Mosiah Chapter 4
Mosiah 4:14-15 Benjamin's counsel to teach your children to walk in the ways of truth and soberness.
Mosiah 4:16-19 Benjamin's counsel for dealing with a beggar: Ye will not suffer that the beggar will put up his petition to you in vain. Are we not all beggars?
Mosiah 4:27 It is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength.
Mosiah 4:30 Benjamin counsels: If ye do not watch yourselves, ye must perish. O man, remember, and perish not.
1 And now, it came to pass that when king Benjamin had made an end of speaking the words which had been delivered unto him by the angel of the Lord, that he cast his eyes round about on the multitude, and behold they had fallen to the earth, for the fear of the Lord had come upon them.
verse 1 Why do we today not fall to earth or prostrate ourselves as a manifestation of our humility and respect? Today our cultural habits of worship do not include this outward display as they obviously did with the Nephites. Other ancient and contemporary cultures have in the past and do today practice this form of worship. We can only hope that in spite of our reservedness regarding the outward physical displays of our worship, we feel inwardly the same adoration and respect and reverence as these other cultures.
"the fear of the Lord had come upon them" The word "fear" here does not mean fright. Rather it implies awe, reverence, or respect.
2 And they had viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth. And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men.
verse 2 "they had viewed themselves in their own carnal state" Earlier, it was said of Benjamin's people, "They have been a diligent people in keeping the commandments of the Lord." Why do they now view themselves as being in a carnal state? Certainly, the ability of mortal man to see himself in a perfect eternal perspective can only be achieved as a gift from the Spirit of God. How might we refer to such a gift? Perhaps it may be appropriately called gratitude or humility or divine indebtedness (see the discussion of this vastly important gift of the Spirit in the introductory commentary for Mosiah 2:19-24). Only the recipients of this gift are able to perceive their utter and absolute dependence upon the Savior. Only those so blessed can see clearly the very real and potentially deadly, in an eternal sense, weakness each of us possesses as a result of the "natural self" potential within each of us.
What remarkable spiritual blessings these people had experienced as a result of Benjamin's words and the ministrations of the Spirit. They had been significantly boosted along the path toward their sanctification. As with all of us, though, every level of spiritual progress is potentially fleeting lest we continually strive.
There is also a completely positive aspect to the Lord's revealed perspective our our true spiritual condition. This is the gift of hope. See a discussion of this gift in "Perquisite Gifts of the Spirit" in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 1 of chapter 8, The Blessings of Spiritual Gifts.
"even less than the dust of the earth" For a discussion of the meaning of this alarming expression, see the commentary for Mosiah 2:25.
"And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy" Whom are the people addressing? King Benjamin? It is more likely they are addressing the Lord himself.
It has been suggested that the people's falling to the ground and crying out in unison "O have mercy" may have been part of the ritual of the annual festival celebration (Terrence L. Szink and John W. Welch, "An Ancient Israelite Festival Context," in King Benjamin's Speech Made Simple, 137).
"apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins" Again here is the exciting principle initially discussed in the commentary for Mosiah 3:13. How can the atoning blood of Christ be applied to any of the Nephite people when that blood will not even be shed for some hundred and fifty or so years? How is it possible that people who lived before the time of Christ could receive forgiveness of their sins when the great atoning sacrifice had not yet been made? Did the Lord Jehovah have the power to extend to men a complete forgiveness of their sins when he had not yet atoned for those sins? Of course the Lord was able to forgive sins and did so many times in Old Testament times (see, for example, Isaiah 6:7). Those who lived before the meridian of time (even Adam and Eve) who had faith in Jesus Christ and in his future atonement and who lived his commandments, could be beneficiaries of his atoning blood just as surely as those who have lived since Christ's atonement. In its infinite nature, the atonement is also timeless. At the time of King Benjamin, the Nephites were urged to have faith in Christ and in his future atonement. According to divine foreknowledge, that atonement would take place. If the Nephites did accept Christ and his atonement and repented of their sins, they could be forgiven just as surely as we can today. We will learn in the following verse that these repentant Nephites did in fact receive a forgiveness of their sins. Christ's atoning blood was applied to them!
"for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God" Something very profound is happening to these Nephites. In the purest sense they are experiencing a more complete conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ. How complete does our conversion need to be? Joseph Smith taught: "A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation" (Lectures on Faith, 6:7). This may not always mean having to give up all one's worldly possessions to the Church, but it certainly does imply a willingness to completely forsake worldliness, embrace the Spirit, and place in highest priority matters of the eternities. We spoke previously of the endowment-like ceremony in which these Nephites had been involved. They had doubtless entered into solemn covenants over and beyond that which they made at their baptism, and they had been given the name Jesus Christ in the context of making covenants (see Mosiah 5:7).
