Here’s the scene: You’re at church on Sunday, and you’ve invited several brothers and sisters to come to your house after church. When you arrive home, you’re met with quite a sight — your teenage son and several of his friends have taken over your house! They’ve made quite a mess of things and are currently passed out on sofas, chairs, and the floor. What do you do?
It probably goes something like this: WAKE UP EVERYBODY!! Clean this room right now! And to your son — Don’t ever do this again!
Now, suppose the house is your heart, and the random teenagers are the sinful thoughts or feelings that make it difficult to fully focus on serving God. Perhaps we would say something like this:
“Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.” (2 Nephi 4:28)
If you’re familiar with the hymn “Awake My Soul” (Saints Favorites No. 8), this verse will sound familiar to you. It is a quote from Nephi that occurs shortly after the death of his father Lehi in which Nephi is, in essence, preaching to himself.
What is the sin that Nephi is berating himself for? Earlier in the chapter, we find out that Nephi admonished his brothers regarding the things of God, and they became angry with him. Apparently, Nephi became angry with them in return, and that’s why he’s upset with himself.
Our first thought when reading this might be — what’s the big deal? Many of us are angry with people on a regular basis, from the girl who takes too long to prepare our gourmet coffee to the guy who cuts us off on the highway to even our family/friends/fellow church members who say or do things that get under our skin. What’s wrong with a little anger? Laman and Lemuel certainly deserved it, and perhaps some of the bothersome people in our lives deserve it, too.
Well, it’s not about the other people and what they deserve. It’s about us and how carrying these types of feelings disturbs our spirit and limits our usefulness to God. Just as the home in the example at the beginning of this article was rendered less useful because an opposing force came in and occupied a portion of it, so it is with our heart if we allow the opposition to occupy any portion of it.
Nephi knew he had a calling to serve God in a great way, so he didn’t want to handicap himself by giving away even a small portion of his heart to the enemy. How about us? Do we want to serve God in a great way or in a mediocre way?
Let’s not be asleep at the wheel and allow the enemy to gain even little strongholds in our heart. Be awakened to the tactics of the enemy, and dedicate your entire heart to the things of God. Let Him use you in a great way!
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.
Good stuff here Jerry. Lord speak to my heart!
I have been struggling with this myself. For example I may vent to a co-worker my frustrations and then feel bad later. The enemy of my soul definitely knows my weaknesses. It is like my reflexes. The right spot is hit and I react immediately. Definitely something I need to work on. Great blog!!