When I read this scripture the following question came to my mind. Why did the people of Nephi live after the manner of happiness? I decided to carefully review chapter five, and I found clear reasons why they were happy.
2 Nephi 5:10: “And we did observe to keep the judgments, and the statutes, and the commandments of the Lord in all things, according to the law of Moses.”
They lived after the manner of happiness because they were obedient to the Lord’s commandments in all things, repenting of their sins. It’s interesting to think that the Lord is aware of our progress, and of how we are doing with keeping the commandments.
On one occasion a woman was studying the Bible, and while reading the third chapter of Malachi, she found an important phrase in the third verse that said: “…and [he shall] purge them as gold and silver.”
This woman decided to visit a silversmith. She went, and without telling the reason for her visit, asked the silversmith to explain to her the process of refining and purifying the silver.
After the silversmith explained the process, she asked, “Sir, do you sit here while the refining process is going on?”
“Oh, ma’am,” answered the silversmith, “I have to sit here with my eyes constantly fixed on the fire because if the necessary time for the refining process goes over even slightly, the silver will be damaged.”
The woman immediately saw the lesson and the counsel in the expression “he shall purge them as gold and silver.”
God sees fit to put His children in the fire, while being constantly attentive to His work of purification and refinement. His wisdom and love work together in the best way possible for us. Our trials are not random, and He will not leave us to be tested beyond what we can handle.
The woman asked one final question. “How do you know what the process is complete?”
“Well, it’s very simple. When I can see my own image in the silver, the refining process is done.”
The Lord wants to see the result of the refining process reflected in our countenance.
We need to remember all the commandments and strive to pay attention to the ones that are the hardest for us to live. The Lord will be by our side, helping us in our difficulties and weaknesses, and if we show a pure and sincere desire, and do things with purpose, He will make weak things become strong for us. 1
2 Nephi 5:11: “And the Lord was with us; and we did prosper exceedingly; for we did sow seed, and we did reap again in abundance. And we began to raise flocks, and herds, and animals of every kind.”
They lived after the manner of happiness because they worked to meet their daily needs, and the Lord blessed them. What a tragedy it is when we don’t have a job that allows us to be self-reliant. I pray this never happens to us because of our own negligence.
2 Nephi 5:12: “And I, Nephi, had also brought the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass; and also the ball, or compass, which was prepared for my father by the hand of the Lord, according to that which is written.”
They lived after the manner of happiness because they studied the scriptures. They didn’t have as many as we do now. They, and those who followed them, left us a very special book, The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. The Church is now printing a Book of Mormon every seven seconds, based on 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. We will know what to do as we read the scriptures. We will learn from the experiences of others and not make the same mistakes.
2 Nephi 5:13: “And it came to pass that we began to prosper exceedingly, and to multiply in the land.”
They lived after the manner of happiness because they formed families and had children. What a great privilege it is to raise our children! Spirits our Heavenly Father sent to us so we can help them continue with their eternal progress. Let us be good examples, being good parents and having unity in our marriage. We are so blessed to have living prophets who clearly show us the right path so that as parents we won’t fail in fulfilling our responsibilities. Let us be teachable and always follow His teachings.
I want to give you some counsel regarding children with a poem written by Rudyard Kipling. 2
To My Son
If you want to love me, you can go ahead,
Your love is gold that I never refuse.
But I must tell you, that you don't owe me.
I am now the father and it is my duty.
Never in my struggle to see you happy,
Have I written percentage signs.
Now, my little one, I should advise you,
My traveling agent will come to collect.
It will be your son, a drop of your blood;
He will present a bill of a million cares.
And then my son, like an honest man.
To your own son, you shall pay the debt.
2 Nephi 5:15: “And I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance.”
They lived after the manner of happiness because they developed their talents. Our loving Heavenly Father has given each one of us talents and abilities. Use them to give service in the Lord’s work, for the benefit of our families, and for our own personal benefit.
2 Nephi 5:16: “And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon…and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine.”
Amazing work is done in the Lord’s temples. There are so many miracles that come as a result of the ordinances carried out therein for the living and the dead, confirming to us how important they are.
I want to share a story from a Mormon philosopher and writer, Truman G. Madsen3 (spoken by him in the documentary, “Between Heaven and Earth,” produced by the LDS Church).
“The professor Christen Estendal from the Harvard school of theology was a bishop in the Lutheran Church in Stockholm, Sweden. During one of our visits a press conference was held and he invited several of his friends. He said, “I have three rules for these kinds of discussions among different religious groups.”
“Number one: If you wish to find out what another’s beliefs are, ask them, not those who critique them, nor their enemies.
“Number two: If you’re going to make comparisons, don’t compare the best aspects of your faith with the worst aspects of others’ faiths. Compare the best with the best.
“Number three: Give place for righteous envy. Allow me to give you an example of my righteous envy regarding the Latter-day Saints. When Lutherans lose someone they love, we have a funeral and then go to the cemetery. There ends our concern for those who have passed on. However, the Latter-day Saints take interest in their ancestors, to the degree that they want them to receive the blessings of the Atonement of Christ, so they build temples, and following the instructions of Paul in the first book of Corinthians, do baptisms for their dead. Smiling, he added: ‘I feel righteous envy about that.’”
A while ago while at a special public affairs dinner with my wife and members of various other religious congregations, we started talking to an Evangelical couple. The topic of temples came up. I explained to them that among other things, temples are where marriages for eternity are carried out. They seemed surprised and the wife said, “What a beautiful thing to be able to get married for eternity.”
On 19 August 1906, President Joseph F. Smith4 said:
“Perhaps it won’t be in my days during this generation, but the day will come when even in the most remote corners of the world, temples of God will be built, dedicated especially to the carrying out of sacred ordinances of the gospel, and not for the worship of idols, because this gospel must extend throughout the earth, until the knowledge of God covers the earth as the waters of the seas” (quoted by President Spencer W. Kimball5 in his book Faith Proceeds the Miracle, pages 34 and 35).
We are witnesses of this prophecy. Temples are being built throughout the world in an unprecedented way.
I pray our lives will be focused on temple covenants, renewing them as often as possible, for our own benefit, and for those who are in the Spirit World.
So, why did the people of Nephi live after the manner of happiness?
- They were obedient to the Lord’s commandments.
- They worked to support themselves.
- They studied the scriptures.
- They formed families and had children.
- They developed their talents.
- They built a temple and served there.
I pray the Lord will bless us that we might do the same. I testify that if we do so, we can also live after the manner of happiness.
- Ether 12:27
- Rudyard Kipling: Bombay, 1865-London, 1936, English writer and poet. One of the greatest writers of English literature.
- Truman G. Madsen: (13 December 1926-28 May 2009) philosopher, historian, speaker, writer, and professor.
- Joseph F. Smith: (13 November 1838-19 November 1918) Sixth president and prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- Spencer W. Kimball: (28 March 1895-5 November 1985) Twelfth president and prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.