3 And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according to the words which king Benjamin had spoken unto them.
verse 3 "the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins" Can an individual enjoy the companionship of the Holy Ghost without being forgiven of his or her sins? Perhaps not. After all, we know that no unclean thing can dwell in the divine presence. Let us hope that a personal experience with the Holy Ghost implies a remission of one's sins.
Joy is that deeply fulfilling emotion that is most always associated with spiritual growth. This is the definition of joy that pertains in the scriptures. One may feel joy for his own spiritual growth, or it is possible to feel joy vicariously when someone close to you experiences spiritual growth. Joy is different from happiness or pleasure. It is a richer and more abiding emotion.
4 And king Benjamin again opened his mouth and began to speak unto them, saying: My friends and my brethren, my kindred and my people, I would again call your attention, that ye may hear and understand the remainder of my words which I shall speak unto you.
verse 4 Perhaps "my friends and my brethren" were the people of Zarahemla (Mulekites), and "my kindred and my people" were his own people, the Nephites.
5 For behold, if the knowledge of the goodness of God at this time has awakened you to a sense of your nothingness, and your worthless and fallen state-
verse 5 "the knowledge of the goodness of God" It is probably appropriate to regard this knowledge as a spiritual conviction of the atonement.
"your nothingness, and your worthless and fallen state" Though he seems guilty of using a bit of hyperbole, Benjamin likely used these words to emphasize the contrast between the exalted state of God and the fallen state of man including the latter's complete inability to save himself. It is appropriate for man to feel a profound and abject sense of humility and utter dependence upon the Savior. An appropriate associated emotion should be a feeling of deeply-held gratitude to him for the opportunity he has given to us to be redeemed.
6 I say unto you, if ye have come to a knowledge of the goodness of God, and his matchless power, and his wisdom, and his patience, and his long-suffering towards the children of men; and also, the atonement which has been prepared from the foundation of the world, that thereby salvation might come to him that should put his trust in the Lord, and should be diligent in keeping his commandments, and continue in the faith even unto the end of his life, I mean the life of the mortal body-
7 I say, that this is the man who receiveth salvation, through the atonement which was prepared from the foundation of the world for all mankind, which ever were since the fall of Adam, or who are, or who ever shall be, even unto the end of the world.
verses 6-7 Here is another of those "longest sentences in the Book of Mormon."
The phrase "prepared from the foundation of the world" found in each of these verses refers to something that was known about and taught about in the premortal phase even before the creation of the earth.
verse 7 The phrase "which ever were since the fall of Adam, or who are, or who ever shall be, even unto the end of the world" simply underscores the preceding adjective-"all mankind."
8 And this is the means whereby salvation cometh. And there is none other salvation save this which hath been spoken of; neither are there any conditions whereby man can be saved except the conditions which I have told you.
verse 8 "neither are there any conditions whereby man can be saved except the conditions which I have told you" What are these conditions? Humble yourself and realize your utter dependence upon the Savior for your salvation (Mosiah 2:20-21; Mosiah 2:25; Mosiah 2:40; Mosiah 3:19). Study the scriptures and learn the commandments (Mosiah 2:34-35). Deliberately obey the commandments of God (Mosiah 2:22; Mosiah 2:41). Avoid evil (Mosiah 2:33; Mosiah 2:27). Trust in Christ who is to come and in his atonement (Mosiah 3:5-18; Mosiah 3:6-7). Confess your sins and repent of them (Mosiah 3:2), and receive the Holy Ghost (Mosiah 3:3).
What about baptism? It is not mentioned in these verses. Is not salvation impossible without baptism? It is indeed impossible. It is likely Benjamin's people had already been baptized by water since baptism is a doctrine of the law of Moses (D&C 84:27). Also, this verse may be an example of a merism. See the discussion of merismus in the introductory commentary for 2 Nephi 31.
Also we will learn that we must expand our understanding of the ordinance of baptism. Baptism is at the very heart of the spiritual progress we make here in mortality. Baptism is the very ordinance by which we grow spiritually. The ordinance of baptism consists of three distinct ordinances-the baptism of water, the baptism of the Spirit, and the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost. Please see the important discussion of the complete ordinance of baptism in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 1, chapter 18, Baptism, the Ordinance that Brings Spiritual Growth.
