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Wealth: Both blessing and curse, based upon its use

"The coveting of wealth so often has resulted in avarice, dishonesty and greed," said Elder Dean L. Larsen, then of the Presidency of the Seventy, in an address at the April 1991 general conference. "The acquisition of wealth has frequently produced pride, self-satisfaction and arrogance.

"An episode during the time of Alma in the Book of Mormon illustrates the cycle that has so often occurred when people are blessed materially by the Lord and then turn away from Him. In the instance referred to, the Nephite people were struggling to overcome the effects of a devastating civil strife and a Lamanite invasion."Not only had there been great loss of life; the destruction to lands and to property had been sufficient to seriously jeopardize the prospects of recovery. Alma describes conditions in these words: `But the people were afflicted, yea, greatly afflicted for the loss of their brethren, and also for the loss of their flocks and herds, and also for the loss of their fields of grain, which were trodden under foot and destroyed. . . .

" `And so great were their afflictions that every soul had cause to mourn; and they believed that it was the judgments of God sent upon them because of their abominations; therefore they were awakened to a remembrance of their duty.

" `And they began to establish the church more fully; yea, and many were baptized in the waters of Sidon and were joined to the church of God.' (Alma 4:2-4.)

"This spiritual reawakening among the people had a dramatic effect. Peace returned to the land. The Church prospered in its rapid growth. Not surprisingly, the people soon began again to enjoy an abundant life.

"The spiritual blessings granted by the Lord were accompanied by the acquisition of material wealth. Unfortunately, the Nephites failed to meet this test. Within three years from the time of their earlier tragedy, Alma describes his people in this way: `The people of the church began to wax proud, because of their exceeding riches, and their fine silks, and their fine-twined linen, and because of their many flocks and herds, and their gold and their silver, and all manner of precious things, which they had obtained by their industry; and in all these things were they lifted up in the pride of their eyes.' (Alma 4:6.)

"History repeatedly confirms that the abundance of earthly possessions can be both a blessing and a curse, depending upon the way these things are viewed and used. When we consume them on our own lust, we invoke tragedy.

"Wealth is a relative thing: Conditions vary dramatically from place to place in the world today. That which some consider to be the necessities of life, to others would be abundance, and even extravagance. In any set of circumstances, the challenges related to the improvement in material prosperity remain the same."

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