The Lord’s law of prospering is basically this: Those whom the Lord leads to the land of promise will prosper if they keep His commandments. If they do not keep the commandments, they will be cut off from His presence and swept off the land when their iniquity is full. This law is taught plainly in the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, and it is taught over and over again from the beginning of the book to the end of it. “Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land; but inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence” (2 Nephi 1:20).
Just prior his death, Father Lehi, a great ancient American prophet, spoke to his entire family. He prefaced his remarks with this statement: “We have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord.
“Wherefore, I, Lehi prophesy according to the workings of the Spirit which is in me, that there shall none come into his land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord.
“Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever” (2 Nephi 1:5-7).
The scriptures are rich with examples of how the Lord is willing to give his people the riches of the earth when they do His will. He requires His people to demonstrate their willingness to use their abundant blessing with prudence, humility, charity, and gratitude. When His people keep His commandments, God blesses them in many ways and often with material prosperity; however, the law of prospering is more than physical well-being or material things.
Fourth Nephi describes the people of Nephi following the visit of the Savior, even Jesus Christ, to the American continent. The people repented of their sins; they were baptized and then received the Holy Ghost. All the people in the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, were “converted unto the Lord” and “there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.
“And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.
“And it came to pass that the thirty and seventh year passed away also, and there still continued to be peace in the land” (4 Nephi 1:2-4).
The Lord prospered the people “exceedingly” all through the land. They built great cities. They became “strong and did multiply exceedingly” and became “delightsome.” They were married and given in marriage; they were content with their lives.
“And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.
“And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.
“There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of –ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God” (4 Nephi15-17; emphasis added).
I was studying these scriptures at the same time the Democrats and the Republicans were negotiating the reopening of the federal government. I could not help but compare the two situations. I mentioned to a friend that the U.S. Constitution is made for a “moral and religious” people (John Adams) and does not work with evil people, and he became indignant that I would call anyone evil simply because we disagree politically. I did not have the opportunity to explain that I was not speaking of any person in particular but our nation as a whole. There is evil in our nation in the form of secret combinations, and this evil is causing great “contention,” “envyings,” “lyings,” “strifes,” and “tumults” – even “whoredoms” and “murders.”
How can we expect to “prosper” as a nation when we have so much evil among us? I appreciate those politicians who continue to speak about issues and refuse to call their opponents names, but there is far too much contention and division. It is obvious from the above scriptures that our nation is doing things wrong. We are doing the right thing when we take care of the poor and needy among us, but we could extinguish poverty completely if we would turn to Jesus Christ.
Elder Dean A. Larson of the Presidency of the Quorum of the Seventy spoke about the law of prospering to the priesthood brethren. “It is one thing to look back upon the events of history. It is another to regard our own time. We have the Lord’s assurance that he will bless and prosper his people if they will keep his commandments and remember to look to him as the source of their blessings.
“On the other hand, we must not forget that these blessings are conditional. As King Limhi warned his people, `For behold, the Lord hath said: I will not succor my people in the day of their transgression; but I will hedge up their ways that they prosper not; and their doings shall be as a stumbling block before them (Mosiah 7:29). …
“As bearers of the priesthood to whom the Lord has entrusted the leadership for his work, we must look carefully at our own lives. And we must assess honestly the level of faith and obedience of our people. Too many of the indicators are not encouraging. Only a small percentage of the Church members worldwide are tithe payers today. For many who live in conditions of material poverty, there may be no other way to escape their impoverishment than to give obedience to this law. As I visit among the stakes of the Church, I find it is not uncommon to discover that fewer than 50 percent of the households are contributing to the fast offerings of the Church, and the trends are not improving.
“We have reached a point where more of our adult men are becoming prospective elders than are receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood. About half of the endowed members of the Church hold current temple recommends. Reports of other violations of the Lord’s law are a source of concern.
“These indicators may seem to carry a direful tone, but as Enos declared in the Book of Mormon, sometimes it is necessary to resort to `exceedingly great plainness of speech’ (Enos 1:23). As the world continues to ripen in iniquity, our lives of necessity must become increasingly different from the world and its standard. It will be a great challenge for us. We must be better than we have ever been before. As we succeed, we have the sure promise of the Lord that he will prosper us in every way necessary for our well-being. That is my faith and my testimony. But it is a conditional promise. May we qualify for its fulfillment in our lives and in our time….”