The Lord has told us that “men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness. For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward” (Doctrine and Covenants 58:27-28)
I think most of us would gratefully admit that we have been blessed through the service of others and that this scripture refers to each of us.
Thirty-four years ago, on the spring morning that my first wife, Suzy, died, my friend, Alan Peterson, showed up at our house with his lawn mower and trimmer.
“I know how hard Suzy worked to keep the grounds around your home looking beautiful. You’ll have many people coming to console and mourn with you. I believe she’d like them to see her yard looking good.”
I will never forget this unexpected act of service and I try to show my thanks by looking for opportunities each day to perform similar acts of kindness and service.
On a little plaque outside the Tanner Building at BYU is the quote; “Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth” (Nathan Eldon Tanner).
I’m sure we agree that our actions should also reflect our gratitude.
“Because I have been given much, I too must give; Because of thy great bounty, Lord, each day I live I shall divide my gifts from thee with every brother that I see who has the need of help from me” (Hymns no. 219).
Who is our brother? The Savior answered that in his parable about the Samaritan on the road to Jericho.
Most of us are mindful of our neighbors and those around us. We faithfully minister to those assigned to our care, through service, kindness, sharing, calling, texting, and so on, and through our attentiveness reinforce the important truth that God loves you…and has asked me to keep in touch with you and help you.
One of the choicest blessings I’ve received as I’ve served others, is to see them through Christlike eyes – as He sees them – His brothers and sisters, and mine too. It fills me with joy.
The Lord knows who needs our help and through the Holy Ghost tries to make us aware of who they are. As we listen to these impressions and act on them, they become easier to recognize and understand.
And, like all acts of service and kindness that we offer to others, we too are blessed. Sometimes the greatest blessing we receive is perspective and an increased sensitivity to the still, small voice.
Opportunities and obligations to serve
Consider the following New Testament admonition: “So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs” (John 21:15).
Usually when I read this verse, I think that Jesus is speaking of spiritual food. He is, of course, but He’s also instructing Peter and all of us to serve in temporal ways too. We know it’s hard for people to think about spiritual food when they’re worried about feeding themselves and their families. Or clothing them. Or keeping a roof over their heads.
Our assistance is needed at soup kitchens, food drives for local food banks, donating clothing and other items to thrift stores, community cleanup projects, assisting immigrants, and similar opportunities.
The Church’s Helping Hands program offering aid during natural disasters and emergencies is well known around the world.
During Hurricane Katrina in South Texas and Louisiana, a young man in Houston got his sons up very early every Saturday morning and took their skid steer loader and chain saws to the New Orleans area and worked until dark helping those whose lives had literally been uprooted. They did this for several, successive weekends.
Many people were helped, and the young men involved learned what it means to sacrifice and serve, blessed by their dad’s commitment and example.
We know people who have asked their bishops, elders quorum presidents and Relief Society presidents if they know of anyone needing a little extra assistance. Then, with the help of their own children they’ve made food or gift baskets for secret delivery to front doors, or have saved up and sent cash or cashier’s cheques anonymously.
A young married man was asked what prompted him to make such generous fast offering donations. He replied that unbeknownst to his father, he once watched him making out a donation slip to pay his tithing and fast offerings. Knowing of the financial struggles his family was going through at the time, he was impressed by this faithful act. He resolved to always try to follow his father’s example.
Service can be broadened to include a larger community
In addition to the many good works we can do within our circle of friends and neighbors, we can also run for office and serve on city, town or school councils, volunteer to be part of committees that organize events or fundraisers for worthy causes, and so forth.
In our small village of Stirling, Alberta, we have many people that help with our Honored Guests Party, our Settler Days parade, Beef-on-a-Bun event, the fall festival, Christmas-at-the-Kiosk, the firemen’s breakfast, and our Easter egg hunt, among other things. Members of our community of various faiths, or no faith at all, work side by side to bring to pass much righteousness.
Soon I will be joining with a group of volunteers to help with our annual cemetery cleanup. You’re welcome to join us…or a similar group in your own communities. Meanwhile I also serve on several committees within our village and there’s always room for more help.
I recognize Heavenly Father’s hand in my life. I have been given much and I’m trying to give back.
It feels good. My faith tells me the Lord knows I’m trying to love my neighbor by giving what I can.
He sees your acts of service and kindness too.