the Lord’s kingdom for the next 50 years. That is influence; that is power. "
And you know? Sometimes we do everything we can and our children still fall away, and this does not mean we caused them to reject the gospel. But the possibility of this happening does not mean we don't try as hard as we can to raise them to be "builders of the Lord's kingdom." I need to improve in this area. How about you? What do you do to teach your children to love the gospel?