Sunday, April 18, 2010

Strength in Weakness

I was reading up about "firmness" in the Book of Mormon yesterday on our way to the Palmyra Temple. I noticed the people of Ammon, who became known for the firmness in the faith of Christ. Mormon gives us as the symbol of that firmness their burying their weapons of war. Immediately after the king encourages them to do so, in fact, is when Mormon tells us of their firmness in keeping their commitments.

It struck me that if the people of Ammon had God-like firmness, there really would have been no need to bury their weapons. No matter what, they wouldn't use them, so why go to the trouble?

Instead, they recognized that their firmness was not perfect. The king's speech is entirely about how grateful they are that God has forgiven them and the terrible consequences if they should stain their weapons with blood again. So as a commitment device, they bury them, lest they become tempted to take up their weapons again, lest in seeing their families and friends being slaughtered by the marauders who will hit them on the very next page, they break their oath and take up the weapons - even in self-defense. To make sure that weakness wouldn't overtake them, they buried their weapons.

They became firm because they acknowledged their weakness and took steps to neutralize it. Just as courage is not the absence of fear, strength is not the absence of weakness. They were strong, not because there was no weakness, but because they responded to their weakness in a way that made them strong.

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