Okay, so I thought I would write a little something about a verse of scripture from the Book of Mormon that seems to be quite popular; yet, in my opinion it seems to be pulled out of context regularly.
I thought about writing something on Sunday and then kind of let it go. Then, I read something else later this week where the author used the same scripture I will be writing about here, and he used it the same way it was used in a church meeting. I was going to let it go again and then I thought I’d just write about it and see if I could explain what I mean about this scripture.
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, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
The verses leading up to verse 23 are about the marvelous things that have been done by different people because of their faith. However, most significant to my point is that verse 23 talks about Moroni’s concern about his weakness in writing. He says that the Lord “has made us mighty in word by faith,” but not mighty in writing. It was apparently very difficult to actually write on the metal plates and Moroni said it was “awkward” to write (verse 24). He goes on to say that the words themselves are powerful and great but he stumbles to place them.
This makes sense to me since I understand what it is like to have a feeling or a kind of “knowing” inside of me that there aren’t words for. It is challenging to express the feelings and wordless thoughts of our spirits. I feel like this might be what Moroni is talking about – his feelings of weakness in being able to fully express what it is that he has in his heart along with the awkwardness of actually trying to write on the metal plates. It isn’t like he had a word processor with spell check.
The Lord tells Moroni in verse 26 that fools mock, but His grace is sufficient and “they shall take no advantage of your weakness.” The Lord acknowledges that this is a weakness for Moroni. THEN, we get to verse 27. I understand people want to apply scripture to their lives in ways that can help them overcome their trials, and so forth. However, I think it is interesting to keep verse 27 in Moroni’s perspective. This is the Lord speaking to Moroni and not his interpretation of something the Lord said. It says that weakness leads to humility. The Lord’s grace is sufficient for those who humble themselves and have faith in Christ; and, then weak things become strong.
Somehow this verse has taken on a life of its own even though the verses before and the verse after are referring to a specific “weakness in writing” that Moroni is sharing with the Lord. Verse 28 continues with the “weakness in writing” reference when the Lord refers to the Gentiles and how their weakness will be revealed (hence their humility to read the words and use faith to understand them).
Moroni goes on to say that he was comforted by remembering how important it is to have faith in the Lord and he again starts listing great things that can be done with faith. He remembers that what he is doing will be manifested through grace because that is what he was promised: “my grace is sufficient.” (I think that most of the time that we are comforted it is because we remember something that has come to us by grace. The Holy Ghost, the Comforter, brings all things to our remembrance.)
Moroni ultimately remembers the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, is a witness of Jesus Christ) and he reasons through his feelings of inadequacy with the realization that the Gentiles need to have charity when it comes to his “weakness in writing.” He then prays for the Gentiles to have grace so they might have charity. (If the Lord’s grace IS sufficient, then the Gentiles will humble themselves with charity; therefore, they will be able to see beyond the “weakness in writing” with their faith in Christ.)
In verse 37, the Lord tells Moroni that if the Gentiles don’t have charity it isn’t Moroni’s fault because he is faithful. “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.”
1) Moroni expresses concern about his weakness in writing unto the Gentiles.
2) The Lord tells him that His grace is sufficient and the Gentiles needs to humble themselves.
3) Moroni is comforted and remembers the great things that the Lord has done through grace, charity, and faith.
4) Moroni remembers that ultimately our strength will come when we sit down in “the mansions of my Father.”
It has been my experience that most of the time when people refer to verse 27 they isolate the verse and it becomes some kind of promise that if we have enough faith we can overcome our weaknesses. I don’t see it that way. I see it as a process of concern over a weakness and then having a spiritual encounter with the Lord that leads to another process of remembering the big picture, with some reminders about humility, charity, and grace thrown in for good measure. Yes, of course faith is important and powerful and miraculous. However, in the context of these verses I see Moroni's experience here to be more about grace and the process of Moroni coming to terms with his weakness rather than actually overcoming it.
Like Paul, there may be a “thorn in the flesh” that lasts longer than we believe we can tolerate. Both Moroni and Paul were reminded that the Lord’s grace is sufficient to see us through WITH our weaknesses. We do what we can to be faithful, to turn to the Lord with humility, but in the end it is about the grace of God that will see us through to the eternities.
If we can overcome our weaknesses then of course that is a good thing. My point here is that if we have to continue to bear our weaknesses with humility and experience grace then we have become stronger than we were before.
NOTE: I think we all define weaknesses differently. Perhaps that is where the biggest misunderstandings come from. I'm not always sure what people are referring to when the talk about "weaknesses". We each have our own concerns that we take to God and hope that we can work through them with light and truth. Some weakness we might be able to overcome and others we simply learn to cope with as we become stronger through the grace that is sufficient to our needs.