Some of my favorite lessons learned from the scriptures are the result of a doctrine taught in one book of scripture followed by that same doctrine being demonstrated from another book of scripture, the two references being in perfect harmony to one another. I’d like to share just such a connection that involves Nephi, son of Lehi.
But first some background.
From his young adulthood until his death, Nephi served his family and their descendants in almost every way imaginable. He first served as an example, being willing to follow the Lord’s prophet (his father). This made it possible for him to grow into that very calling later, all the while filling many roles such as
He was an ideal leader, and there wasn’t anything he couldn’t do with the Lord’s help–and he had a deep testimony of that:
If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them.
His influence was so profound that his brother Jacob tells us that the Nephites chose to address Nephi’s successors as Nephi. To borrow a phrase, it’s as if the Nephites were declaring to successive kings: “What manner of King ought you to be? Even as Nephi was.”
What was the source of his influence? Consider these words in the final chapter he wrote:
3 But I, Nephi, have written what I have written, and I esteem it as of great worth, and especially unto my people. For I pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them; and I cry unto my God in faith, and I know that he will hear my cry.
4 And I know that the Lord God will consecrate my prayers for the gain of my people.
He wrote a great deal of things on metal plates–probably much more than we have read. The Lord commanded him to create two records, one for the sacred writings and one for the more secular, historical records. He knew the history of his people, their weaknesses, their strengths, their defeats and victories, great and small. He knew it because he lived it with them, serving them.In those 2 verses above Nephi demonstrates the most important Christlike attribute in a way that perfectly matches the description of that attribute (and how to acquire it) given 1,000 years later by two of his own descendants, Mormon and Moroni.
45 And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—
47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.
Just as Nephi was sure of his faith, he was sure of his charity, and could confidently testify with these words:
7 I have charity for my people, and great faith in Christ that I shall meet many souls spotless at his judgment-seat.
Nephi had paid the price for the spiritual gift of Charity. Moroni mentioned that Christ bestows charity upon his followers–they don’t develop it solely of their own accord. We need to ask for it and then take advantage of opportunities to demonstrate it. My mission president gave us advice on developing Christlike attributes:
Pray to God and beg him to help you change–to acquire the traits and attributes you seek. Then get up and act as if that blessing has already been bestowed.
27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.