Thursday, October 8, 2015

Brotherly Love? A look at Nephi and his Brothers

This block was 1 Nephi 15-22
As I continue to study  first Nephi I am drawn back to the relationship of Nephi with his brothers.

So far in the scriptures we have read and heard about Laman and Lumuel.  We have seen how they murmur and fight Nephi at almost every turn. They are drawn to the ways of the world. They see an angel and forget. They get punished by the Lord and know it is by God’s hand and they go back to their bad habits and wicked ways. Many people who study the scriptures come to the realization they probably tend to be a little more Laman and Lemuel than Nephi and Sam.  How quick we are to forget the things we commit to do. How over a period of time, it could be short or long, bad habits start to replace good ones and the natural man tends to take over. 

In these specific chapters several things happen that show us the relationship between these brothers.  I mentioned in my post a couple of weeks ago about what we can learn from the replationshop of Nephi's parents; Lehi and Sariah’s relationship. I think that growing up Nephi had this example of love and forgiveness. Of showing compassion towards those who were angry with him. Nephi also prays all the time. He asks for help for his brothers and for them to be softened. 

In the wilderness Nephi’s bow breaks. His brothers already had crappy bows that weren’t working very well.  So instead of trying to figure it out they get mad at Nephi. (See 1 Nephi 16:20-21)  Then what does Nephi do? He doesn’t yell at them and tell them to take their whiney families and get lost, like some might do. He “Speaks much” unto then “because they had hardened their hearts again, even unto complaining against the Lord their God.” (1 Nephi 16:22)  Then he makes a bow and arrow and asks his father (again a sign of respect as Lehi had been complaining a bit as well.) Lehi prays for forgiveness gets direction from the Lord and Nephi goes out again for food. This time it does not mention any one else going with him. He gets enough food for him and all of the families with him.  Everyone thanks the Lord and is filled with joy.

Same chapter a little later Laman and Lemuel and Nephi’s brother-in-laws decide to kill Nephi and their father. 1 Nephi 16: 37.  Then the voice of the Lord chastens them. And the get over it and move on.

I have so many examples. 1 Nephi 17 Nephi chastises and truly lectures and tells his brothers of all they have seen and what they should know by now. It takes years before we see Nephi get upset with them in this detail where it seems the sorrow for them is overtaken with a lecture. But they still do not heed his words here. What happens? They get angry of course! They want to throw him into the sea. So Nephi calls upon God again and the Lord shocks them out of it. Literally, shocks them out of it. They touch Nephi’s hand and are shaken by God’s power.

What I am drawn to here is the relationship.

Anger, hate, love, forgiveness, sorrow, compassion, gossiping, ganging up on each other, praying, nurturing, threatening, restraining, teaching, continuing on.  How many families and people these days do we hear about that haven’t talked to their siblings because they are mad at them. Where they haven’t talked to a parent or brother or sister for years over some feud, misunderstanding, or wrong that was done to them?

Why do Laman and Lemuel continue on with Nephi and company instead of just going out on their own? Why doesn’t Nephi tell them they can’t come with him and mom and dad and his family anymore?   We know in general they all need to go to the Promised Land. But personally? What kept this family together?  Here are a few of the things that keep coming back to me.

1.       Prayer: Nephi and Lehi do this all of the time. Probably Sariah and Sam, too.  I am sure when they are closer to God from time to time the others probably pray.

2.       Unconditional Love: Even though they have a dysfunctional family they were given a great example of love from their mother and father. Nephi seems to have this love for his brothers. This is evident in how often he prays for them and forgives them.

3.       Compassion: Life can’t be easy for them at this point. They left their worldly things behind. They have been travelling and camping for years. Nephi is already converted to this plan so he gets it. He is ok with it. Lemuel and Laman went because they were told to.  They hate it. Nephi seems to understand this and is compassionate toward them even in their anger.

4.       Forgiveness: How many times do Laman and Lemuel try to kill Nephi? But he forgives them. Time and again he forgives them.  Laman and Lemuel forgive Nephi for all the things they perceive him to do that causes them anger, too.

5.       Charity: Nephi has charity. The pure love of Christ. He loves his brothers and wants to help them and have them progress and make it to the Tree of Life. In spite of his father’s dream and all of his brothers short comings; Nephi knows that they have a chance to make it to the tree of life and eternal salvation because of Christ.  Nephi show charity as he provides food for all of them. As he pleads with the Lord not only for himself but his brothers and their families.  This keeps his brothers with him and their company all this time.

I cannot ever imagine a time in my life or anything my siblings could do to make me just never talk to them again.  My sister and I were best friends. Once we went a week without talking. Life got busy. I didn’t have a chance to call. One day I talked to my mom and she asked me about the fight my sister and I were in.  I had no idea what she was talking about.  I had said something that hurt my sisters feelings. She thought I was mad at her and not calling but she didn’t want to call me because I was the one who was wrong and hurt her feelings. As soon as I called her it was over. We even laughed about it.  I didn’t grow up with the life Nephi and his family seemed to have in Jerusalem. I did grow up knowing that families are forever and we were not put in our families by accident.  We knew them before we got here. We can be like Lehi’s children and forgive each other, love each other, get mad at one another, get over it. Grow up. Be a family, have our own families. Have different thoughts and beliefs and still be a family.     

(Wait, what? That end up lifelong enemies? I am not in those chapters yet! At the end of this block of scriptures they are all getting along!)

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