No Excuses (1 Nephi 4)
Nephi and his brothers had tried multiple ways to obtain the brass plates from Laban. They tried asking for them, and they tried trading their gold and silver for them. Both attempts failed miserably and ended up with Laban keeping all of their possessions and still not giving up the plates. After “trying their best,” it wouldn’t have been unreasonable for the brothers to return to their father and explain why they couldn’t obtain the plates. They certainly had a valid excuse. Laban had 50 armed men at his command — how could four brothers go up against that?
However, Nephi knew there was no way he was returning to his father without the brass plates, especially after stating in chapter 3: “the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” Rather than believing the lie that he had no choice, Nephi chose to trust in God and wound up obtaining the plates on the third attempt.
Although we may not want to think of it this way, excuses are lies we tell ourselves to avoid facing the fact that we are choosing the outcome. In the account above, the part about Laban having 50 armed men was true, but the part about the brothers having no choice at that point was not true. If they would have departed without the plates, it would have been fully their choice to do so.
Here are some oft-used excuses regarding our service to God:
- I can’t afford to donate to The Church.
- My boss makes me work on Sundays.
- I don’t have time to visit the sick, widowed, etc.
- There’s nothing I can do to help The Church.
Someone employing all of the above excuses is someone who doesn’t attend church, doesn’t donate, and doesn’t do anything for The Church — and believes there is nothing they can do about it!
Recognizing that the “I can’t” part of excuses is generally untrue, we can reword all of the above statements to be more accurate as follows:
- I choose to spend all of my money on other things, leaving none for The Church.
- My job is more important to me than attending church on Sunday.
- The way I choose to spend my time leaves no time for visiting.
- I choose to use my time/energy/creativity for pursuits/causes/activities other than The Church.
The above are not necessarily criticisms. In some cases, the choices may be the right choices for us. The important thing is to recognize that they are our choices. This realization is very liberating and is the first step toward considering other choices that may well lead to different outcomes.
When confronted with a difficult choice, Nephi chose to trust in God. We can do the same!
Note: This article is part of a series of scriptural lessons on 1 Nephi.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.