Lesson 150: Ether 12:23–41

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, (2012), 520–22


In humble prayer, Moroni expressed a concern. He worried about the weakness he perceived in his writing and in the writing of other Book of Mormon prophets. The Lord responded with a promise to strengthen those who humble themselves and have faith in Him.

Suggestions for Teaching

Ether 12:23–41

Moroni teaches that faith, hope, and charity are essential to salvation

Write the word strong on one side of the board and the word weak on the other side of the board. Give students time to ponder what they feel are their strengths. Then invite them to think about a few of their weaknesses or inadequacies. Ask them to raise their hands if they would like their weaknesses changed into strengths. Explain that Moroni taught about why we have weaknesses and how we can overcome them.

Invite a student to read Ether 12:23–25 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, identifying the weakness Moroni felt he and other writers of the Book of Mormon had. Before students read, you may want to explain that the word Gentiles in these verses refers to the people who would live in Gentile nations in the latter days.

  • What did Moroni worry would happen because of the weakness of those who wrote the Book of Mormon?

Invite students to read silently the Lord’s answer to Moroni’s concern in Ether 12:26–27. Ask them to look for a reason why God gives us weaknesses. Point out that Ether 12:27 is a scripture mastery passage. You might encourage students to mark this passage in a distinctive way so they will be able to find it easily.

To help students better understand the term weakness as it is used in these verses, ask a student to read the following statement by Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Before the statement is read, ask the class to listen for the two kinds of weakness Elder Maxwell identified.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell“When we read in the scriptures of man’s ‘weakness,’ this term includes the … weakness inherent in the general human condition in which the flesh has such an incessant [or constant] impact upon the spirit (see Ether 12:28–29). Weakness likewise includes, however, our specific, individual weaknesses, which we are expected to overcome (see D&C 66:3; Jacob 4:7). Life has a way of exposing these weaknesses” (Lord, Increase Our Faith [1994], 84).

  • According to Elder Maxwell, what two kinds of human weakness do we read about in the scriptures? (You may need to explain that the phrase “general human condition” refers to the weakness that resulted from the Fall of Adam and Eve or, in other words, the weaknesses associated with the “natural man” spoken of in Mosiah 3:19.)

Remind students that the scriptures sometimes indicate a principle by using the words if and then. The word if introduces something we must do, and then introduces an explanation of what will happen as a result of our actions. Invite students to review Ether 12:27 silently, looking for “if-then” principles taught in this verse. Students should identify the following principles (write them on the board):

If we come unto Jesus Christ, then He will show us our weakness.

If we humble ourselves and exercise faith in the Lord, then He will make weak things become strong unto us.

  • Why do you think it is important for us to recognize our weaknesses?

  • Point out the phrase “come unto Jesus Christ” in the first principle. What are some things we can do to “come unto Jesus Christ”? (Answers might include that we can pray, fast, repent, study the scriptures, participate in temple worship, serve others, and seek to develop Christlike attributes. You may want to point out that in most instances, overcoming a weakness means that in addition to seeking the Lord’s help, we must do our part.)

  • What does the second principle imply will happen if we choose not to humble ourselves and exercise faith in Jesus Christ? (Our weaknesses will remain because we have refused the Lord’s grace to help us overcome them.)

  • What do you think is meant by the phrase “my grace is sufficient for all … that humble themselves before me”? (To help students answer this question, you may need to explain that grace is a “divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ” and made possible by the Atonement [Bible Dictionary, “Grace”]. This enabling power, or assistance, will never run out—no matter how many people draw upon it.)

Invite students to share experiences they have had when the Lord has helped them (or someone they know) to overcome a weakness. (Remind students that they should not share experiences that are too personal or private.) You might also want to share an experience of your own.

To encourage application of the principles taught in Ether 12:27, write the following phrases on the board:

1. Recognize my weakness 2. Humble myself 3. Exercise faith in Jesus Christ

Invite students to write these phrases in notebooks or scripture study journals. Under the appropriate phrases, invite them to write (1) a weakness they feel they have, (2) a way they can humble themselves, and (3) a way they can exercise faith in Jesus Christ so they can receive His help, or grace, to overcome the weakness they have listed. Assure students that as they follow through with what they have written, the Lord will “make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).

Invite students to read Ether 12:26, 28 silently, looking for how the Lord further responded to Moroni’s concerns about his weakness.

Point out the statement “Fools mock, but they shall mourn” (Ether 12:26).

  • Based on what we have studied today, why do you think it is foolish to mock the weaknesses of others?

Point out that Ether 12:26 mentions meekness. (You may want to explain that to be meek is to be humble and teachable and to be patient in times of suffering.)

  • Why do you think we need to be meek in order to overlook the weaknesses of others?

Before continuing, emphasize that if we are meek, we can receive the Lord’s grace to help us overlook the weaknesses of others.

Summarize Ether 12:29–32 by explaining that Moroni taught about the importance of exercising faith and having hope and charity. You may want to explain that “charity is the pure love of Christ” (Moroni 7:47).