9 Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.
verse 9 "man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend" This profound truth is likely only fully appreciated by the converted, sanctified, reborn individual. Only he is fully aware of man's relative nothingness regarding his insight and knowledge. The proud and "learned" are ignorant of this truth. This thought is continued in verse 11.
10 And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them.
verse 10 "If you believe all these things see that ye do them" One is reminded of the sign President Spencer W. Kimball reportedly kept on his desk. It said simply, "Do it."
11 And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel.
verse 11 "standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come" Do you believe it is easier to have faith in Christ in our dispensation than it was in Benjamin's day? After all, we have the scriptural record available to us which "proves" that Christ did come to earth, and he atoned for our sins. Perhaps it should be easier, but I suspect it is not. Many people today will fall by the way out of apathy, ignorance, or worldliness even though the record of Christ's ministry-plus the testimonies of several eye witnesses-is available to all.
12 And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.
verse 12 "ye shall grow" Here is an important principle. As long as we are involved in the kingdom of God and conscientiously and pro-actively working to live the principles of the gospel, there will be continual growth in our knowledge of eternal things and in our eternal character. This is not to say that we mortals will not have our lapses-our moments of regression. Yet diligence will inevitably result in spiritual growth.
13 And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due.
verse 13 Those individuals who are in touch with the Spirit have no disposition other than to help and bless others. It is natural that as we become more confident with our standing before God, we turn our attentions (our "arrows") outward-to others (see the commentary for verses 20-21 of this chapter).
verses 14-15 In these verses, King Benjamin describes the blessings of deep conversion-the inclinations of the individual who has arrived at the point of a profound appreciation of and gratitude to the Savior. These verses may also be regarded as a commandment to the parents of children.
14 And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness.
15 But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.
verses 14-15 To those of us who have labored to bring up children, the counsel contained in these verses is sobering. Some children seem naturally inclined to obey and conform their lives to the principles of the gospel. Others do not. Our challenge lies with this latter group. We must never be found guilty of not doing all we can for them, even if we should ultimately fail.
verses 16-26 These next eleven verses contain King Benjamin's notable and clearly stated teachings on Christian charity and service. Brother Rodney Turner aptly said, "We all travel the Jericho road-sometimes as the injured Jew, sometimes as the good Samaritan. It is for God to be just. It is for his children to be merciful. To judge others as unworthy of our help, and then to withhold it, is to assume a prerogative the Lord has not given us. Everything we have belongs to the Lord. He has commanded us to share his substance with others. . .. Inheriting the 'true riches' of heaven depends upon our faithfulness as stewards over the Lord's wealth on earth" (Studies in Scripture, volume seven, 1 Nephi to Alma 29, 221, italics added).
In teaching his people about the importance of service, it is apparent that Benjamin was not just teaching another of a litany of saving principles. His people had already been baptized, and they had a basic understanding of the principles of repentance, baptism, and forgiveness. He now intended to give them something more, something vital. Benjamin now intended to teach them how they might retain the remission of sins which they obtained at baptism. He understood through personal revelation and experience that great mystery Christ would later teach during his earthly ministry: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:40). Charity and service are the covenant obligations of members of Christ's Church. Giving deliberate service is the very mechanism for earning the spiritual gift of charity. Service is deliberate charity (see Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 1, chapter 7, Spiritual Growth-Gifts of the Spirit). No action of ours is more soul-exalting than that of selfless service. Benjamin teaches in verse 26 that Christlike service is the key to obtaining "a remission of [our] sins from day to day."
The act of service is the earthly counterpart, indeed the "school" in which we earn the gift of charity. As we deliberately serve others, even if we don't feel like doing so, then we are "experimenting upon [the] words" of Christ. We are qualifying ourselves to eventually receive the highest of all spiritual gifts, the gift of charity. Only by receiving this gift by divine revelation, once we are judged qualified by the Spirit of God, can we truly come to know and feel-indeed, actually possess-the pure love of Christ.
16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.
