Today I read 3 Nephi 4, an account of the Nephites battles against the Gadianton Robbers. It has long been a topic of discussion between my father and I of whether or not a righteous people need a standing army. The Lord does indeed take care of His people in their time of need. This chapter shows that actually. But if you ask my dad he will reference scriptures like Enoch where the Lord changed the course of rivers and uprooted mountains so that His people did not have to fight.
I on the other hand ascribe to the theory that as long as we are not guilty of the first or second offense, we have the right to defend ourselves and our families. It is a fun, healthy debate and never gets resolved but I am reminded of it in instances like this chapter. We talked last time about how the Nephites all gathered into one place in the center of their lands, as far as we know.
I find it interesting that the Robbers are unable to maintain their "living" except by plundering and murder. The scriptures says that they would not spread themselves out to raise grain for their food because of fear of the Nephite armies, yet they did not hesitate to spread themselves out in order to try and lay siege to the Nephite city. It goes back to what we said yesterday, the Robbers are inherently lazy. They will not work for their living. I was actually speaking with a co-worker last night who is originally from Detroit, MI and we were talking about organized crime and I mentioned my theory that whatever reason they give, the real reason people join organized crime is laziness and an unwillingness to work. She replied that while she had never thought of it that way, it's true. Most people turn to a life of crime because they do not wish to work. I realize there are some exceptions to the rule, but it holds true for at least 80% I feel.
One of the interesting parts of this chapter is that the Nephites recognized that they had to defeat their enemy, it was not enough to just defend themselves. However, they still listened to the Lord. As long as the Robbers were in their lands, they pursued them and attacked them. But as soon as the Robbers entered the wilderness, Gidgiddoni stopped them and would not allow his armies to pursue them any further.
However, the most telling part of this whole tale to me is the fact that when it was all said and done, they gave total credit for their great victory to God. It could indeed be argued that they saved themselves by their excellent strategies, but the Nephites knew better. They knew that it was the Lord their God who had delivered them from the hands of their enemies. And if you think about it, we can attribute everything good that we do to the Lord. For the Lord blessed us with life, He created us and gives our bodies life that we might survive in this mortal experience. I know that anytime I do something great, I always thank Him for His help. Even in college I used to thank Him after a test for helping me to remember the things I had learned. After all, D & C 59:21 states that in nothing is God offended save those who confess not His hand in all things. I take that statement very literally. We are our God's creations, our good works are His.
It is an important lesson to learn however that we should be involving God in our lives much more than we currently do. At least for most of us it's much more than we currently do. Elder Bednar taught in a recent conference that our morning prayer should be the spiritual creation of our day and we should go through our day with a prayer in our hearts. Imagine how much better we will behave if we have a prayer constantly in our hearts? When we invite the Lord into our day and make Him feel welcome, our lives will change. That I can promise you. You will behave differently because you will feel His presence near you, like He is looking over your shoulder throughout the day. That is my challenge to each of you, invite Him into your life, just for a day, and see what a difference it makes. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. Until tomorrow.