And they came unto Alma; and the one who was the foremost among them said unto him: Behold, what shall these my brethren do, for they are despised of all men because of their poverty, yea, and more especially by our priests; for they have cast us out of our synagogues which we have labored abundantly to build with our own hands; and they have cast us out because of our exceeding poverty; and we have no place to worship our God; and behold, what shall we do? (Alma 32:5)
In this verse the poor Zoramites ask Alma how they can worship God, since they have been cast out of the synagogues.
I was reading this verse recently and thinking about the predicament of the poor Zoramites, and suddenly that bit about how they had labored abundantly to build the synagogues stuck out to me. They may have been poor in gold and silver and material things, but they were labor-rich, since hard work is the foundation of material prosperity. It was too bad they were in a Zoramite society that revered the possession more than the labor of production that could create things, like synagogues. The materialist attitude that surrounded them is like prizing the fruit, but cutting down the tree trunk that nourished it.
Also, I have to wonder if the poor Zoramites had been encouraged to work on the synagogues in order to exploit their labor with the secret intent to eventually deny them the use of those synagogues. Would they have worked as hard if they had known they would be cast out? The poor Zoramites clearly had expectations and felt a strong sense of ownership because of the labor they put in. (We would probably call this sweat equity today.)
Anyway, for me this verse about the poor Zoramites’ abundant labor teaches me that hard work itself is riches and success. If you can create and produce, you can prosper. Of course, we can argue all day about wage rates, but at the fundamental level, if I can make hard work and production an integral part of my character, then I lay the foundation for systemic success and prosperity. If my intent is to work hard more than gaining riches, then even if riches come (or go), I won’t be owned by them. Spiritually, the love of work is more success because I can take that into the eternities, whereas I can’t take material things.