Strengths Ether 12: 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 … if they humble themselves before me… I make weak things become strong unto them. Question: Can the opposite also be true- can our strengths become weaknesses?
Elder Oaks- List of 18 Strengths to Weaknesses Gospel Hobbies Misapplication of Spiritual Gifts A Desire to Know All A Desire to Be Led in All Things Honors Can Sometimes Turn to Our Detriment Neglect or Distortion of Family Duties Distorted Faith All-Consuming Patriotism Not Really Following the Prophet A Desire to Sacrifice More Than Is Needful Social Consciousness Not Tempered by Other Values An Intense Focus on Goals Popular Teachers and the Potential of Priestcraft Excesses in Giving Accomplishment and Pride Inordinate Church Service Materialistic Self-Reliance Misapplication of Love and Tolerance
Elder Oaks Continues… Those who engage in self-congratulation over a supposed strength have lost the protection of humility and are vulnerable to Satan’s using that strength to produce their downfall. In contrast, if we are humble and teachable, hearkening to the commandments of God, the counsel of his leaders, and the promptings of his Spirit, we can be guided in how to use our spiritual gifts, our accomplishments, and all of our other strengths for righteousness. And we can be guided in how to avoid Satan’s efforts to use our strengths to cause our downfall.
Strange Story of Balaam 1 And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in the plains of Moab on this side Jordan by Jericho. 2 ¶ And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. 5 He sent messengers therefore unto Balaam the son of Beor to Pethor, … 6 Come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people; for they are too mighty for me… 7 And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the rewards of divination in their hand; and they came unto Balaam, and spake unto him the words of Balak. 12 And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed.
Remember Oliver Cowdery D&C 9 3. …it is not expedient that you should translate at this present time. 5. And behold, it is because that you did not continue as you commenced…
It begins 15 ¶ And Balak sent yet again princes, more, and more honourable than they. 16 And they came to Balaam, and said to him, Thus saith Balak the son of Zippor, Let nothing, I pray thee, hinder thee from coming unto me: 17 For I will promote thee unto very great honour, and I will do whatsoever thou sayest unto me:… 18 And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the LORD my God, to do less or more. (BUT!) 19 Now therefore, I pray you, tarry ye also here this night, that I may know what the LORD will say unto me more. Joseph Smith and the 116 pages?
Even Stranger Donkey Story 31 Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face. 32 And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me:
Finally, after offering sacrifices 2 And Balaam lifted up his eyes, and he saw Israel abiding in his tents according to their tribes; and the spirit of God came upon him. 3 And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said: 5 How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel! 12 And Balaam said unto Balak, Spake I not also to thy messengers which thou sentest unto me, saying, 13 If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the commandment of the LORD, to do either good or bad of mine own mind; but what the LORD saith, that will I speak?
Final Fatal Footnote 1 …and the people [of Israel] began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. 2 And they called the people [of Israel] unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods "...these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD." ( Numbers 31:16 )
Bruce R. McConkie What a story this is! Here is a prophet of God who is firmly committed to declare only what the Lord of heaven directs. There does not seem to be the slightest doubt in his mind about the course he should pursue. He represents the Lord, and neither a house full of gold and silver nor high honors offered by the king can sway him from his determined course, which has been charted for him by that God whom he serves. But greed for wealth and lust for honor beckon him. How marvelous it would be to be rich and powerful-as well as having the prophetic powers that already are his. Perhaps the Lord would let him compromise his standards and have some worldly prosperity and power as well as a testimony of the gospel. Of course he knew the gospel was true, as it were, but why should he be denied the things his political file leader could confer? I wonder how often some of us get our direction from the Church and then, Balaam-like, plead for some worldly rewards and finally receive an answer which says, in effect, if you are determined to be a millionaire or to gain this or that worldly honor, go ahead, with the understanding that you will continue to serve the Lord. Then we wonder why things don't work out for us as well as they would have done if we had put first in our lives the things of God's kingdom.
Question What tools does Satan have, at his disposal, to subtly derail Saints with firm testimonies?
William S. Godbe Successful Businessman in early Utah Opposed Brigham Young’s call to avoid gentile merchants in Utah and across the nation. Excommunicated in 1870 Founded “Church of Zion” and the “Godbeites” Also founded The Salt Lake Tribune
Lesson Manual "Members of the Church who seek earthly rewards and honors, who seek exceptions to God's counsel and commandments, or who try to introduce worldly ideas, practices, or standards into the Church are following Balaam's unrighteous example."
Elder Holland A man who'd been away from the Church for half a century came back to Utah and took a job as custodian of the local chapel, promising the bishop that he'd come to church and stop smoking. But he did neither. The bishop did not rebuke him, but he kept asking, "Do you remember the promise you made?" The man said, "Yes, I remember, Bishop." The bishop would smile and shake hands and walk away, but the man did not come to church and he did not stop smoking. One night, inside the chapel when he was working late, he was overcome with the most terrifying, paralyzing fear he had ever experienced in his life. (I heard him say this with his own lips, though I do not know the man's name.) He said, "I have never been so fearful, so frightened, so petrified in my life. I've been afraid. I have been in dangerous, frightening circumstances, but there is nothing in this world with which I can compare or any way in this world I can describe the experience I had that night. Every creak and crack and dark corner of the chapel terrified me, and I began to run." This was a grown man speaking, a grandfather. "I began to run from the building and fled to my home. But I was also just as terrified in my own home, and I could not control my emotions.
Elder Holland Cont. I ran from my home and went to a shed behind my house. And for the first time in half a century I fell to my knees and I prayed. I said, 'O Lord, save me from whatever this is that terrifies me so.'" Quaking, trembling, perspiring on his knees in this shed out behind his home, he continued his prayer. He said, "I was lisping like a child the only prayers I knew, when there came into my heart the words of a song that I had not heard nor sung for that half century. I think I did not ever know the words, and I surely do not know them now. But I heard them with symphonic accompaniment and angelic choirs. I heard them, music and word, in that shed behind my home in the middle of that night." It's a hymn that you know, my young friends, and the opening line is "We thank thee, O God, for a prophet." The man said, "I stopped trembling, and I stopped crying, and I know I heard the angels sing. I've never missed a church meeting since that day. I've never smoked a cigarette, and I've tried to do everything I should have done for all those years. But I want you to know that I did not then, and I probably do not now know, the words to the hymn that I heard sung that night in a shed behind my home with a celestial symphony and an angelic choir."