BYU (Brigham Young University) is operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often mistakenly called the “Mormon Church.” As part of their undergraduate coursework, BYU students take multiple semesters of spiritually uplifting, stimulating religion classes.
In this series (see below), students enrolled in scripture study classes have shared their thoughts, insights, and reflections on the Book of Mormon in the form of letters to someone they know. We invite you to take a look at their epiphanies and discoveries as they delve into the scriptures.
In publishing these, we fulfill their desire to speak to all of us of the relevance, power and beauty of the Book of Mormon, a second witness of Jesus Christ and complement to the Bible. The Book of Mormon includes the religious history of a group of Israelites who settled in ancient America. (The names they use are those of prophets who taught the Book of Mormon peoples to look forward to the coming of Christ—Nephi, Lehi, Alma, Helaman, and other unfamiliar names. We hope those names will become more familiar to you as you read their inspiring words and feel the relevance and divinity of their messages through these letters.)
Let us know if you’d like to receive your own digital copy of the Book of Mormon, and/or if these messages encourage and assist you spiritually as well.
Mormonism: Left in Their Own Strength
I recently had a conversation with a friend that reminded me how important daily scripture study is in our lives. Not surprisingly, both of us agreed that we can tell the difference between the days we really study the scriptures and the days we just read a verse or two. Unfortunately though, we often don’t notice the difference scripture study makes in our lives until that influence is gone.
Most of the times when I do/say something I regret, I look back on the days preceding and find that those days are consistently when my scripture study consisted of “just a verse or two.” Perhaps I was “too tired” or “too busy” or a variety of other excuses. Regardless, the result is the same.
In the Book of Mormon, the Nephites, who were typically a righteous people, really struggled with living the gospel and bounced back and forth between being righteous and being wicked because they were becoming prideful.
“And because of this their great wickedness, and their boastings in their own strength, they were left in their own strength; therefore they did not prosper” (Helaman 4:13)
I love that line. Because of “their boastings in their own strength, they were left in their own strength.”
Isn’t me choosing not to read the scriptures just like telling Heavenly Father, “Hey, I think you’re really great, but today, I won’t need your help. I’m pretty sure I can handle temptation and trials on my own today, so I’m just gonna go to bed, skip the scriptures. I’ll read and pray when I need you again. Okay?”
Maybe that’s a little extreme, but you get my point.
By the end of the Book of Mormon, the Nephites, who were as righteous as can be through nearly the whole Book of Mormon, became totally wicked and ended up being destroyed through warfare.
I don’t believe the Nephites went from being stalwart church attendees to murderers overnight, but that they fell away little by little. Maybe one day they skipped church, and then a few days later they didn’t read their scriptures or pray, and then they began to let pride creep in as they started to attribute their various successes to themselves rather than recognizing God’s influence.
The end of the chapter says, “thus had they become weak…in the space of not so many years” (Helaman 4:26).
I think scripture study operates on this principle: when we don’t read our scriptures like we should, we too become weak in a short amount of time. If we aren’t familiarizing ourselves with the scriptures daily, we are less likely to make good choices simply because we won’t be as aware and spiritually conscious.
Now, not everyday is going to be a winning day with scripture study, but the more we surround ourselves with the words of Christ, the more likely we are to make the choices that He would. And isn’t that our end goal? To become more like Christ.
Perhaps we can all follow President Hinckley’s advice to try a little harder to be a little better.