President Howard W. Hunter taught that the Savior "gave us His love, His service, and His life...We should strive to give as He gave." Most particularly, President Hunter encouraged church members to follow the Savior's example of charity in their everyday lives.
Acts of charity were a defining aspect of Howard W. Hunter's career in the legal profession. A fellow attorney explained: " He spent a lot of his time giving [free] legal service... because he just did not have the heart to send a bill...He was perceived as a friend, guide, counselor, and a professional who was much more concerned about seeing that people got the help they needed rather than get compensated for it."
An old axiom states that a man "all wrapped up in himself makes a small bundle." Love has a certain way of making a small bundle large. The key is to love our neighbor, including the neighbor that is difficult to love. We need to rember that though we make our friends, God has made our neighbors--everywhere. Love should have no boundary; we should have non arrow loyalties. Christ said, "For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same?"
In an important message to the Latter day Saints in Nauvoo just one year before his tragic and untimely martyrdom, the Prophet Joseph Smith said: "If we would secure and cultivate the principles of union and friendship in their midst." (HIstor of the Church, 5: 498-99.)
That is magnificent counsel today, even as it was [then]. The world in which we live, whether close to home or far away, needs the gospel of Jesus Christ. It provides the only way the world will ever know peace. We need to be kinder with one another, more gentle and forgiving. We need to be slower to anger and more prompt to help. We need to extend the hand of friendship and resist the hand of retribution. In short, we need to love one another with the pure love of Christ, with genuine charity and compassion and, if necessary, shared suffering, for that is the way God loves us.
...Charity encompasses all other godly virtues. It distinguishes both the beginning and the end of the plan of salvation. When all else fails, charity--Christ's love--will not fail. It is the greatest of all divine attributes.
The world in which we live would benefit greatly if men and women everywhere would exercise the pure love of Christ, which is kind, meek, and lowly. It is without envy or pride. It is selfless because it seeks nothing in return. It does not countenance evil or ill will, nor rejoice in iniquity; it has no place for bigotry, hatred, or violence. It refuses to condone ridicule, vulgarity, abuse, orostracism. It encourages diverse people to live together in Christian love regardless of religious belief, race, nationality, financial standing, education, or culture. The Savior has commanded us to love one another as he has loved us; to clothe ourselves "with the bond of charity" as he so clothed himself. We are called upon to purify our inner feelings, to change our hearts, to make out outward actions and appearance conform to what we say we believe and feel inside. We are to be true disciples of Christ.
"Wherefore, who so believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world...
"In the gift of his Son hath God prepared a more excellent way."
Monday, September 5, 2016
If life and its rushed pace and many stresses have made it difficult for you to feel like rejoicing, then perhaps now is a good time to refocus on what matters most.
One of the characteristics of modern life seems to be that we are moving at an ever-increasing rate, regardless of turbulence or obstacles.
It is said that any virtue when taken to an extreme can become a vice. Over scheduling our days would certainly qualify for this. There comes a point where milestones can become millstones and ambitions, albatrosses around our necks.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks, in a recent general conference, taught, “We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families.”
The search for the best things inevitably leads to the foundational principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ—the simple and beautiful truths revealed to us by a caring, eternal, and all-knowing Father in Heaven. These core doctrines and principles, though simple enough for a child to understand, provide the answers to the most complex questions of life.
As we turn to our Heavenly Father and seek His wisdom regarding the things that matter most, we learn over and over again the importance of four key relationships: with our God, with our families, with our fellowman, and with ourselves. As we evaluate our own lives with a willing mind, we will see where we have drifted from the more excellent way. The eyes of our understanding will be opened, and we will recognize what needs to be done to purify our heart and refocus our life.
First, our relationship with God is most sacred and vital. We are His spirit children. He is our Father. He desires our happiness. As we seek Him, as we learn of His Son, Jesus Christ, as we open our hearts to the influence of the Holy Spirit, our lives become more stable and secure. We experience greater peace, joy, and fulfillment as we give our best to live according to God’s eternal plan and keep His commandments.
Our second key relationship is with our families. Since “no other success can compensate for failure”here, we must place high priority on our families. We build deep and loving family relationships by doing simple things together, like family dinner and family home evening and by just having fun together. In family relationships is really spelled time. Taking time for each other is the key for harmony at home. We talk with, rather than about, each other. We learn from each other, and we appreciate our differences as well as our commonalities. We establish a divine bond with each other as we approach God together through family prayer, gospel study, and Sunday worship.
Thursday, August 11, 2016
I love to visit and I love to teach, but for some reason, I just don’t like doing them at the same time. As years have passed though, I’ve grown to love visiting teaching with all of my heart. Through the service of others and sharing friendships, my life has been filled with their beauty and my testimony has increased. Every sister can truly be a gift and a light in our lives. One of my favorite lines from the Broadway musical Wicked sums up visiting teaching for me: “Because I knew you I have been changed for good.”
As a lover of art, I’m intrigued by how simple sand, transformed by fire, creates glass. There’s a mystery to glass; it’s a form of a gas, liquid, and solid all at once. How complex! Way over my head. Once formed, glass captures light and glows from within. Depending on its use, glass can be referred to as a sliver, a shard, a piece, or a pane. Pieces of glass, arranged by a skilled craftsman, can transform a pane into the most beautiful illuminated art. Created out of thousands of little pieces carefully cut and placed together, they combine to make a masterpiece. I’m often asked where I get my creative talent. I’m never quite sure how to respond because I’ve always felt it was a gift from God. But one day I answered, “It’s in my genes. My Father is very creative. He created color, and I love it too.” I received a perplexed look, so I went on to say, “He created you too! Isn’t He amazing? How different we all are. Individual masterpieces, all daughters of God; all so different, but oh so divine!”
