Thursday, July 21, 2016

Alma 29:5 -- On Getting What We Want

"Yea, and I know that good and evil have come before all men; he that knoweth not good from evil is blameless; but he that knoweth good and evil, to him it is given according to his desires, whether he desireth good or evil, life or death, joy or remorse of conscience."
Alma 29:5

Sometimes I think that all of us are living kind of Jekyll and Hyde lives, sometimes pure and blameless, and sometimes things that we would never want anyone to know.  The problem is that we get them mixed up sometimes in an Isaiah 5:20 sort of a way, thinking that evil is good and good is evil... always thinking that "we" are the good ones, and that the evil is somehow other or external to ourselves.

Sometimes we do this because we're confused.  Popular media tells us that "true love" justifies all else, and we believe it, so under the guise of "love," which we think is inherently good, we commit sin and destroy lives, thinking all the time that we're justified because our love is so true, and the truth sets you free, right?  ... Except, of course, that the media is wrong, and that whole vision of how things are is a horrible twisting of good and evil and scripture.  We can do the same thing with family, work, schooling, and so much else... all of these good things that we sometimes set up as excuses to mistreat and abuse others, thinking that these "minor" sins are okay in the service to some other good.  "... and thus the devil cheateth [our] souls, and leadeth [us] away carefully down to hell" (2 Nephi 28:21).

We don't set out in the morning to bring evil to the world, but how often do we without meaning to, just because we are either oblivious to the way that we affect others, or perhaps think it doesn't really matter?  We yell at others in traffic, or on the phone, we dismiss other people's ideas as ludicrous or stupid, we mock others who like things that we do not.  We hate people of other ethnicities, races, genders, sexual preferences, religions, or political parties, and believe that it is justified.  So, according to our verse above, if we desire evil (even if we only desire it for others), then we might want to be worried about the gifts that we will receive from God.

Maybe something that would help us in our lives is to imagine for a minute that in our Jekyll and Hyde lives that we're actually the evil side, and we have a lot of work to do to entice the good side back to us, and try to change our desires and habits.  That is not all true either, since of course we don't actually live in a fantasy novel and we're not split in half... but there is a lot of truth in that idea.  We, like King Lamoni's father, need to "be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of [our] breast[s], and receive his Spirit" (Alma 22:15).  We need to be humble enough to recognize our faults and correct them, including our desires for evil.

Today, let's think hard about our desires, and make sure that we aren't twisting or corrupting gospel concepts with "popular" morality.  Let's make sure we aren't taking one good thing and using it to justify evil, and that we aren't putting anything before God and his commandments.  God tells us above that he is going to give us what we truly want... so let's be careful and cognizant of that promise, and desire to be truly good, and truly do good things for others, no matter who they are.  As we do, God will reward our good desires.

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