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Member Beliefs: Wealth and Humility

BYU (Brigham Young University) is operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often mistakenly called the “Mormon Church.”  As part of their undergraduate coursework, BYU students take multiple semesters of spiritually uplifting, stimulating religion classes.
In this series (see below), students enrolled in scripture study classes have shared their thoughts, insights, and reflections on the Book of Mormon in the form of letters to someone they know. We invite you to take a look at their epiphanies and discoveries as they delve into the scriptures.
In publishing these, we fulfill their desire to speak to all of us of the relevance, power and beauty of the Book of Mormon, a second witness of Jesus Christ and complement to the Bible. The Book of Mormon includes the religious history of a group of Israelites who settled in ancient America.  (The names they use are those of prophets who taught the Book of Mormon peoples to look forward to the coming of Christ—Nephi, Lehi, Alma, Helaman, and other unfamiliar names.  We hope those names will become more familiar to you as you read their inspiring words and feel the relevance and divinity of their messages through these letters.)
Let us know if you’d like to receive your own digital copy of the Book of Mormon, and/or if these messages encourage and assist you spiritually as well.

Wealth and Humility
A Blog Post

This week in my scripture study, I was blessed with an answer to a problem that’s bothered me for a long time. It is amazing that after reading a simple verse in two seconds, you can completely change your ideas that you may have been fostering for years about an issue. I love that. The scipture that I found was in Alma 62. The people of Nephi have been blessed with wealth and prosperity after accepting the words of the prophets and missionaries. And then in verse 49 it reads:

“But notwithstanding their riches, or their strength, or their prosperity, they were not lifted up in the pride of their eyes, nor were they slow to remember the Lord their God, but they did humble themselves exceedingly.”

I have always worried about this. We read about so many instances in the scriptures where the rich and prosperous are the bad guys. King Noah, Laban, the Pharisees, etc. Generally, most scriptures about wealth say that it leads to pride and a lack of the Spirit. But what I realized through this scripture is that being wealthy, whether in money or talents or just general success, can go two ways. It’s all about how you react to it and how it is prioritized in your life.
Mom and Dad have had an extremely successful career. It always troubled me though that a majority of the wealthy in the scriptures were sinners. This led me to have questions such as: Is it bad to have a nice house or go on big trips when that money could go somewhere else? Is it evil to spend money on luxury? Is being prosperous a bad thing? I’m not kidding, these questions haunted me throughout my teenage years. I remember reading a talk in Sunday School about not setting your heart on riches. I squirmed in my seat and felt like a bad person. I thought about my house and the family trips we’d been on and wondered if it was bad that I lived this way.
Also, with the recent election, this same issue resurfaced with Mitt Romney. He has had incredible success with his business, and again I was concerned about just how wealthy he was.
But this scripture has finally put to rest my fears. And it also explains my parents exactly. In verse 50 it says that they “did remember the great things that the Lord had done for them”. There are ways to be prosperous and not fall into sin. Just because the Pride Cycle exists doesn’t mean that it is totally inevitable.
I’m reminded of a verse in Jacob, Chapter 2:19:

“And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good–to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted”.

This doesn’t have to apply just to financial circumstances either. You can be wealthy in friends and popularity, or intelligence, or talents, or beauty. Just because you possess something that has often led to corruption and pride, it doesn’t necessarily have to always end up that way. You can use your gifts to help others and build the kingdom of God.

Additional Resources:

Mormons and Christ

I Believe: Expressions of Faith

Meet with Mormon missionaries

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