Wow…do you feel that? Alma chapter 5 is, perhaps, one of the most vigorous, self-searching soul scrubs found in the Book of Mormon. First, Alma asks, “when was the last time you were so full of spirit and love, you felt like singing with the choirs of heaven”? For me, it’s been a while.
“And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now”?Alma 5:26
Then, Alma calls out three shortcomings which would deny someone a lot of soul bliss (and even denies people getting into heaven). The ones he chooses to warn us about might surprise you?
The Guaranteed Soul Assassins
#1 “I Am Special-er Than You.”
Alma minces no words, “Behold, are ye stripped of pride? I say unto you, if ye are not ye are not prepared to meet God…and such an one hath not eternal life.” (Alma 5:28)
“Pride” is a common, repeating sermon and sometimes hearing the word tempts me to tune out. But Alma refers to pride from an angle that’s hard to ignore or gloss over.
Elder Uchtdorf gave a stellar definition of pride in General Conference (Oct 2010). The whole talk, Pride and the Priesthood is a worthy, repeat read. Check out this quote:
“This sin has many faces. It leads some to revel in their own perceived self-worth, accomplishments, talents, wealth, or position. They count these blessings as evidence of being “chosen,” “superior,” or “more righteous” than others. This is the sin of “Thank God I am more special than you.” At its core is the desire to be admired or envied. It is the sin of self-glorification.”
Bottom-line: arrogance and self-importance are sneaky con artists and rob the soul of well-being, of deeper joy, and ultimately cost us our exaltation.
#2 The Green-eyed Monster
Next, Alma specifically calls out envy, “Behold, I say, is there one among you who is not stripped of envy…for such an one is not found guiltless.” (Alma 5:29)
Jeffrey R. Holland gave a superb description of envy’s chronic unhappiness in General Conference (April 2012). I call it the “Quart of Pickle Juice” parable. At the time, I could have sworn Elder Holland was sitting at the back of my ward when he wrote this talk:
“Furthermore, envy is a mistake that just keeps on giving. Obviously we suffer a little when some misfortune befalls us, but envy requires us to suffer all good fortune that befalls everyone we know! What a bright prospect that is—downing another quart of pickle juice every time anyone around you has a happy moment! To say nothing of the chagrin in the end, when we find that God really is both just and merciful, giving to all who stand with Him “all that he hath,” as the scripture says. So lesson number one from the Lord’s vineyard: coveting, pouting, or tearing others down does not elevate your standing, nor does demeaning someone else improve your self-image. So be kind, and be grateful that God is kind. It is a happy way to live.”
#3 Talking Smack
Alma’s #3 warning might be the one I need to think about and work on the most. At first I said, “I don’t do that…then realized, “oops, I do that.”
30 And again I say unto you, is there one among you that doth make a mock of his brother [includes gossip], or that heapeth upon him persecutions?
31 Wo unto such an one, for he is not prepared, and the time is at hand that he must repent or he cannot be saved! (Alma 5:30-31)
Heavy, isn’t it? The words “mocking” and “persecutions” aren’t used a lot in our time; read some common, modern definitions below:
mocking; uncivil, sarcastic, rude, insulting, belittling, or unkind
persecutions; ill-treatment, bashing, pestering, taunt, torment, OR shun, exile, and exclude
Time to get out the 40-grit sandpaper and figure out some better ways to respond to frustrating situations.
Do you, by chance, notice how all three of Alma’s warnings deal with how we treat others? It reminds me of some “ouch” advice my BFF, Missy Carson shared with me. She said, “the ‘least of these thy brethren‘ are whomever you personally think the least of. And how you treat them is counted the same as if you did it to Christ.”
Blessings to you! May we all find the strength, willpower and know-how to upgrade our interactions with those around us.