We’ve met him already. His name appears on the cover of the book. He inserted a note (after the Book of Omni) to explain why he was choosing specific plates as input for the book. He commented briefly in 3 Nephi and 4 Nephi on what was happening in the part of the story he was relating at that time. He is, of course, Mormon, the Nephite historian who organized, abridged, and edited approximately 1,000 years of Nephite history such that it could be presented in a single book, which is entitled The Book of Mormon.
Part of the history that was published includes the events that occurred during Mormon’s lifetime — in essence, Mormon’s own personal story. This segment is also called The Book of Mormon. OK, maybe it’s a little confusing to have The Book of Mormon in The Book of Mormon, but this happens to be the only book title that is actually mentioned in the text, so it was not really an option to call it anything else:
“And now I, Mormon, make a record of the things which I have both seen and heard, and call it the Book of Mormon.” (Mormon 1:1)
Mormon’s story begins where 4 Nephi ends — the sacred records have just been hidden by the record-keeper, Ammaron, due to the wickedness of all the people at that time. Knowing he won’t live forever, Ammaron needs someone younger to share this information with, so he chooses Mormon — even though he’s only 10 years old at the time! He tells Mormon where the records are hidden and instructs him to retrieve them when he’s an adult (about 24 years old) and then be responsible for them going forward.
Why would anyone choose a 10-year-old boy for such a responsibility? When Ammaron gives him the assignment, he comments, “I perceive that thou art a sober child, and art quick to observe” (verse 2).
The key word here is “sober.” In this context, it doesn’t mean a lack of drunkenness. Rather, a sober person is someone who is generally serious, solemn, focused, etc. It’s someone who doesn’t take things light-heartedly and is not easily distracted — especially when the matter is something to be taken seriously.
In general, soberness is a personality trait. It’s not something where you would typically say, “From now on, I’m going to be a sober person.” You may not even want to be. To be frank, someone who is described as sober is usually not that much fun to be around — they’re always so serious. But if you want something to get done, who better to turn to than someone who will take it seriously and remain focused on the job?
Rather than trying to change our personality types, perhaps we can just try to be more sober-minded when the situation calls for it. Each of the items listed below is something that some people take light-heartedly but is really something to take seriously:
- Marriage: For some, a spouse is someone to be criticized, insulted, or taken for granted. Unhappy? Just get a divorce; it’s no big deal. Instead, let’s take our marriages seriously, valuing the person and relationship that God has provided for us. Even as imperfections become apparent, your spouse should be the person you can’t live without — and who can’t live without you.
- Church Membership: Sadly, some people treat their church membership as they would a membership in any club or organization — I’ll stay in as long as I’m having a good time and then drop out when it’s not working for me anymore. Instead, let’s be serious about our church membership, staying as active as possible in church activities and considering the church as something we’ll be part of for the rest of our lives (which is what we promised at the water’s edge when we were baptized).
- Sharing Christ with Others: It’s very easy to minimize this, as there are many obvious challenges to being successful at this. However, if we seriously consider that each missed opportunity to share the Lord may result in someone missing out on salvation for eternity, then we will hopefully realize that this is something to take seriously.
- Salvation: People will sometimes debate over how much you can get away with and still receive salvation. While it’s true that Christ purchased our salvation and the Lord forgives our sins, let’s still do our best to serve the Lord and keep His commandments to the best of our ability. Our eternal home is something to take very seriously, so let’s make sure we are staying on the path that leads to eternal life with God.
There are many things in life that don’t need to be taken seriously. When it comes to those things, we can feel free to goof around if we want to as it’s really no big deal how those things turn out. However, for the items on the list above — and perhaps others you might add to the list — let’s be sober-minded about the outcome of these, as each is really something to take seriously.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.