They Were Liberal to All – Alma 1:29-32

29 And now, because of the steadiness of the church they began to be exceedingly rich, having abundance of all things whatsoever they stood in need–an abundance of flocks and herds, and fatlings of every kind, and also abundance of grain, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious things, and abundance of silk and fine-twined linen, and all manner of good homely cloth.
30 And thus, in their prosperous circumstances, they did not send away any who were naked, or that were hungry, or that were athirst, or that were sick, or that had not been nourished; and they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, whether out of the church or in the church, having no respect to persons as to those who stood in need.
31 And thus they did prosper and become far more wealthy than those who did not belong to their church.
32 For those who did not belong to their church did indulge themselves in sorceries, and in idolatry or idleness, and in babblings, and in envyings and strife; wearing costly apparel; being lifted up in the pride of their own eyes; persecuting, lying, thieving, robbing, committing whoredoms, and murdering, and all manner of wickedness; nevertheless, the law was put in force upon all those who did transgress it, inasmuch as it was possible.
The members of the church became wealthy because of their “steadiness.”  This suggests to me that they were reliable and that they were capable of working consistently toward long-term goals.  The poorer class, on the other hand, “did indulge themselves,” which suggests a lack of self-discipline and an ethic of living for the moment.
We learn in a prior verse that the wealthy class “did not wear costly apparel, yet they were neat and comely.”  A characteristic of the lower class was “wearing costly apparel.”  They were less prudent in their spending habits and more inclined to purchase extravagant things.
The wealthy class “did not set their hearts upon riches,” which led them to freely help those in need.  Ironically, caring less about their wealth seems to have resulted in increased wealth, thus widening the economic inequality in their civilization in spite of their generosity.
All this leads to the following conclusions:

  1. You can redistribute money, but you can’t redistribute wealth, at least not permanently, without teaching the poor the skills and disciplines required to build and sustain it.
  2. Freely helping the needy may actually increase your own prosperity as well.
  3. Spending money, particularly on frivolous things, erodes your wealth.  Therefore, the desire to appear rich will likely lead you to the very decisions which will keep you in poverty.
Today, I will practice prudent money-management, including steadily pursuing long-term goals, avoiding unnecessary spending, and reaching out to help those in need.
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