This past week, many of us watched a certain athlete apologize for some recent mishaps in his life. None of us are in a position to judge him on his sincerity, his motivation or his wrongdoings. It should be left between him, his family and his sponsors…and God. However, his public life is a perfect example in our days of the pride cycle that we have been reading about in the book of Helaman. The Nephites went through this cycle over and over throughout the Book of Mormon, but it is so well described and accentuated in these chapters.
The athlete in question was certainly at the top of his game…he was indeed the best in the world. His level of prosperity is beyond comprehension of 95% of the world, and he was admired by many. Unbeknownst to the world, he had developed a false sense of entitlement because of his prosperity and achievements. He turned to secret works, hidden from others’ view, and followed the wicked ways of the great enemy of God – the adversary himself. After being caught in his transgressions, he has been forced to be humble, much like the Zoramites who were cast out of their synagogues when Alma and Amulek visited them. From this humility, he must now seek forgiveness from God and his family. Eventually, if he continues on the cycle, he will once again be able to return to his sport and begin to prosper in success and wealth – if he is sufficiently humbled and changed.
After defeating the Lamanites in war, the Nephites began to prosper exceedingly in the land. In the times of prosperity, they tended to forget their God, and His strength in delivering them out of the hands of their enemies, and they began to fall. At the bottom of this fall, they again found themselves thriving in their works of darkness and in committing many, many sins. When the Lord’s influence was so ignored and refused, the Nephites fell into destruction – almost overnight. With the threat of extinction hanging over their heads, they once again found hope in the teachings of their prophets, and once again humbled themselves, repented of their wickedness, changed their ways, and recognized the Lord in their lives. Almost magically, they began to prosper in the land, one more time.
Whether we suffer through the pride cycle on our own, in the tabloids, or as a people, it is critical that we correct our ways before it’s too late. Rather than being compelled to be humble, it would be better for us to reach down deep inside and humble ourselves because of our love for the Lord. Instead of living in evil and wickedness – as a nation or as an individual – we can indeed live in times of peace and prosperity, and have the Lord on our side.