I am appreciating today the difference in wholesomeness, cleanliness, or worthiness that is presented in these verses as a contrast to the more sinful state of those at Zarahemla. It causes me to consider the question of whether it is better to have experienced the hardship and difficulties of sin and then gone through the process of repentance, or whether it is better to have the experience of endurance in righteousness.
That this comparison would even be considered brings to light two general false assumptions:
- That the Atonement of Christ can only be seriously experienced and realistically accessed through the process of turning from serious, grievous sin.
- Similarly, the sufferings and hardship of the righteous who endure in righteousness are not the same, nor comparable, nor as significant as the pain and anguish that is suffered by the godless as the result of sin.
I discussed this point further with my wife when I last considered this section of scripture. Pain and hardship is not synonymous with sin and subsequent suffering. Yet many times we assume that if we are experiencing difficulties it is because of sin, entirely forgetting the ultimate purpose of our existence is to experience the refinement and purification that will forge the means of our salvation.
So for Alma to find the people of Gideon in a state of humility, blameless before God (see vs. 3) is quite noteworthy. The groundwork had already been laid for a much greater blessings to be obtained.
See also: The Atonement Covers All Pain