Invite students to read Ether 12:33–35 silently, looking for reasons why it is important to exercise charity when confronted with the weaknesses of others.

  • According to Ether 12:34, what is a consequence we will face if we do not have charity?

To conclude, invite students to read Ether 12:38–41 silently. Ask them to write in notebooks or scripture study journals about what they are doing to respond to the invitation recorded in Ether 12:41—“Seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written.”

Testify that as we humble ourselves and exercise faith in Jesus Christ, He will “make weak things become strong unto [us]” (Ether 12:27). Encourage students to follow through with the plans they have written. You might also encourage them to seek the Lord’s help in exercising charity when they are confronted with the weaknesses of others.

scripture mastery iconScripture Mastery—Ether 12:27

To help students memorize Ether 12:27, write the following words on the board and invite students to copy them on a piece of paper:

If … come … show … weakness … give … weakness … humble … grace … all men … humble … if … humble … faith … weak … strong.

Ask students to read Ether 12:27 silently, noticing these words. Then invite them to recite as much of the verse as they can, looking only at the words on their papers. Encourage students to put the piece of paper somewhere they will find it later today or tomorrow (for example, in a pocket or in their scriptures). Invite them to review Ether 12:27 whenever they see the piece of paper until they have the passage memorized.

Commentary and Background Information

Ether 12:27. “I will show unto them their weakness”

Elder Bruce C. Hafen of the Seventy indicated that our struggle to overcome weakness is central to our purpose here on earth:

“Our Father’s plan subjects us to temptation and misery in this fallen world. …

“So if you have problems in your life, don’t assume there is something wrong with you. Struggling with those problems is at the very core of life’s purpose. As we draw close to God, He will show us our weaknesses and through them make us wiser, stronger. If you’re seeing more of your weaknesses, that just might mean you’re moving nearer to God, not farther away” (“The Atonement: All for All,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 97).

The following story is about a young man who experienced a fulfillment of the Lord’s promise in Ether 12:27:

All young men in the Church are encouraged to accomplish goals through the Duty to God program and, in some areas, the Scouting program. Jonathan Perez’s parents were busy providing for his large family, and his friends ridiculed his efforts to achieve the rank of Eagle in the Scouting program. Despite these difficulties, Jonathan set a goal and went to work. Over time, and with the help and support of his Young Men leaders, he achieved his goal. He wrote, “This experience taught me that no matter what obstacles or challenges come my way, the Lord will help me overcome my shortcomings and weakness (Ether 12:27). It doesn’t matter what background we come from or if we are rich or poor. We can achieve our goals because we have the Lord by our side” (Jonathan Perez, “An Honor Earned,” New Era, Nov. 2007, 45).

Supplemental Teaching Idea

Ether 12:26. Overlooking the weaknesses of others

Point out that one weakness many people struggle with is an inability to be humble and exercise faith when they encounter the weaknesses of others. Read aloud two or three of the following situations. Pause after each one and invite students to explain how having faith in Jesus Christ, having hope in obtaining eternal blessings, or acting with charity could help someone to act appropriately in the given situation.

  1. 1.

    An acquaintance or friend has traits that you find annoying.

  2. 2.

    A member of your ward gives a talk or lesson that you feel is boring.

  3. 3.

    Someone speaks critically about you.

  4. 4.

    A family member has a flaw that sometimes makes life challenging for you.

Ether 12:27. Overcoming weaknesses

To help students understand how our weaknesses can become strengths, invite two students to read the following true accounts. Ask half the class to listen for how the individuals in each account humbled themselves and came unto Jesus Christ. Ask the other half of the class to identify how the weakness troubling each individual was overcome.

A young woman wrote:

“I have always been a naturally shy person around people I don’t know very well. …

“School started, and it seemed as if Satan knew my weakness and set out to intensify it. …

“One night before bed, I was reading in Ether 12. … ‘If [men] humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.’ …

“Tears filled my eyes. I knew that what I felt was my desire to come unto Christ. Suddenly I understood that the Lord had a plan for me. I also realized that the Lord wanted to help me make good friends. If I just had humility and faith, the Lord would help make my weakness a strength. …

“Lately I have seen how the Lord has kept His promise” (Raina Nibarger, “Shy No More,” New Era, Oct. 2009, 45).

A young man told of his struggle to become clean from a pornography addiction:

“I was curious and justified my involvement with pornography by reminding myself that guys at school were involved with it too, and it didn’t seem like a big problem for them. …

“Curiosity turned to interest, and interest developed into a strong habit. Soon I was addicted. …”

This young man eventually decided to humble himself and come to the Lord:

“I humbly bowed before the Lord in tears and pled for strength beyond my own. Night after night I prayed, and finally I knew I had to talk to my bishop about it. That was the hardest part. …

“It took a lot of time and sincere effort to break bad habits. Eventually I was judged by my priesthood leader as worthy to serve a mission. The best feeling in the world was to go through the temple and know I am clean. The Spirit I wanted to feel … came flooding into my heart and life. I am so thankful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ” (“Danger Ahead! Avoiding Pornography’s Trap,” New Era, Oct. 2002, 34, 35, 37, 39).