This week I studied Ether 11-15 for my Come, Follow Me lessons. Ether 11, 13-15 are all about the final wars and destruction of the Jaredites, but Ether 12 contains great doctrines and principles. The principle that I will discuss tonight is humility.
It seems that Moroni took a break while summarizing the chapters about the wars and destructions and wrote about faith, hope, and charity. While writing about those three principles, he dropped some information about humility. Moroni shared his concerns about his writing ability with the Lord in Ether 12:23-25.
23 Lord, the Gentiles will mock at these things, because of our weakness in writing; for Lord thou hast made us mighty in word by faith, but thou hast not made us mighty in writing; for thou hast made all this people that they could speak much, because of the Holy Ghost which thou hast given them.
24 And thou hast made us that we could write but little, because of the awkwardness of our hands. Behold, thou hast not made us mighty in writing like unto the brother of Jared, for thou madest him that the things which he wrote were mighty even as thou art, unto the overpowering of man to read them.
25 Thou hast also made our words powerful and great, even that we cannot write them; wherefore, when we write we behold our weakness, and stumble because of the placing of our words; and I fear lest the Gentiles shall mock at our words.
Moroni had great strengths and attributes, but he felt inadequate when he compared his writing to that of the brother of Jared. I believe that Moroni recognized his weakness and worried that people in the latter days would condemn his record because of his writing ability. I have read Moroni’s writing, and I find his words to be beautifully written. Was he worried about his penmanship or his writing ability? We do not know, but we know what the Lord answered in Ether 12:26-29.
26 And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me, saying: Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness;
27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
28 Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness, and I will show unto them that faith, hope, and charity bringeth unto me – the fountain of all righteousness.
29 And I, Moroni, having heard these words, was comforted….
The Lord packed a lot of information in His answer. He seemed to acknowledge
Moroni’s weakness before assuring that the Gentiles would not use it against him. The Lord then explained that He gives us our weaknesses to keep us humble. It may be difficult for any of us to stay humble if we had no weaknesses. The opposite of humility is pride, and we know that pride is not a good thing.
In addition to keeping us humble by giving us weaknesses, the Lord promised that He would turn our weaknesses into strengths if we stay humble and exercise faith in Him. Elder Neal A. Maxwell had some additional insight into these verses. “When we read I the scriptures of man’s ‘weakness,’ this term includes the … weakness inherent in the general human condition in which the flesh has an incessant impact upon the spirit (see Ether 12:28-29). Weakness likewise includes, however, our specific, individual weaknesses, which we are expected to overcome (see Doctrine and Covenants 66:3; Jacob 4:7)” (Lord, Increase Our Faith , 84).
We can conclude from Elder Maxwell’s words that some of our weaknesses are just part of being human, while others are personal weaknesses. President Henry B. Eyring gave additional insights into these verses. “Moroni said that when he ‘heard these words,’ he ‘was comforted’ (Ether 12:29). They can be a comfort to all of us. Those who do not see their weaknesses do not progress. Your awareness of your weakness is a blessing as it helps you remain humble and keeps you turning to the Savior. The Spirit not only comforts you, but He is also the agent by which the Atonement works a change in your very nature. Then weak things become strong” (“My Peace I Leave with You,” Ensign, May 2017, 16).
We know that other prophets had weaknesses also. Enoch wondered why the Lord would call him as a prophet because he felt that he was too young – at age 65. Moses had a weakness with speaking, so the Lord made Aaron his spokesman. If we knew particulars about all the prophets, we would probably learn that all of them had a weakness or two. Even though they are prophets, they are also human.
When we look at ourselves and see our weaknesses, we should remember that God gave them to us to keep us humble. However, He expects us to exercise faith in Jesus Christ and humbly ask for help in overcoming our weaknesses.
Moroni had not quite learned the lesson because he asked the Lord to give grace to the Gentiles “that they might have charity” (Ether 12:36). The Lord assured Moroni that he did not have to worry about the Gentiles in verse 37.
37 And it came to pass that the Lord said unto me: If they have not charity it mattereth not unto thee, thou hast been faithful; wherefore, thy garments shall be made clean. And because thou hast seen thy weakness thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father.
These verses clearly tell us that we have weaknesses to keep us humble, but we are supposed to work at overcoming our weaknesses. However, we do not need to concern ourselves with how other people see our weaknesses. If we are faithful, we can be assured that the Lord will give us what we deserve.