Burying our Sins

And now behold, since it has been as much as we could do to get our stains taken away from us, and our swords are made bright, let us hide them away, that they may be kept bright, as a testimony to our God…

Alma 24:15

My favorite story from the Book of Mormon is that of people of Ammon, Lamanites who had converted to the Gospel and who were overcome with guilt at their conduct in prior wars. (If you aren’t LDS, they were bad guys who became good guys and wished they had never been bad guys. Ammon was the missionary who convinced them to change their ways). Once they felt that they had been forgiven of their sins, they were determined never to go backwards.

To that end, they decided to bury their weapons of war. Literally. They dug a big hole and threw in their swords, spears, bows, arrows…I’m pretty sure that the moms even threw in their chanclas. Even though they had repented, they wanted to remove any temptation to backslide, and therefore they parted company with the tools of warfare. Even when the Lamanites later attaked them, they sacrificed their lives rather than unearth their weapons and the hard hearts that had been buried with them.

I love this symbol of commitment to Christ. They wanted not only to repent of their former lives, but they intended to bury their sins out of their sight. I can’t imagine that such people would sit around a fire and share stories of their exploits of war. They didn’t revel in their past. They made a clean break.

Not all of us are like that. Sometimes we look to our pasts almost wistfully. Other times we laughingly tell stories of riotous moments in our history for the entertainment of others. Like Lot’s wife, our feet are pointed towards Zion, but our heads keep turning towards Sodom. We might be better served by digging symbolic holes–or perhaps even physical ones–and burying the things that have been problematic for us in the past. Instead of reluctantly releasing our sins, we can just bury those suckers.

Another remarkable thing about this community is that they were under no commandment to do what they did. The Nephites (more good guys) maintained their weapons and fought when they needed to. Ammon kept his sword, and there is no record that he advised or encouraged the people to make this covenant of pacifism or to bury their weapons. They went beyond what was merely commanded in order to do what the Spirit told them they should.

By contrast, I know that I am guilty of doing the very least I can do. Being able to get through a temple interview is important, but it is equally important to be obedient to the promptings of the Spirit from moment to moment. Each of us has “personal commandments” given to us through inspiration, and keeping those commandments is no less important to our discipleship than the formal covenants that we make with the Lord.

The people of Ammon took extreme measures to protect their spiritual lives. Sometimes we have to take extreme measures ourselves, and we need to do so without embarrassment or shame.

We just pick up a shovel and dig.

Satan will try to use our memory of any previous guilt to lure us back into his influence. We must be ever vigilant to avoid his enticements. Such was the case of the faithful Ammonite fathers. Even after their years of faithful living, it was imperative for them to protect themselves spiritually from any attraction to the memory of past sins.

Richard G. Scott
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