6. Now, all these things were said and done as my father dwelt in a tent in the valley which he called Lemuel. 1 Nephi 1:6
I have always wondered why Nehi told everyone that his father dwelt in a tent. I also think that everything in the scriptures, no matter how minor it may seem, was put there for a reason. It was not easy for Nephi to write on the plates. It would take time and resources to do so. So why would he waste the time to tell us that his father dwelt in a tent? The reason I came up with was the fact that he wanted us to know what type of sacrifice that his family had to give up in order to follow what the Lord told them to do. In chapter 3 he continues to say: “… for behold he left gold and silver, and all manner of riches. And all this he hath done because of the commandments of the Lord.” (1 Nephi 3:16)
Nephi and his family gave up a lot of stuff because the Lord commanded them to do so. We are familiar with the story of them going back to get the brass plates. The riches the left behind were so great that they made Labon want them, and to take them by what ever means he could. They left behind a lot and then dwelt in a tent because the Lord told them to.
I recently had a hard time giving up some of my riches. At Christmas, I was given some money and a gift card that I could use to buy what I wanted. So I went to Target and purchased a computer game. When I was at checkout, the clerk asked me for my ID. I thought that was funny and went home. While I was going home I wondered why she asked for my ID. When I got home I noticed that the game I just purchased had a rating of M on it, or 17+. I had a battle in my head over that rating. We have been trying hard to keep that type of stuff out of our home, but I REALLY wanted to play this game. So the game went back to the store, and I purchased something that the entire family could have fun using.
I have not been asked to live in a tent, and I have not had to give up a lot of my riches. 10% is really not that much if you think about all that the Lord has given you. But it made me think. I had a hard time giving up a M rated game. Would I have a hard time giving up something of more value, or would I be able to follow the Lord’s commandment if it included living in a tent?
During the last few weeks, I have been listening to the 2010 October General Conference on the way to work. And something hit me pretty hard in a couple of the talks. In the first session, Elder Claudio R. M. Costa gave a talk by the title of, “Obedience to the Prophets.” In this talk he references a talk by President Ezra Taft Benson (when he was the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles). The talk he referenced was given at a BYU devotional in the Marriott Center in 1980. The talk called, “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet” included 14 things that we should know about the prophet, and the importance of having a living prophet on the Earth today. (I am not going to list the 14 fundamentals here, because I want to you to back and read them yourself).
Then, later that day there was a talk by Elder Kevin R. Duncan called “Our Very Survival“. Elder Duncan then gives the same reference that Elder Costa did, and then lists the 14 fundamentals again. I then started to think, why do you think that two of the brethren would quote the exact same fireside by President Benson? I think that it is because we needed to hear it twice for it to sink in.
It makes me wonder what commandment the Lord is going to give through his prophet that we may find hard to listen to. Why is it so important for us to know what type of revelation the Lord and give us through is prophets? Will we be willing to live in a tent, and to forsake what the Lord asks us to give up. If the prophet gave us a laundry list of things to remove form our lives, would we get rid of those riches and live in a tent if commanded to? Are we going to be to prideful to give up our M rated computer games… If we can’t do that, then how are we suppose to give up the hard things if asked? Like Pride, Jealousy, and the other sins that many of us want to keep as riches.
Elder Scott gave a talk entitled “The Transforming Power of Faith and Character“, on the same day of Conference. In his talk he talks about how important it is for us to have Faith and Character to be able to do what the Lord asks us to do. “The bedrock of character is integrity. Worthy character will strengthen your capacity to recognize the direction of the Spirit and to be obedient to it. Your consistent exercise of faith builds strong character. A secure foundation for your growing character is laid by making Jesus Christ and His teachings the center of your life.” We need to be able to have Character so when the Lord asks us through his prophets to do something that may be hard, we will have the strength to be obedient to it. Elder Scott continues:
Material things do not of themselves produce happiness and satisfaction and the joy of attainment on earth. Nor do they lead us to exaltation. It is nobility of character, that fabric of inner strength and conviction woven from countless righteous decisions, that gives life its direction. A consistent, righteous life produces an inner power and strength that can be permanently resistant to the eroding influence of sin and transgression. Your faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to His commandments will strengthen your character. Your character is a measure of what you are becoming. It is the evidence of how well you are using your time on earth in this period of mortal probation.
He also tells us that “character is not developed in moments of great challenge or temptation. That is when it is intended to be used.” We need to develop character and be obedient by using our faith so that we can do what the Lord asks us to do. Even if he asks us to give up our riches and go live in a tent.
Elder Scott continues, “Neither Satan nor any other power can destroy or undermine your growing character. Only you could do that through disobedience. A sterling character is converted into worthless ashes when eroded by deceit or transgression.”
Lets make sure that we keep our Character and Faith strong, so that when the Prophets tell us to do something we can be obedient to those commandments. So that our character is not eroded by deceit or transgression.