His vision for us is greater than we would or ever could plan for ourselves. Our testimonies become the framework for that stained glass pattern God has visualized for each of us. The best craftsmen know that in order to be strong, the solder for the framework must be built up over time. We learn this principle in the scriptures as “line upon line and precept upon precept.” Over our lifetime, our own unique design becomes a distinguishable pattern, full of color, formed from all of our experiences. As we serve others, God’s light is magnified through us. Our testimonies increase and we become more like our Father. Visiting teaching gives us the opportunity to add other glass pieces into our design, making who we are, richer, brighter, and more beautiful.
What is our motivation to visit or be visit taught? Are we doing it with a willing, cheerful heart, or are we going through the motions? Do we visit teach because we know we’ll be called and asked for our report? Or do we do it out of the pure love we have for our sisters? Are we rushing to get it marked off our to-do list, or are we finding a way to constantly gear our service to them and fulfill their needs? Elder David A. Bednar talked about overcoming the mind and changing our heart. He said, “The gospel…encompasses much more than avoiding…sin…. It…essentially entails doing good, being good, and becoming better....To have our hearts changed by the Holy Spirit.…This mighty change is not simply the result of working harder or developing greater individual discipline. Rather, it is the consequence of a fundamental change in our desires, our motives, and our natures made possible through the Atonement" (“Clean Hands and a Pure Heart,” Ensign, November 2007). So, if our hearts are truly changed, we will go visiting teaching for the right reasons.
We receive our testimony of visiting teaching by doing it the best we can. This testimony might not happen overnight and usually requires many years of service to achieve. To borrow the imagery used in our last conference from Elder Bednar, this experience may not be like a light switch, turned on instantly, but more like a sunrise, happening gradually over time. If you’ve had a powerful experience as a visiting teacher or teachee, one that’s truly affected you, then you know how it can change lives. But how do we gain a testimony like that? You gain it by opening your own spiritual toolbox. Like a true craftsman, there are four simple tools. First, love. It’s as simple as that—just love. As Mother Teresa said, “Do small things with great love.” We convert with love. We all want to feel understood and needed, accepted and loved.
Tool number two, pondering. Reflect on your sister. What would God have you do? As we read and ponder the scriptures, our minds become inspired. Passages take on different meanings as we apply them to those we serve. Look for topics to discuss or assistance the scriptures can offer for each sister. You will be enlightened. The next paragraph in the Handbook reads, “They seek personal inspiration to know how to respond to the spiritual and temporal needs” (emphasis added). If a sister struggles to open her home, could we respond by meeting her for lunch, or at the park, discussing a book at the library? Since we are all so busy, could we maybe exercise together to fulfill a temporal need? Yes! Could we build friendships as we walk and talk down the street? Likely! And don’t forget, it’s okay if your companion can’t go at the same time you can. Maybe she can go on another day without you!
Third, pray. Pray to be filled with God’s love. If you are struggling, pray for a stronger desire to serve. Pray to know the divinity of your calling as a visiting teacher. If the sisters you are assigned to visit are hard to love, pray and ask Heavenly Father to teach you what He loves about them so that you can learn to love them too. Pray for your companion’s heart to be softened if she is choosing not to participate. Pray for insight into your sister’s needs. Pray for the heavens to be opened for her. Ask the Lord, “What is my part in Thy plan for this sister?” God’s help is available for even the smallest problem.
Fourth, revelation. Be ready and worthy to receive revelation to help your sisters. Draw close to the Savior because without revelation, we cannot succeed in this effort. Sister Beck teaches us the “The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life” (“And Upon the Handmaids in Those Days Will I Pour Out My Spirit,” Ensign, May 2010). It is truly a skill, built over time.
Now that we have our spiritual tools, we need to do. We might start by doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, but over time, by doing, our hearts will become softened and change. As we grow, understand, and mature in the gospel, we will consistently do the right things for the right reasons. As we choose His way, he offers this promise: I will “make weak things become strong unto them.” Our testimonies of visiting teaching are not going to just magically appear without any effort on our part. Can you think of at least one thing you can do which will enhance or change your visiting teaching experience? Come up with a plan of action. Make an honest effort. Prepare to make sacrifices, be patient and longsuffering, for it might be a difficult task that requires much time. The Savior said, “Unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them” (3 Nephi 18:32).
If you only remember one thing today, remember love. Have hands that serve and hearts that love. Love those you visit. Love your companion. Love those who visit you. Let every colorful piece fall into place in your own beautiful mosaic.
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
We can, if we live worthy of it, have the blessing of the Spirit to be with us, not only now and then, as in such remarkable experiences as we’ve had today, but always. You know from the words of the sacrament prayer how that promise is fulfilled: “O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them.”
Monday, June 20, 2016
“To those who have transgressed or been offended, we say, come back. To those who are hurt and struggling and afraid, we say, let us stand with you and dry your tears. To those who are confused and assailed by error on every side, we say, come to the God of all truth and the Church of continuing revelation. Come back. Stand with us. Carry on. Be believing. All is well, and all will be well. Feast at the table laid before you in The Church ofJesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and strive to follow the Good Shepherd who has provided it. Have hope, exert faith, receive—and give—charity, the pure love of Christ.”1