This week in the Come, Follow Me chapters, readers get to see a new side of Alma. As David Butler points out on this week’s episode of “Don’t Miss This,” we have seen how Alma teaches to large crowds and among people he doesn’t know, but in chapters 36–38 we get to see Alma in action as a father. He pulls in each of his three sons and delivers tender, personal counsel to them.
Alma deeply desires his sons to live righteously, making his teachings pointed and powerful even today. Here are three principles Alma emphasizes to his sons that, when correctly understood, can greatly impact our own lives.
Prospering in the Land
As Alma counsels his sons, he repeatedly reminds them of this promise: “Inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land.”
Alma isn’t the only one to teach this principle; prophets all throughout the Book of Mormon testify that keeping the commandments bring blessings (see Mosiah 2:22). But what does it really mean to prosper in the land?
Some may mistakenly assume that a promise of prosperity includes a promise of material wealth. The institute Book of Mormon manual clarifies otherwise:
It is not necessarily intended that all inhabitants will become materially rich in this life. Rather, there is a spiritual meaning to the word prosper. [Alma 36:30] teaches us that if we do not “keep the commandments of God,” then we shall not prosper but be “cut off from his presence.” Therefore, those who prosper in the land are those who are successful in obtaining the spiritual blessings of being close to the Lord. They are on a track that will lead to entering the Lord’s presence.
In his April 2020 general conference talk, “The Finest Homes,” Elder L. Whitney Clayton offered one example of spiritual prosperity when he said, “God’s prosperity is the power to press forward despite the problems of life.”
To help you recognize the blessings you have received from keeping the commandments, maybe take some time this week to act on King Benjamin’s invitation to “consider on the blessed and happy state of them that keep the commandments of God.” Individually or as a family, you could write down the spiritual knowledge or power that has come to you because of obedience to a commandment.
Small and Simple Things
Readers are probably familiar with this powerful line from Alma 37:6:
By small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.
Remembering the power of small and simple gospel practices will help motivate us to be consistent in our discipleship. In his talk, “Small and Simple Things” President Dallin H. Oaks said,
Consider the scripture study we’ve been taught to incorporate into our daily lives. Or consider the personal prayers and the kneeling family prayers that are regular practices for faithful Latter-day Saints. Consider attendance at seminary for youth or institute classes for young adults. Though each of these practices may seem to be small and simple, over time they result in powerful spiritual uplift and growth. This occurs because each of these small and simple things invites the companionship of the Holy Ghost, the Testifier who enlightens us and guides us into truth.
Come, Follow Me explains, “Sometimes we may feel like our problems are so big and complicated that the solutions must be big and complicated too. Yet time and time again, the Lord chooses to use ‘small and simple things’ to accomplish His work and bless the lives of His children.”
Consider a big problem in your life. Could there be a small and simple thing you could do to address it? Maybe a good first step is to pray and ask Heavenly Father for a simple task you can do today. Then, act with faith, ready to respond to promptings—no matter how small they seem.
Alma’s Instruction to Shiblon to ‘Be Sober’
In Alma 38:15, the very last counsel Alma gives to his son Shiblon is to “be sober.” To the modern reader that may sound like odd advice, especially because we just read that Alma has had great joy in Shiblon’s “faithfulness” and “diligence.” You may ask yourself—why did Alma feel the need to remind Shiblon to abstain from alcohol?
In this week’s episode of Sunday on Monday, host Tammy Uzelac Hall offers a helpful explanation,
Highlight “be sober” because this is such a great word in this verse of scripture, and it does not mean "Don't drink alcohol." He's not saying, "Refrain from beer. My son, farewell." In Greek, this word means "free from illusion, free from the intoxicating influences of sin." It means to have one's wits about them and be rational, but I just like “free from illusion, free from the intoxicating influences of sin.”
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:”
Uzelac Hall encourages listeners to remain sober, according to the definition she offered above, so that they can avoid the traps of the adversary.
The Sunday on Monday Study Group is a Deseret Bookshelf PLUS+ original presented by LDS Living. You can access the full study group discussion through the Bookshelf app. Listen to a segment of this week's episode above or listen to the full Sunday on Monday episode here.
In his talk “Truly Good and Without Guile,” Elder Michael T. Ringwood explores what more Latter-day Saints can learn from Shiblon’s humble example:
Shiblon was truly good and without guile. He was a person who sacrificed his time, talents, and effort to help and lift others because of a love for God and his fellowmen. He is described perfectly by the words of President Spencer W. Kimball: “Great women and men are always more anxious to serve than to have dominion.”