Jan 21, 2015

Aren't We All Beggars?

by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Elder Holland speaks plainly and directly.  His talks always resonate with me, and leave me wanting to become better.  This talk was no exeption.

Using Christ as his example, Elder Holland invites us to, whether rich or poor, do what we can to help others in need.

"From the beginning of His ministry, Jesus loved the impoverished and the disadvantaged in an extraordinary way.  He was born into the home of two of them and grew up among many more of them. . ."

"Down through history, poverty has been one of humankind's greatest and most widespread challenges.  Its obvious toll is usually physical, but the spiritual and emotional damage it can bring may be even more debilitating.  In any case, the great Redeemer has issued no more persistent call than for us to join Him in lifting this burden from the people."

In the latter-days we've again been commanded to "look to the poor and . . .needy and administer to their relief that they shall not suffer." (D&C 38:35)

What can we do?

Don't Judge-
"For one thing, we can, as King Benjamin taught, cease withholding our means because we see the poor as having brought their misery upon themselves.  Perhaps some have created their own difficulties, but don't the rest of us do exactly the same thing?

"Are we not all beggars?"  (Mosiah 4:19)

"Don't we all cry out for help and hope and answers to prayers?  Don't we all beg for forgiveness for mistakes we have made and troubles we have caused?  Don't we all implore that grace will compensate for our weaknesses, that mercy will triumph over justice at least in our case?"

I was recently introduced to Girl With Cake.  She lives in South Africa. She reaches out to the needy by baking, decorating, and then giving away a cake almost daily.  She says:

"There's something about a beautiful, over-the-top, delicately frosted cake that, for a few moments, makes all the bad go away.  Maybe it's the time and care that goes into planning, baking, frosting and perfecting. Maybe it's because we associate cake with celebration and joy. Or maybe it's just the idea that something delicious is waiting for us.  Whatever the reason, cake brings a unique happiness that everyone deserves to feel.  So, for those less fortunate, for those who've been dealt a raw deal in life, and for those who just deserve some more love, I'll find them. And, for a few moments, they too will feel the joy of cake."

Recently, she just gave away her 41st cake.  Sometimes she gives them to the security man who has to work all day and night on Christmas, sometimes it's an underpaid city work outside sweating in the sun, but most of the time, it's a homeless person she finds out on the streets.  

She takes the time to visit with these people, to learn about them, their families, their lives.  Her BLOG is full of the personal stories of these people-  How they got where they are, what their family is like, what their hopes and dreams are.  I imagine the Savior did the same thing when he ministered to the impoverished and disadvantaged.  

The hope this girl's simple act of service gives these people is incredible.  She doesn't judge them at all.  She has compassion on them and makes each person feel important and loved.  Her Christ-like example motivates me to reach out more, and judge less.

"In addition to taking merciful action in their behalf, we should also pray for those in need."  
and then do what the Spirit prompts you to do.

"I don't know exactly how each of you should fulfill your obligation to those who do not or cannot a;ways help themselves.  But I know that God knows, and He will help you and guide you in compassionate acts of discipleship if you are conscientiously wanting and praying and looking for ways to keep a commandment He has given us again and again."

Observe the Law of the Fast-
". . .All who are physically able are to observe the law of the fast."

"I bear witness of the miracles, both spiritual and temporal, that come to those who live the law of the fast."

"Cherish that sacred privilege at least monthly and be as generous as circumstances permit in your fast offering and other humanitarian, educational, and missionary contributions.  I promise that God will be generous to you, and those who find relief at your hands will call your name blessed forever."

A few months ago, a young boy in my ward shared his testimony about the blessings that come from paying a generous fast offering.  He told about a time when his dad had just started a new business.  Money was tight and almost non-existent.  His bishop promised him that if he would double his fast offerings each month, that his income would also double.  He obeyed, and yes, his income doubled.

There are many things we can do.  The most important thing is to just do what you can - big or small.  It will make a difference.