Daily Reading 3 Nephi 9:1-11
Have you ever read about the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment? In it, researchers took a variety of children. Researchers told the children they could eat one reward right now or if the waited about 15 minutes, then they could have two treats instead of one. What the research has shown over the years is that those children who could delay gratification, even for just a few more minutes, had greater life outcomes.
Now what do marshmallows have to do with 3 Nephi? Oh so much! For decades, these Nephites were led by some of the most humble and brilliant of leaders – Alma, Moroni, Nephi and Lehi, Samuel, Helaman and his Stripling Warriors. They were flooded with choices to choose the long game, to choose faith, to choose to obey even when it wasn’t easy. And some of them did. But this last batch of Nephites stoned and mocked the prophets. They killed women and children. They corrupted the law to their own favor and bought the judges of the land, and they entered into secret combinations to get gain.
In short, they ate their one marshmallow instead of waiting till Jesus came to give them their second reward. Maybe they really like that one marshmallow and what it gave them – the reward of power, greed, influence, power to hurt, captivate, disorient, power to kill, steal and do their own thing without supposed consequences.
Well, now in 3 Nephi 9, the consequences come.
I burned the great city of Zarahemla and the inhabitants thereof – vs 3
I caused to be sunk into the depths of the sea the inhabitants of the city of Moroni – vs 4
I covered with earth the great city of Moronihah and it’s inhabitants to hide their iniquities – vs 5
I caused the city of Gilgal to be sunk and the inhabitants to be buried – vs 6
I caused the city to be burned by fire because of the sins and wickedness – vs 9
The personal pronoun I is mentioned at least 11 times in the first 11 vs of 3 Nephi 9. Jesus wants these inhabitants to know He caused this destruction personally. These acts are not just random acts of nature but the actual doings of the Creator of the Earth, the Jesus they had been taught about but had ignored. He was the guy that they thought wasn’t real, that they thought would never come, that they devalued completely.
In truth, this chapter often haunts me. As I examine my life sometimes, I wonder what kind of reward am I seeking. Is it the one marshmallow quick and easy kind? The praise of man? The ease of comfort and conformity? The gluttony and self-indulgence of 24/7 technology? The busyness of life to the exclusion of other people?
Am I placing value everyday on Jesus and the prophets He has sent to teach me? Am I quick to change my ways or do I try to excuse myself?
I am in process. I am human and I fail sometimes. Probably yes, at some point, to all of the above. But my hope and the desire of my heart is cultivate discipline and to choose faith. So when He comes to see me again, we won’t talk of destruction, but rather I will fall at His feet in gratitude and praise. And that will be second reward enough.