Alma 1:26 - 1:33
Alma 1:26 And when the priests left their labor to impart the word of God unto the people, the people also left their labors to hear the word of God. And when the priest had imparted unto them the word of God they all returned again diligently unto their labors; and the priest, not esteeming himself above his hearers, for the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner; and thus they were all equal, and they did all labor, every man according to his strength.
The members of the church did not think of any of them were better than any other member. The priest or the teacher work for a living just like everyone else of the church membership. On the Sabbath, the priest and teacher left their daily labors and came together for church services. When church was over, all went back to the occupations to support themselves and their families. Again, no one thought of themselves as being better than another because of some church office they may have held.
This was in stark contrast to the other churches where the priest were supported by their members and they were considered to be better than the ordinary membership.
Alma 1:27 And they did impart of their substance, every man according to that which he had, to the poor, and the needy, and the sick, and the afflicted; and they did not wear costly apparel, yet they were neat and comely.
In addition, they look out for the temporal welfare of each other. If anyone was in need, they freely gave what they had to help them with their needs. They dressed in ordinary clothes and did not ware expensive garments to show off their wealth if they happened to be rich enough to do so. Their clothing was modest and utilitarian.
Alma 1:28 And thus they did establish the affairs of the church; and thus they began to have continual peace again, notwithstanding all their persecutions.
Because of the church member’s example and living to help each other, conflict within the church all but ceased. However, the members of the other churches did not stop their ridicule or persecutions of members of the true church.
Alma 1:29 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.
An interesting thing happened with the church membership. Because of their communal living, the standard of living began to increase in a remarkable fashion. They were becoming rich. They now had many more livestock and food stuffs and the general population. Not only that but they were also gaining precious things like gold and silver.
Alma 1:30 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.
However, they did not keep these riches to themselves but freely gave to those in need whether in or out of the church. If there was a need for food it was given. If they were thirsty, they were provided with drink. The sick was cared for, again whether in or out of the church. The members did not spend their time thinking about their abundance but were ready to impart when there was a need regardless of their station in life.
This has been a hallmark of our church welfare system. Whenever a disaster occurs, whether natural or manmade, the church is there with as much help as they can. Many times quicker than anyone else. I remember President Hinckley saying that as long as they had supplies in our storehouses, they would be made available to any and all during any kind of disaster. Several years ago, I was down in the town of Chehalis, Washington just after a major flood to help folks clean up their homes and remove flood debris from their yards. We also gave away cleaning kits for free and were brought up from Salt Lake in two Simi-trucks. The kits were 5 gal buckets with about 50 dollars’ worth of cleaning liquids and paper clothes. I was very impressed.
Alma 1:31 And thus they did prosper and become far more wealthy than those who did not belong to their church.
The net result was that the church members were now better off than those were did not belong to the church.
It is interesting that when you are not concerned about riches and promoting yourself, that riches do come particularly as you work together for the common support of each other. I think we can see that to some degree in the church today. No one is going without and we work together to help members find employment and educational opportunities.
Alma 1:32 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 non-members were living the life of self-indulgence. They were drinking, drugs, and sex. They were trying to outdo each other in how much precious things they owned. They were engaged in various forms of unlawful behavior and were brought to trial as it was possible. Much of their illegal actively was not readily seen by veryone.
Alma 1:33 And it came to pass that by thus exercising the law upon them, every man suffering according to that which he had done, they became more still, and durst not commit any wickedness if it were known; therefore, there was much peace among the people of Nephi until the fifth year of the reign of the judges.
And because of these illegal activities being discovered and the perpetrators were being brought before the judges, things began to settle down somewhat in the society. Law breakers were brought to trial and people began to behave themselves a little better until the 5th year of the reign of the judges.