I had a great conversation yesterday amongst my colleagues. We were discussing what wisdom means when we looked at a scripture that I have read many times before, but this time I saw it in a whole new light.
Alma 48:11 reads, “And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect understanding; yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery”
Mormon uses the word “yea” in this verse as an amplifier. He is going to show how Captain Moroni was a man of perfect understanding following his use of the word “yea”. Moroni did not delight in bloodshed. If you take this to the extreme, Moroni would be a Quaker – yet he was a man who did kill in defense of his people. Mormon also tells us that Moroni’s soul did joy in liberty and freedom. On this point, taken to the extreme, we could assume that Moroni would be hawkish – always looking for a fight when liberties are threatened. Yet Moroni is balanced. He is the perfect balance of these two ideas: he does not delight in bloodshed but will fight to preserve the liberty of his people.
Captain Moroni was “compelled reluctantly” to contend with his enemies (Alma 48:21-22; see also Alma 43:13-14, Alma 44:1-2). He had the proper balance with respect to two principles: joy in liberty and avoiding conflict. He had “perfect understanding”. President Uchtdorf has said that “any virtue when taken to an extreme can become a vice” (Of Things That Matter Most, October 2010 General Conference). The same can be said of principles. Had Moroni been extreme in either his desire to defend liberty or to avoid bloodshed, the Nephites would have been doomed in his day.