This morning while reading in Alma it struck me how often the scripture mentions a main difference between the Nephites and the Lamanites was being industrious vs being indolent. When Amalickiah becomes King of the Lamanites through subterfuge, Alma records how the people who left the Nephites with him became wicked “giving way to indolence.” The footnote for indolence refers to 3 Nephi 4:5 where “there was no way that they could subsist save it were to plunder and rob and murder.” The Topical Guide brings up another reference in Alma 17 about how the people “might not labor for them with their own hands” but would murder and plunder for gold, silver and precious stones. It also suggests I try laziness and there the list is long. Proverbs has many scriptures which warn against the idleness and sloth. I love Proverbs 20:13 – Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty.
The early saints were told that the Lord wants his people to be industrious. Both the Bible and the Book of Mormon give many examples of that. King Benjamin labored with his hands to support himself and his people. Thessalonians commands that “if any would not work, neither should he eat.” But wait, you say, what about compassion? What about helping the poor? The best way to help the poor is to teach them to work – teach them to fish instead of giving them fish.
I would like to point out also the difference in would vs could. The scripture in Thessalonians has the assumption that the ability to work is there the desire is not. I have met many with the desire to work who did not have the ability through injury or illness. Those are they whom the Saviour said to assist when he spoke of helping the poor and those who will always be with us. Yet Mosiah 4 talks of giving alms without judgement and giving in your heart when you don’t have the wherewithal to give.
The point I’m getting at is although the grace of the Atonement is how we are saved, we demonstrate our acceptance of that grace through our works. When we have the Saviour in our hearts, we show that through our industry and put aside indolence.