Today’s Reading: Helaman 13:20-39
26 Behold ye are worse than they; for as the Lord liveth, if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him; yea, you will say that he is a false prophet, and that he is a sinner, and of the devil, because he testifieth that your deeds are evil.
27 But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth—and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet.
Samuel the Lamanite is still preaching from the top of a wall. He is begging the wicked Nephites to listen to some form of reason. But he is getting nowhere fast.
If there is one thing that I have learned in my life, it’s that people who are allowing themselves to be tutored by the adversary cannot recognize or listen to gospel reasoning. Satan is very good at warping and distorting thoughts to the point where you just cannot recognize truth when it is staring you right in the face. The Nephites were looking upon a prophet of the Lord standing atop this wall in front of them and what did they do? They mocked him. They shot arrows at him. They threw rocks at him. They tried to kill him. Truth was right in front of them, and they said, “We don’t need truth! We like living the way we are living. Don’t come in here and preach to us that we are sinning!” Hmm…sounds like the words of a guilty conscience to me. Isn’t it funny how that works? It never fails. When we are doing something that we feel or know is not right, we immediately jump to the defense when someone tries to suggest that we are in the wrong.
And what is the prophet Samuel saying in this block of scriptures? Well, I feel that basically he is asking, “What kind of prophet do you want? Do you want a prophet who declares God’s truth even though it may be contrary to how you are living or how you feel? Or do you want a prophet who will pat your little head and send you on your way, free to do whatever you choose with no thought of consequence?” Samuel goes on to tell the Nephites that they will regret their decision to keep sinning and not repent. And yet, they continue to mock him and try to kill him.
“As a prophet reveals the truth it divides the people. The honest in heart heed his words but the unrighteous either ignore the prophet or fight him. When the prophet points out the sins of the world, the worldly either want to close the mouth of the prophet, or else act as if the prophet didn’t exist, rather than repent of their sins.” -Ezra T. Benson [i]
So, what kind of prophet do you want? When the prophet of our day, President Thomas S. Monson, calls us to repentance on one thing or another, are you among the first to cast a stone at him by disagreeing with what he has prophesied or do you take the words that he says to the Lord to ask for confirmation? Do you look at the standards set in the “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet and say, “Well, those don’t really apply to me because…” and rationalize yourself out of feeling guilty? Do you look forward to General Conference weekend not because of the opportunity we have to listen to our prophet and apostles but because it is “a week off”? If so then may I suggest that you put down your stones and arrows and allow yourself the opportunity to counsel with the Lord in prayer. Ask Him to help you gain a stronger testimony of his chosen leaders. Start by choosing to follow their counsel instead of rationalizing yourself out of it. Remember the counsel from our Savior?
John 7:17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
If you want to know if the prophet’s counsel and advice is true, then you have to follow it to gain a testimony of it! Practice makes perfect does not just apply to learning an instrument or other new skill. It applies to following the teachings of our Savior as well, which includes following the counsel from His chosen servants.
“As we prayerfully read and study sacred prophetic word with faith in Christ, with real intent, the Holy Ghost will speak truth to our minds and hearts. May we open our ears to hear, our hearts to understand, and our minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to our view.” -Carol F. McConkie [ii]