What do coach John Wooden and the prophet Abinadi have in common? Well, not much. But one thing that they do have in common is somewhat uncommon. They are both men who understand that success on the court (whether a basketball court or a court of wicked priests) begins with the basics!
John Wooden was the UCLA men’s basketball coach in the 1960’s and 70’s. One of the things that he is best know for is beginning with the basics as he trained his players. He did not presume that his players knew the basics. He started them all from scratch. One of the basics he taught them was the “right” way to tie their shoes. The “right” way was to begin with the RIGHT lace over the left. By tying their shoes in this way he wanted to emphasize doing things RIGHT. Before these seasoned players set foot on the court, they learned how to tie their shoes the “right” way. Silly? Maybe. But 10 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships (seven in a row from 1967-1973) make it seem like the “right” way to coach.
Abinadi seems to take the same approach with King Noah and his “court”. As the court of wicked priests question Abinadi on Isaiah’s “advanced-placement” doctrine, Abinadi brings them back to the basics of the gospel–the Ten Commandments. Abinadi knows what Cecil B. DeMille put so eloquently:
“Those who have eyes to see will see… the awful lesson of how quickly a nation or a man can fall without God’s law. If man will not be ruled by God, he will certainly be ruled by tyrants—and there is no tyranny more imperious or more devastating than man’s own selfishness, without the law. We cannot break the Ten Commandments. We can only break ourselves against them—or else, by keeping them, rise through them to the fullness of freedom under God. God means us to be free.” (Cecil B. DeMille, BYU Speeches of the Year, 31 May 1957. Emphasis added.)
You will witness the truth of this statement as you read through the account of the people of King Noah (Mosiah 11-19), as they choose to be blinded by a tyrant rather than to see a SEER (See-er, Moses 6:27, 35-36) of the Lord!
By the way, have you ever wondered which commandment is the most important? Hopefully the words of Jesus come to mind when you consider the answer (see Matthew 22:36-40). However, have you ever thought about it this way?
The most important of all the commandments of God is that one that you are having the most difficulty keeping today. If it is one of dishonesty, if it is one of unchastity, if it is one of falsifying, not telling the truth, today is the day for you to work on that until you have been able to conquer that weakness. Put that aright and then you start on the next one that is most difficult for you to keep. That’s the way to sanctify yourself by keeping the commandments of God. (TEACHINGS OF PRESIDENTS OF THE CHURCH: HAROLD B. LEE, Chapter 4.)
I know that as we get “back to basics” and keep the “first and great commandment” to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,” that we will have the desire and discipline to work on keeping the commandment that we are having the “most difficulty keeping” today. May our efforts to do so today reflect our love for God and His precious Son! (see John 14:15)
Pure Love: The True Sign of Every True Disciple of Jesus Christ
What to learn more? Here ya go!
- KnoWhy: Mosiah 11:15, Why Does the Book of Mormon Mention Wine Vineyards and Wine Presses?
- KnoWhy: Mosiah 12:20–21; cf. Isaiah 52:7, Why Would Noah’s Priests Quiz Abinadi on Isaiah?
- KnoWhy: Mosiah 13:5, Did Abinadi Prophesy During Pentecost?
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