Wednesday, March 19, 2014

As Soon As Converted...

As soon as his people covenanted with God to receive their redemption through the atonement of Christ, King Benjamin's attention turns to the needs of the poor. He taught those who were converted to think of the needs of others.

This is what James would call "pure religion" (see James 1: 27; see also James 2: 14-18) because it changes the world, here and now. Instead of suffering, the unfortunate are ministered to by others because their religion requires it of them. King Benjamin's instruction to those who covenanted with God to apply the atonement on their behalf was: "ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of you succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish." (Mosiah 4: 16.)

There was no room for judging the needy. There was only the obligation to give. As he counseled: "Perhaps thou shalt say: the man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor  impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just--" (Mosiah 4: 17.) Maybe the beggars in your life deserve to suffer. Maybe it is their fault. Maybe they shouldn't have used drugs, or behaved so poorly they lost their jobs, or run away from home and family who would have cared for them if they hadn't strayed, or any number of other circumstances to conclude "their punishments are just." Maybe they are all at fault. Maybe they do deserve your condemnation, not your help. Maybe you are facilitating their wickedness. Maybe you are enabling their irresponsibility. Yes, maybe you shouldn't help, after all...

King Benjamin anticipates this and warns you: "But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this  the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perish forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God." (Mosiah 4: 18.) If you judge the beggar this way, even if you are right about their "punishments" being "just," then you have need to repent. You have no right to do this. You will not be forgiven by God, and cannot enter His kingdom. You are to help the beggar. That is all.

"For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?" (Mosiah 4: 19.) You occupy the same relationship to God as the beggar occupies to you. If you have the ability to help, then you must. You only have what you possess in this life as a result of God's mercy and kindness to you. Therefore, even if you think you "deserve" what you own because you worked hard for it, you are nevertheless a beggar whose very existence is drawing upon God's power to live, and move and have your being. (Mosiah 2: 21.)

King Benjamin warned us: "if ye judge the man who putteth up his  petition to you... and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God. ...I say unto you, wo be unto that man, for his substance shall perish with him." (Mosiah 4: 22-23.)

This has been in our Book of Mormon since 1830. But we hear the only way we are to help the poor should be through Fast Offerings, institutionalizing our charity. I doubt that would satisfy King Benjamin. I doubt there will be collective salvation. I'm certain there is no such thing as group-charity sufficient to qualify you to avoid individual condemnation for refusing the beggar who asks you individually to help.

Remember this is the subject addressed by King Benjamin to those who have entered into a covenant with God to obtain a remission of their sins.