When He Also Saw the Great Love He Had – Alma 20:26-27

26 And when he saw that Ammon had no desire to destroy him, and when he also saw the great love he had for his son Lamoni, he was astonished exceedingly, and said: Because this is all that thou hast desired, that I would release thy brethren, and suffer that my son Lamoni should retain his kingdom, behold, I will grant unto you that my son may retain his kingdom from this time and forever; and I will govern him no more—
27 And I will also grant unto thee that thy brethren may be cast out of prison, and thou and thy brethren may come unto me, in my kingdom; for I shall greatly desire to see thee. For the king was greatly astonished at the words which he had spoken, and also at the words which had been spoken by his son Lamoni, therefore he was desirous to learn them.

King Lamoni’s father, who was “king over all the land,” had an experience in this chapter which challenged some of his deep-rooted biases. He believed that:
  1. Nephi was a liar.
  2. He robbed Laman and Lemuel.
  3. His descendants, the Nephites, are also liars.
  4. Their goal is to rob the Lamanites of their property (Alma 20:13).
In spite of the king’s antagonistic tone, he reveals some of his own values even as he misstates Ammon’s intentions:
  1. He values honesty.
  2. He believes that people should respect one another’s property.
After Ammon overpowers him, and he realizes that his life is in jeopardy, the king offers to give Ammon anything he wants, “even to half of the kingdom.” This is a reasonable reaction, given his assumption that Ammon has come to trick them out of their property. Ammon’s response must have been bewildering to him. He asked for two things:
  1. Release my brothers from prison.
  2. Grant independence to your son Lamoni.
It seems likely that the king had not had many interactions with Nephites. As President Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught recently at the University of Southern California:

It is human nature to be suspicious, envious, distrustful, and even hateful of those we do not really know…. The great tragedy is that if only we could take the time to truly know a person, we would discover that perhaps we are not so different after all.
He who once was our enemy can become our friend (“Fellow Travelers, Brothers and Sisters, Children of God,” speech given April 24, 2015 at the John A. Widtsoe symposium at USC).

Lamoni’s father was convinced that he had something to learn from Ammon and his brothers, not because of what Ammon said but because of his unselfish actions. Ammon’s behavior differed so dramatically from the king’s assumptions about Nephites that he wanted to know more about what Ammon believed. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “What you are stands over you…, and thunders so that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary” (Letters and Social Aims, 1876, p. 80).
Today, I will remember that the most important missionary work I do is to live the gospel as well as I can. The incorrect assumptions that people might have about me or about the Church are most likely to be disproven, not by my words, but by my actions.

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