Alma 37:6 says, “Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass…”
Oftentimes when we reference this verse, the small and simple “things” we’re talking about are actually the people that God uses to do great things. Joseph Smith restoring the Church, David fighting Goliath, Nephi aiding his family on their journey, those kinds of people. But we also use this verse to outline the importance of small and simple deeds, which is the interpretation we’ll be using for this article. Deeds like daily scripture reading and prayer, or going to church on Sunday. And it’s true, by consistently doing those small and simple things, great things happen. They’re important. It’s been drilled into our heads since Primary.
But the same principle is true on the opposite end of the spectrum. By small and simple things are terrible things brought to pass, as well. That’s something we all need to remember.
By small and simple things are terrible things brought to pass
Consistent and simple outpourings of love can create beautiful, happy families. Consistent and simple outpourings of hate can destroy them.
Learning and practicing righteous habits can create immense spiritual strength. Allowing ourselves to fall into lazy, apathetic habits can eliminate the Spirit from our lives.
Uplifting media can inspire and open doors to revelation. Inappropriate media, even if inappropriate in “small and simple” ways, can dull and infect our spirits.
No doubt each of us is trying to incorporate positive small and simple things in our lives, but do we recognize the negative ones we’re already practicing?
Small and simple ≠ insignificant
“Small and simple” is not a synonym for “insignificant.” This is one of the lies Satan whispers softly into our ears.
We’re all familiar with the lies associated with the positive small and simple things. For example, “Oh don’t worry, scripture reading isn’t all that important” (that’s one he tells me, personally).
But the lies he tells us in association with the negative small and simple things might sometimes slip under our radar. For example: “This movie only has a few F-bombs in it … it’s no big deal” (another one he tells me).
We need to be careful.
The fruits of negative small and simple things
So, what do negative small and simple things look like in action? How do they make terrible things come to pass? Here are just a few examples (if you think of any other great examples, share them in the comments section):
Example 1: Gaming and marriage
Playing video games isn’t necessarily a bad thing to do, but when this small and simple thing gets out of hand, it can have severe repercussions. TIME Magazine even did an article back in 2012 about how online gaming could be “Messing Up Your Marriage.”
My heart aches when a young couple—sealed together in the house of the Lord for time and for all eternity by the power of the holy priesthood—experiences marital difficulties because of the addicting effect of excessive video gaming or online socializing. A young man or woman may waste countless hours, postpone or forfeit vocational or academic achievement, and ultimately sacrifice cherished human relationships because of mind- and spirit-numbing video and online games.
Example 2: Dishonesty
Small and simple white lies may seem harmless, but they’re one way that Satan “leadeth [us] by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth [us] with his strong cords forever.”
One lie makes the next lie easier. Soon they start building on each other. Before you know it you’ve spun an intricate web of lies that’s bound to end badly sooner or inescapably later.
Example 3: Sex trafficking
Yeah, we’re going there. If we reverse engineer sex trafficking, we find that pornography and trafficking are inseparably linked. Many people, even within the world of Christian morals, view pornography as something “small and simple.” It’s something you can view anytime, anywhere, and it only affects you, right? Wrong.
Research shows that much of the demand for sex trafficking stems from pornography use. Many of the individuals involved in pornographic content are trafficked. Clicking on that content fuels the demand for even more trafficking. It’s just one more example of how something seemingly insignificant can bring about horrific results.
We got this
It’s essential that we strive to continue doing those positive small and simple things that the prophets are constantly reminding us of.
But it’s also essential that we analyze ourselves and identify the negative small and simple things we may be guilty of as well. Our challenge is to nip those things in the bud before their roots take hold on our hearts. Rip them out of the garden of your mind. Replace them with wholesome seeds. If we do, we’ll be much better off when it comes time to reap what we sow.