Wherefore, I, Nephi, did strive to keep the commandments of the Lord, and I did exhort my brethren to faithfulness and diligence. (1 Nephi 17:15)

This verse caught my eye recently. It comes a few verses after Nephi gets the command to build a ship. The word that caught my attention was “strive.”

“Strive” means much much more than “try”; it means “fight or contend.”

So Nephi is saying that he fought to keep the commandments. Interestingly, this verse also comes before Nephi’s brothers realize he’s going to start building a ship, so he hasn’t even begun to preach to them about their murmuring yet. They haven’t begun to murmur; they don’t know a ship-building operation is about to begin.

So the question that came to me next was, “Who was Nephi striving against to keep the commandments in this verse?”

I realized he was fighting himself and his own inclinations. At some level Nephi was reluctant to build the ship. Even though he got busy collecting ore and made a bellows, he still had a part of him that hung back and didn’t want to do it. So he had to fight to be obedient first. And because he fought and won that battle, he was prepared to work to convince his brothers.

I find this realization inspiring and comforting. Throughout Nephi’s story you get the idea that he had little to no internal conflict with himself about doing what the Lord asked him to do. (We see it with killing Laban, but elsewhere hardly at all.)

So it helps me to see that Nephi also had to fight internal battles with himself to be obedient, and it helps to see that in this case he even had to fight them after he’d already begunto be obedient.  It shows that along with having to overcome the temptation of disobedience, we also have to overcome the temptation to slack off once we’ve begun a big hard task to keep the Lord’s commandments.   (I can think of a number of times I’ve been stopped in my tracks a ways in from starting something because the temptation to slack off got to me.) 

I think that realizing that tendency can help us overcome it when we’re faced with it. Instead of saying to ourselves, Ugh, I don’t want to do this; this is such a big job, we can say instead, Ah yes, this is the temptation to quit after having gotten a good start.

Have you noticed this problem affecting you? What do you do to overcome it?

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