See also: Sacrament Talk Helps
Topics: social dynamics, pride, envy, gossip, happiness
Choose the sections you want and put them in any order.
Time: 8 minutes plus up to 12 minutes worth of possible add-ons (in purple).
Section 1 – Alma’s Big Question
Alma chapter 5 is 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”?
“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
Optional (1-2 min): Volunteer, how long it has been since you felt a feeling this strong. If it has been recent, describe it and the circumstances. If it has been a while – say something like, “for me, it’s been a while, but I remember how incredible it felt, etc.”
In chapter 5, Alma also calls out three common social shortcomings that deny anyone their happiness (and even deny people getting into heaven). The ones he chooses to warn us about might surprise you? (Or “surprised me”)
This talk is about those three habits Alma guarantees will chase our joyful feelings away.
Section 2 – Specialer
#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 us 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). 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.”
Optional (2-3 mins): If you want to deepen the quality and effectiveness of your talk – name a time you got caught up in this kind of pride, even if just in your head, and the effect it had on you. Share how or why you think better of it and the peaceful, powerful state of not jockeying for who is above or beneath. (All are alike unto God – 2 Nephi 2:26)
Bottom-line: arrogance and self-importance are sneaky con artists that rob the soul of well-being, of more profound joy, of seeing as Christ sees, and ultimately could cost us our exaltation. If we follow Christ, we will also follow him when he says: I am meek and lowly of heart…Matthew 11:29
Section 3 – Green Eyes
#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). It has been called the “Quart of Pickle Juice” parable.
“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.”
Optional (2-3 mins): If you are brave enough, share a time you were jealous and why it feels small to you now, or any envy story with a resolution. When you are forthcoming, you free others to be more introspective and absorb this talk more. (It’s vital you do not single anyone else out or make inferences from the pulpit.)
Section 4 – Gossip and Condescending Speech
#3 Talking Smack
Alma’s #3 warning might be the one we need to think about and work on the most. At first, I said, “I don’t do that…then realized, “oops, I do that.”
I will read these verses, and I want you to substitute “spouse” or “family” for the word brother.
30 And again I say unto you, is there one among you that doth make a mock of his brother, 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 standard, modern definitions below:
mocking; uncivil, sarcastic, rude, insulting, belittling, or unkind
persecutions; ill-treatment, bashing, pestering, taunt, torment, OR shun, exile, and exclude
Alma reminds us it might be time to get out the 40-grit sandpaper and figure out some better ways to respond to frustrating situations.
Optional (2-3 mins): Share some of your resolutions or thoughts about situations you realize you didn’t handle well and what you will do better in the future.
Section 5 – Wrap-up
Do you, by chance, notice how all three of Alma’s warnings deal with how we treat others? It helps to remember “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.” (Matt 25:40)
May we all find the strength, willpower, and know-how to upgrade our interactions with those around us.
Optional (1-2 mins): Add final thoughts and/or testimony.