(Continued from last week…)
Practice makes progress; Jesus makes perfect.
“…when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated” (D&C 130: 21).
Curious. The Lord tells us that each blessing received from Him comes as a result of obedience. But He doesn’t specify whose obedience. What I mean is this: We can receive blessings because of our obedience…or—and we must consider this—because of someone else’s obedience. Think of it, our efforts at obedience here can be the catalyst through which the Lord grants blessings to others.
The angel told Alma the younger—who had been anything but obedient—that it was because of his father, Alma, that this angel had been sent by God to bring young Alma to a knowledge of the truth (see Mosiah 27: 14). Now, young Alma could refuse the blessing offered. He could have still rejected the angel’s message and continued on in his ways of sin and rebellion. But he humbled himself and saw in this blessing of divine warning, something he was completely undeserving of—“not of any worthiness of myself” (Alma 36: 5)—but something he would now take advantage of. After three days of the most bitter anguish of soul, he called upon Jesus Christ for mercy. And he received that mercy! And these blessings were offered to him, in part, because of another person’s faithfulness…that of his own father!
Now, looking at young Alma’s father, it was the obedience of Abinadi—allowing himself to be taken by King Noah’s men—that paved the way for blessings to come to Alma, Sr. For he, himself “was caught in a snare, and did many things which were abominable in the sight of the Lord” (Mosiah 23: 9). But Abinadi’s faithfulness and preaching were the means the Lord used to bring father Alma to repentance, and a mighty change of heart; Alma, Sr. then in turn preached to others, “and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts” (Alma 5: 11-13). How many souls were eventually blessed and saved because Abinadi suffered himself at the Lord’s command to fall into the hands of Noah’s people! (See Mosiah 13: 2-4; 17: 9.)
Or, what of the brother of Jared, whose obedience brought great pleasure to the Lord! When he prayed for his brother, Jared, and their friends and families, “the Lord had compassion upon Jared” and “upon their friends and their families also” (Ether 1: 34-43). These many souls were blessed through the instrumentality of the brother of Jared’s faithfulness—because he was “a man highly favored of the Lord.”
Now, these are just a few examples, but history is filled with accounts where God blesses some individual or group of people because of the obedience of someone else. In fact, we don’t have to look beyond our own lives for such stories. What blessings have you received because of the faithfulness of a family member, or friend, or church leader? What blessings are others enjoying from God’s hand because of your obedience?
Finally, all of these are types of Christ, for ultimately, every blessing and good thing that comes to any one of us comes because of His obedience; “otherwise…there could no good thing come unto [us]” (Moroni 7: 24), and we’ll talk about this in depth at a later time. But for now, how many blessings do we get, because of Jesus’ obedience?
The prophet Zenos declared that the Lord was merciful to him when he prayed in the wilderness concerning those who were his enemies, “and thou didst turn them to me….when I did cry unto thee in my field…thou didst hear me….when I did turn to my house thou didst hear me….when I did turn unto my closet…thou didst hear me….when I have been cast out and have been despised…thou didst hear my cries….and it is because of thy Son that thou hast been merciful unto me…for thou hast turned thy judgments away from me, because of thy Son” (Alma 33: 4-11). Glorious truth! Here, a prophet of the Lord is saying in essence: ‘I deserve the judgments of God to come upon me; but the Father has turned those judgments away from me because of His Son!’
We practice and often fail in our obedience; but in our practicing, we are tutored and taught by the Spirit of the Lord. At first we might think: I’m doing such and such, keeping this commandment and responding to that duty, so I deserve, I deserve! But God is going to eventually get through to us and we will then realize that what we really deserve (because of our sins) is the judgment of God upon us. And yet—glad tidings of great joy!—our all-wise and loving Father has designed and engineered a plan that can bring mercy upon us rather than judgment, and all because of His Son!
Look at Jesus and His obedience. If any one deserves blessings, it is Jesus, who was perfectly obedient. And yet, one of the things that Jesus gets because of His absolute obedience is the power to claim his “rights of mercy” in administering blessings to the rest of us (see Moroni 7: 27). He deserves…so we get.
“Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased…Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life” (D&C 45: 3-5).
What an overly generous universe we live in, and all because of the Son of God!
(to be continued…)