Altruism in The Book of Mormon

Confucius was a great scholar and politician who taught the basic principles that later became the foundation of what modern philosophy refers to as Confucianism.

Similar to Confucius, King Benjamin laid the religious, political and social framework for Nephite society. From his father, Mosiah , Benjamin learned and applied all the principles he observed from his youth. He in turn, committed those principles to his son, Mosiah II.

Those guiding principles became laws--specifically the law of community responsibility that guided the Nephite and possibly other nations for generations.

And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your 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),

said King Benjamin to his subjects as he spoke to them from his tower at the temple in the city of Zarahemla. He sent his son Mosiah to call all the people together for a great conference where he intended to deliver his final instructions to the people of Nephi and confer the Kingdom upon Mosiah before his death.

One of the many topics upon which he touched was that of altruism. Having worked his entire life for his own support and successfully being self-sufficient all that time, King Benjamin turned his attention to those of his people who were not.

He loved his people. When he spoke, he could imagine the aid that he would provide personally to any of his brethren who stood in need whatever their circumstance.

His position of influence with his people consisted of the power of his office as King, his office as High priest and prophet and his personal example to all of his citizens. The purpose of this article is not to make Benjamin appear to be more than a flawed man. Though he was flawed, he lived the principles that he taught with the principle of community being one of many ideas he shared.

Elder Russell M. Nelson

Source

Elder Russell M. Nelson spoke of the responsibility of and fraternity of all mankind to each other in his sermon during the October 2013 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Said he

As children of God, we should love Him with all our heart and soul, even more than we love our earthly parents. We should love our neighbors as brothers and sisters. No other commandments are greater than these. And we should ever revere the worth of human life, through each of its many stages.2

Not that this information is new--the information that all humanity is family and should treat each other as such, but it is not well followed within the Lord's church or the world at large. This is definitely an area of opportunity all Christianity can work toward achieving to prepare the world for Jesus Christ's return.

God expects His children to love their neighbors as siblings and Him more than earthly parents! If the people of God love each other as such, they would treat each other with the love and the respect each other deserves. Christians, true followers of Christ are to make sure that their family is provided for in all things.

Lorenzo Snow

Source

We are children of the same Heavenly Father, and we have been sent into the world to do good to one another.

President Lorenzo Snow of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is quoted teaching:

We are of the same Father in the celestial worlds. … If we knew each other as we should, … our sympathies would be excited more than they are at the present time, and there would be a desire on the part of every individual to study in their own minds how they might do their brethren good, how they might alleviate their sorrows and build them up in truth, how [they might] remove the darkness from their minds. If we understand each other and the real relationship which we hold to each other, we should feel different from what we do; but this knowledge can be obtained only as we obtain the Spirit of life, and as we are desirous of building each other up in righteousness.1

What a great form of degrading humanity with the creation of a class of people who are beholden to another for their substance and welfare.

The purpose of quoting the modern witnesses above is to show how consistently the message for succoring the poor remains from then to the present.

And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another (Mosiah 4:21)

King Benjamin wanted to impress upon his people the importance of succoring the poor while they were thus feeling the spirit of God. The people had just experienced a pentecostal moment in their repentance process as their king entreated them on behalf of the poor.

If a person has it to give, King Benjamin teaches, then that man or woman must give it. Benjamin does not mince words as he reminds his followers that all are beggars before God whether they admit it or not. He somberly informs those in his hearing of the consequences of not helping the poor.

The rich will die with their wealth. What then of the wealth? Once the body ceases to function, there is no use for money and substance of a worldly manner. All that is left are the treasures a person has stored of a spiritual nature.

Benjamin impressed upon the minds of his followers the need to provide for all people in need. It is arguable that his form of providing included instruction of the poor and needy to become self-reliant.

What a great form of degrading humanity with the creation of a class of people who are beholden to another for their substance and welfare. Succoring by definition seems that it includes helping to remedy the situation that caused the need in the first place.

Benjamin did not say that individuals HAD to give to every person that asked. For example, those who throw coins at beggars on the street who return each day for that same dependency handout. Those people lull themselves into thinking they are keeping community; it is not so!

"...ye Ought to Impart‍ of the Substance That Ye Have..."

Not only did Benjamin want to help his listeners feel the spirit of his message of salvation. He wanted them to know from whence their blessing came. He taught that all people get their substance through the indirect ministrations of God Himself. At the very least, God created the molecular bonds which make the substances humankind uses.

King Benjamin reasons,

And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart‍ of the substance that ye have one to another. (Mosiah 4: 21).

How much greater a desire should humanity towards altruism seeing that God has provided all things! Are not all dependent on the grace of God in his kindness to provide the sphere called earth with an atmosphere surrounding it that supports human life?

Speaking directly to his people, Benjamin appeals to the fact that they had just asked of God things that were right, which he had given to them, forgiveness.

What of those that petition Believers?

...if ye judge‍ the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation‍ for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God... (Mosiah 4:24)

Benjamin did not say that individuals HAD to give to every person that asked. For example, those who throw coins at beggars on the street who return each day for that same dependency handout. Those people lull themselves into thinking they are keeping community; it is not so!

Benjamin taught that if a person goes to the aid of another in need of help so that he or she may help themselves to survive and is turned away and judged because of his or her situation then a just judgement of the person will come.

Did that person with substance get help when he or she sought the Lord, though all who did seek after Him were not worthy of that help? The point of the entire philosophy is to give to all freely that are in need as God gives.

God gives to those who seek help.

God blesses some with substance because of their ability to manage it--expecting that those with whom he has trusted substance to share freely. He knew that not all would have the skills to manage their substance the same, so He gives more to some than others. He gives to all, but only those who manage what they have prosper because of the principles of economics, which blesses all who use those principles regardless of the morality of the person--evil or not.

God rewards all people for obeying each command. Each command comes with a commiserate blessing in store. As people of the earth of all faiths and lack of faiths obey a commandment, they receive the promised blessing. With the same token, any commandment that a person ignores or violates comes with its own blessing!

What is Your View?

Have your been blessed by giving to others?

  • YES
  • NO
See results without voting

© 2014 Rodric Johnson

More by this Author


No comments yet.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working