Alma 4 – Blessings = righteous?

So, take a look at this. In the church we often talk about the righteous being blessed, which is true, but then that also leads to the problematic idea that if someone is down-and-out it must be their fault. I think I found that same pattern happening in the book of Alma, chapters 3 and 4:

Alma 3:19 Now I would that ye should see that they brought upon themselves the curse; and even so doth every man that is cursed bring upon himself his own condemnation.

He is talking about curses but the logic could still be misapplied (especially if we take it completely out of context and work to try to apply it to our modern situation). Did they do the same?

Alma 4:3: And so great were their afflictions that every soul had cause to mourn; and they believed that it was the judgments of God sent upon them because of their wickedness and their abominations; therefore they were awakened to a remembrance of their duty.

Again, this is true and we’re glad they thought this way and repented. But, the question persists: could this be misapplied?

Alma 4:6: “the people of the church began to wax proud, because of their exceeding riches

Alma 4:8 “For they saw and beheld with great sorrow that the people of the church began to be lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and to set their hearts upon riches and upon the vain things of the world, that they began to be scornful, one towards another, and they began to persecute those that did not believe according to their own will and pleasure.”

Alma 4:12 “Yea, he saw great inequality among the people, some lifting themselves up with their pride, despising others, turning their backs upon the needy and the naked and those who were hungry, and those who were athirst, and those who were sick and afflicted.”

Because, perhaps, they thought it was their own fault that they didn’t believe or that they were poor.

And this sparks his ministry among the people, beginning in chapter 5 in Zarahemla (in fact, see Alma 5:53-55).


4 responses to “Alma 4 – Blessings = righteous?

  • Gary

    I think part of the difficulty is we tend to connect being “down-and-out” with “cursed”, when “cursed” often (always?) refers to a separation from God or his church rather than an economic or physical situation. In that light, someone can be poor but blessed, while another is rich but spirtually cursed. Or maybe that’s too simple? Oh well, I like simple. 🙂

    • Gary

      Don’t you love it when you talk about something, and then find it in the next chapter you were going to read next anyway? Helaman 12:20-21.

    • Karen

      No, I totally agree. I think we shouldn’t connect it, but I think people unfortunately do. What I saw here a people going through a sequence that led to the misunderstanding. It’s all based in pride of course; even if they had brought it upon themselves, they need help, not persecution!!

      Unfortunately, they saw this as a chance to feel superior. And I think you are very right: cursed and afflicted are NOT the same thing. God can use afflictions to wake someone up, but they can also come as just part of this mortal world, or as the result of someone else’s wickedness, or a test, or whatever else. It’s not a one-to-one correspondence.

      It reminds me of what King Benjamin tells the people: “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—”

  • Alma 5 « WHAT? I'm thinking about

    […] Wow, I guess I was more right than I thought when I said in my post on Alma 4 that it was their pride that caused Alma’s ministry among the people. From Alma 4: […]

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