You Should Know Better (Alma 9)
If you were the older sibling growing up — as I was — you may have experienced occasions when you and your younger sibling(s) did something that got you in trouble with your parents. Even though you all participated in the same escapade, you as the oldest got in the most trouble. In justification of this unfair treatment, your parents would say, "You're older — you should know better."
Perhaps the Nephites in Ammonihah were feeling like the older sibling in Alma 9 as Alma, while urging them to repentance for their wicked ways, reinforces the point by telling them, "it shall be more tolerable for [the Lamanites] in the day of judgment than for you, if ye remain in your sins, yea, and even more tolerable for them in this life than for you, except ye repent" (Alma 9:15).
If you're a Nephite hearing this, you're probably thinking, "Wait a minute, why should the Lamanites get away with a lesser punishment if we're all doing basically the same things?" Alma gives you the answer: "for it is because of the traditions of their fathers that caused them to remain in their state of ignorance; therefore the Lord will be merciful unto them" (Alma 9:16). In other words, you should know better.
Alma further points out that the Nephites have:
- Received significant knowledge of the things of God — "that which has been, and which is, and which is to come" (verse 20)
- Witnessed many manifestations and spiritual gifts of God — visitation of angels, revelation, prophecy, tongues, etc. (verse 21)
- Experienced many answered prayers and miracles — healings, preservation from harm, natural prosperity, etc. (verse 22)
Yes, they definitely should know better!
How about us as servants of God today?
- We have received significant knowledge of the things of God through the Word of God that is available to all of us.
- We have witnessed many manifestations and spiritual gifts of God in our various Church gatherings — God has even used some of us to bring these forward.
- We have experienced many answered prayers and miracles — our testimonies confirm this.
After experiencing all of the above, if we find ourselves not serving God at any point in our lives, can we claim ignorance? No, we should know better.
It is our understanding that people who are truly ignorant of God's expectations will not be held accountable for knowledge they don't possess. We don't know exactly how that will work, and it's not really our concern how God judges those people. Even though we would've liked to tell our parents how to punish our younger siblings when they misbehaved, it was ultimately up to our parents to decide what was appropriate based on the knowledge level of their younger children.
Just as the older siblings in a family are held to a higher standard, likewise we are held to a higher standard as servants of God. We need to do our best to live up to this. We have been called by God, blessed by God, and taught by God, so we are in a very privileged position. If we don't serve the Lord, then who else can be expected to? As the child who has experienced more and has been taught more, you can't use ignorance as an excuse — you should know better.
P.S. The Gospel Blog staff wishes you a Happy Valentine's Day!
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.