17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just-
verse 17 Chauncy C. Riddle wrote:
We observe in Nephite history the typical pattern in the societies of "natural men." Society is stable and prosperous when there is a religious piety and humility among a people. But when pride enters, people reject God and morality and begin to fashion their own designs to foster their personal interests. Those who are proud forget that every person is a beggar before God, dependent upon him for life, breath, and prosperity. They begin to think that their good fortune in being richer or more learned or more refined than other people is due to their intelligence, or their hard work, or their superior genes. They begin to say of the poor, in their words of king Benjamin: "The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just" (Mosiah 4:17) ("Days of Wickedness and Vengeance: Analysis of 3 Nephi 6 and 7" in The Book of Mormon Helaman Through 3 Nephi 8, According To Thy Word, 196).We observe in Nephite history the typical pattern in the societies of "natural men." Society is stable and prosperous when there is a religious piety and humility among a people. But when pride enters, people reject God and morality and begin to fashion their own designs to foster their personal interests. Those who are proud forget that every person is a beggar before God, dependent upon him for life, breath, and prosperity. They begin to think that their good fortune in being richer or more learned or more refined than other people is due to their intelligence, or their hard work, or their superior genes. They begin to say of the poor, in their words of king Benjamin: "The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just" (Mosiah 4:17) ("Days of Wickedness and Vengeance: Analysis of 3 Nephi 6 and 7" in The Book of Mormon Helaman Through 3 Nephi 8, According To Thy Word, 196).
18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.
verse 18 "no interest in the kingdom of God" How are we to interpret the word "interest" here? Perhaps it is referring to the fact that the uncharitable individual will have no claim upon, or no stock, stake, or holding within the kingdom. Alternatively, perhaps we are being taught that such an uncharitable man will lose his desire for the kingdom of God and will become indifferent toward it.
19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?
verse 19 "For behold, are we not all beggars?" Do we really own anything in this world? We tend to attribute much credit to ourselves for our diligence in "earning" our material possessions. Yet, again, do we really own anything? How permanent is our ownership?
20 And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy.
verse 20 "ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins" In the previous verse, we learn that we are all beggars in that we all depend on the same being, even God, for the substance we have. In yet another sense, also, we are all beggars. We are all beggars for grace. The term grace refers to a favorable merciful disposition (love) God has for man, without that favorable disposition's being earned or merited. If a man accepts the gospel, joins the Church, and adheres faithfully to all the commandments, he still, on his own merit, does not have enough eternal credits to become exalted in the celestial kingdom. He must await the grace of God-the granting of the privilege of entering into eternal life to those who do not fully merit it.
"has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance" Benjamin's people could find no words to adequately express their joy.
21 And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.
verses 20-21 Note Benjamin's compelling logic: Once you are aware of your utter dependence on the grace of God spoken of in verse 20, you are then disposed to beg for his mercy. In your helpless and pitiful state, does God abandon you? No, he comes willingly to your rescue and pours his Spirit out upon you! If God, without being compelled, comes anxiously to your rescue, shouldn't you, in turn, come to the rescue to those of your fellow mortals who need your help even if they don't "deserve" it. Shouldn't you willingly impart of your substance to anyone who needs it? Eventually inheriting the eternal riches of heaven is contingent upon our stewardship over the possessions the Lord allows you to hold here upon the earth. If the Spirit has truly born witness to you of God's mercy toward you, that same mercy cannot help but spill over into the lives of others.
22 And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done.
verse 22 "And if he judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him . . .." The essential issue here is that if a man comes to you and asks for some of your material goods, claiming that he will perish without them, it is not for you to pass judgment as to his worthiness. Rather, you must simply assess his need and give accordingly. After all, your material goods are not really, in the last analysis, yours at all, but God's. All things belong to God.
"and yet ye put up no petition" A man who is devoid of the Spirit, which bears witness of man's proper relationship to God, has no inclination to beg for God's mercy. He is oblivious of his abject and helpless state and his complete dependence upon God. He has no motivation to repent.
23 I say unto you, wo be unto that man, for his substance shall perish with him; and now, I say these things unto those who are rich as pertaining to the things of this world.
verse 23 "his substance shall perish with him" Worldly wealth is an illusion. No one really owns his stewardship. All things, even our lives, belong to the Lord.
24 And again, I say unto the poor, ye who have not and yet have sufficient, that ye remain from day to day; I mean all you who deny the beggar, because ye have not; I would that ye say in your hearts that: I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give.
25 And now, if ye say this in your hearts ye remain guiltless, otherwise ye are condemned; and your condemnation is just for ye covet that which ye have not received.
verses 24-25 Benjamin then instructs those who are poor relative to material goods-those who barely have enough for their needs. It is vital, even for these, to be completely converted to the concept of giving to those who are in need. They must come to the point of yearning in their heart to be able to give to the needy, and they must be prevented only by the fact that they don't possess sufficient material goods. Those who do not develop this yearning are condemned. They are accused of coveting material things they do not possess.
Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet have observed that these verses illustrate an important principle which they call the "doctrine of intent." It is "the principle that we are judged by the intent of our hearts. Those unable to give must still have in their hearts the fixed determination to share with those in need and the longing that a time will come when they are in a position to do so. Should that not be their intent and desire, they are as much to be condemned as those who have refused to be caring of others" (Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, volume II, 166-67).
26 And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you-that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God-I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.
verse 26 The message of this verse is clear, and it may come as a surprise to some of us. Is this really a doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ? It is indeed a vital saving principle of the gospel. There is no one in the Church who has not been counseled to impart of their substance to the poor, yet how many of us know that the command to do so is fundamental and essential to our eventual exaltation? There can be no mistaking the emphasis Benjamin intended to give to this concept. The eternal precept is clear: In order to maintain a remission of our sins, we must "impart of [our] substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath." Doing so is a necessity and not just a nicety for true discipleship unto Christ.
"according to their wants" (italics added) We all share a tendency to give to the needy according to what we perceive as their needs as opposed to merely acquiescing to their "wants." The spirit of Benjamin's counsel is to be cautious about trying to sit in judgment as to a man's needs.
Consider the image created by the contemporary author Robert Fulghum as he described a scene that occurred in Oslo, Norway, in December of 1980:
A small, stooped woman in a faded blue sari and worn sandals received an award. From the hand of a king. An award funded from the will of the inventor of dynamite. In a great glittering hall of velvet and gold and crystal. Surrounded by the noble and famous in formal black and in elegant gowns. The rich, the powerful, the brilliant, the talented of the world in attendance. And there at the center of it all-a little old lady in sari and sandals. Mother Teresa, of India. Servant of the poor and sick and dying. To her, the Nobel Peace prize. No shah or president or king or general or scientist or pope; no banker or merchant or cartel or oil company or ayatollah holds the key to as much power as she has. None is as rich. For hers is the invincible weapon against the evils of this earth: the caring heart. And hers are the everlasting riches of this life: the wealth of the compassionate spirit (All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, New York: Villard, 1989).
If this counsel of King Benjamin's is indeed eternally valid, if each of us does have an absolute obligation to care for the poor and needy, then the converse version of the same principle is also true. That is, failure to care for the poor is spiritually dangerous. If we fail in our obligation to our needy brothers and sisters, then we lose our right to have our sins remitted.
Take a moment to read the specific counsel of the prophet Moroni directed specifically to us today. It is found in Mormon 8:35-39.
27 And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.
verse 27 This verse proffers excellent advice even when taken out of context. As general counsel, the verse speaks for the importance of balance and order. It is clear, however, that Benjamin was speaking specifically of meeting the needs of the disadvantaged. In trying to provide for the needy, a man must be cautious not to neglect the needs of his own self and family.
28 And I would that ye should remember, that whosoever among you borroweth of his neighbor should return the thing that he borroweth, according as he doth agree, or else thou shalt commit sin; and perhaps thou shalt cause thy neighbor to commit sin also.
verse 28 After all of the eloquent spiritual rhetoric, some have felt it a bit surprising that Benjamin would provide such a plain and ordinary example. Perhaps he intended that this mundane example teach us an important lesson. There is a tendency in all of us to hear inspiring teachings that touch us with the Spirit. But then as we go back to our every-day world, we may fail to see how those teachings are applicable in purely practical ways in our day-to-day lives. We may fail to make the connection between the sermons we hear at church and borrowing a shovel from our neighbor. They are indeed applicable, and we need to learn that lesson. We need to learn to make a swift transition between the spiritual principle and its worldly practical application.
29 And finally, I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin; for there are divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them.
verse 29 "divers ways and means" Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language defines divers as, "Different, various, several, sundry."
verses 28-29 Here is an important principle. Small and even apparently insignificant sins can lead to the loss of great blessings. King Benjamin, in these verses, emphasizes this principle by warning, not against overt and obvious transgressions, but against small and relatively less visible sins.
As you muse over verse 28, particularly the final phrase, "and perhaps thou shalt cause thy neighbor to commit sin also," you will probably smile since it strikes at what is so typical of human nature.
30 But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.
verse 30 A true convert to the church of Christ-a saint-is not superficially converted. He is not simply able to control his outward actions. Rather, even his thoughts are attuned to the Spirit. He is fundamentally and basically changed. His whims and inclinations and idle thoughts all align themselves with things of an eternal nature. His words and actions are mere reflections of a fundamentally changed inner personality.
"And now, O man, remember, and perish not." The word remember here is far richer than simply calling to mind. See the commentary for Mosiah 2:41.