Do you live among people who attack you for speaking about and living your beliefs? Do you wonder how bold to be in sharing your testimony and whether it’s really worth the effort? Maybe studying the ministry of Abinadi will help you find answers to those questions.
We don’t know anything about Abinadi’s life before he started preaching to the people in King Noah’s domain, but we know he must have been a righteous man, and a brave one, too. You’d have to be courageous to tell people that they’re wicked enough to be enslaved and even killed, especially when your audience includes the most powerful people around. Abinadi’s words made King Noah pretty angry (shocker). Abinadi had to go into hiding to save his life.
Hiding is often our first instinct in similar situations, like when the popular kids want to cause trouble, a college professor starts a belligerent rant against Christianity, or a boss gives you an assignment that goes against your moral code. Sometimes it feels easier to remain silent or follow the crowd. But in reality, which is harder: standing up to someone else, or living with yourself if you don’t do what you know you should?
Apparently Abinadi couldn’t live with himself after just one try at preaching. He came back in disguise and started teaching again, much to the distaste of King Noah. Abinadi was brought before the king and priests to be put on trial. The Book of Mormon chapters that follow include some of the books’ most pointed language. Why? Because Abinadi never backed down.
Does that mean we should walk around telling people that God is going to smite them for their sins? No. Our main takeaway from Abinadi’s ministry shouldn’t be to make bold accusations. The point is that Abinadi said exactly what God asked him to say in a way that focused on Christ. When the priests asked Abinadi a question probably meant to stump him, Abinadi responded by reviewing the 10 commandments and prophesying about Christ’s life.
God probably won’t ask us to call an entire population to repentance. He has asked us to be good examples to those around us. He may prompt us to bear testimony of the Gospel or even to stand up boldly for our standards. In any case, we can follow Abinadi’s example by saying what God leads us to say and centering our words and actions on Christ. When tough situations arise, the Holy Ghost and trusted leaders can help us decide exactly which words to use and how to act.
Maybe you’ve already tried to do these things and felt unsuccessful. In that case, that’s one more thing you probably have in common with Abinadi. Before he died, he saw one priest stand up for him, but he probably had no idea that that priest, Alma the Elder, would become a prophet himself. Abinadi’s words went first to hundreds and eventually to millions of people through the Book of Mormon. We may never know who’s paying attention and how far-reaching our examples may be.
So the next time you have to choose between hiding and bearing testimony, remember Abinadi’s story. Remember that immediate results aren’t the most important. And most of all, remember that Heavenly Father will be with you to the end.
|What Abinadi Did||What We Can Do|
|Preached the hard truth boldly (Mosiah 11:20-26)||Don’t apologize for or sugarcoat the truth|
|Returned to preach again despite danger (12:1)||Try again when things don’t go well at first|
|Told priests that he would be protected (13:3-4)||Have faith that God will help you finish your work|
|Answered questions by prophesying of Christ (15)||Focus on Christ in our teaching and testimonies|
|Preached even to the wicked priests (17:1-2)||Testify even to those who may not listen|
|Gave up his life in defense of the truth (17:9-10)||Sacrifice our personal priorities to obey God|