One of the greatest missionaries that we have record of is Ammon. He was the son of a king who, with his brothers, gave up his right of inheritance of the kingship to serve as a missionary to the end of his life if necessary. Ammon and his brothers went to teach the Lamanites. Ammon was captured but convinced the king – Lamoni – to allow him to be his servant. Lamoni was so impressed that he offered Ammon a marriage to one of his daughters. Ammon refused but took upon himself the role of servant. After an impressive show of sword and sling, saving sheep and servants, Ammon was summoned to the presence of King Lamoni. Lamoni thought that Ammon might be the Great Spirit, come to punish him for his sins.
Ammon convinced Lamoni that he was a man but one who served God. Lamoni was so impressed with Ammon and Ammon’s spirit of discernment and prophecy that he said, “How knowest thou the thoughts of my heart? Thou mayest speak boldly, and tell me concerning these things; and also tell me by what power ye slew and smote off the arms of my brethren that scattered my flocks— And now, if thou wilt tell me concerning these things, whatsoever thou desirest I will give unto thee; and if it were needed, I would guard thee with my armies; but I know that thou art more powerful than all they; nevertheless, whatsoever thou desirest of me I will grant it unto thee” (Alma 18:20-21).
Now that we have context, we can move on to the next line. “Now Ammon being wise, yet harmless, he said unto Lamoni: Wilt thou hearken unto my words, if I tell thee by what power I do these things? And this is the thing that I desire of thee.” (Alma 18:22).
What does it mean that Ammon was wise, yet harmless? There is much power in wisdom. With wisdom comes the power to abuse. Generally those who are wise are wise enough to not take advantage of others but that threat exists. Ammon was wise, he understood human nature; he had insight into Lamoni given to him by God. Ammon could have used his wisdom to gain great worldly power and wealth. He could have used his wisdom for great harm. Ammon didn’t though. He was “harmless.” Ammon only desired positive things for and from Lamoni. Ammon was a servant of God who wanted just to preach God’s word and bring others to Christ. Ammon used his wisdom for good.
Wisdom is a gift from God. Some people have it, others do not. Some people gain it through life experiences, others do not. Some seek after it, other eschew it. It is important for those who are wise to be harmless like Ammon. We must use our God-given gifts for the benefit of others and not for selfish reasons. Wisdom is a call to service; it is not a call of superiority. May we all be wise, yet harmless like Ammon!