Saturday, April 12, 2014

Alma 41:9-14 -- On Seeking Happiness and Becoming Good

"And now behold, my son, do not risk one more offense against your God upon those points of doctrine, which ye have hitherto risked to commit sin.
Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration, that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness.
And now, my son, all men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in a carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness.
And now behold, is the meaning of the word restoration to take a thing of a natural state and place it in an unnatural state, or to place it in a state opposite to its nature?
O, my son, this is not the case; but the meaning of the word restoration is to bring back again evil for evil, or carnal for carnal, or devilish for devilish—good for that which is good; righteous for that which is righteous; just for that which is just; merciful for that which is merciful.
Therefore, my son, see that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually; and if ye do all these things then shall ye receive your reward; yea, ye shall have mercy restored unto you again; ye shall have justice restored unto you again; ye shall have a righteous judgment restored unto you again; and ye shall have good rewarded unto you again."
Alma 41:9-14

This is Alma talking to his son Corianton, which he does for several chapters right in here.  And it is great stuff, because he lays it all out so clearly, trying to get his son to listen and understand.  The statement "wickedness never was happiness" we can compare with Mormon 2:13 which says "the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin."  Sometimes we feel a temporary sort of happiness or excitement at sin... but it isn't something that lasts.  Once we are away from the drug or the person or whatever the obsession of the moment is, the euphoria disappears.  It is never the type of thing that brings lasting peace and satisfaction... that kind of happiness that reaches all the way down to your toes and makes you happier and more patient with the whole world.  There is no way to turn sin into happiness... it is just an illusion, and the more we reach for it, the farther away it seems.
Alma continues, telling his son that iniquity is contrary to happiness, and talking about restoration. He explains that we can't be restored to something that is contrary to our nature.  We can only be restored to what we are.  If we are merciful, we will be restored to mercy.  If we are good, we will be rewarded with good.  I like his explanation here because it makes it very clear that we have to really change our natures.  Our reference here can come from earlier in this same chapter, Alma 41:5: "The one raised to happiness according to his desires of happiness, or good according to his desires of good; and the other to evil according to his desires of evil." We have to change ourselves inside and out... desires and actions and thoughts and very nature, because whatever we *are* is what we will be restored to and rewarded with.  This doesn't mean that we aren't ourselves, or that we become automatons... at all.  That's Satan's plan. :)  God's plan retains our individuality, our choice of who we want to be.  If we don't truly want to be good, God won't force us into it... but we won't be rewarded with good either.  We get what we are, and what we hand out to others.  But part of us wanted to be good and wanted this plan, or we wouldn't be here in the first place... and I think down deep no matter what we've layered on top of it, is a really good soul, trying to be heard.  Today, let's listen... to our own goodness, and to God, and let's walk the path of happiness.  The one where we become who we truly want to be.  The best version of ourselves.  Let's listen to this advice given to a wayward son, and remember that it is also for us, from God.  Let's be good and do good, and have confidence, knowing that good will be restored to us.

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