What Do Mormons Believe: Thoughts on Service

by
February 17, 2011

Jesus Raising Jarius' DaughterThis last week a question was received asking about service, a pretty broad topic to be sure.  As I’ve pondered what to write in response, I kept thinking about how important the principle of service is in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  In Mathew 25:31-46, Christ teaches us a little about the final judgement.  He makes it clear how much our standing will depend on the service we give others.  In verses 34-40, He addresses those who have filled their lives with service,

“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked and clothed thee?

Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren ye have done it unto me.”

What strikes me most in these words is the attitude of these righteous people.  They served without thought of what they would get out of it.  They even seemed surprised that they were being rewarded for their acts of kindness.  Christ spent His life this way – compassionately serving those around Him – and has commanded us to follow His example (3 Nephi 12:48, Mathew 5:48).

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the first sacred promise we make is at baptism.  This promise is to follow our Savior’s example of service and act as He would.  In return, we are promised forgiveness for our sins and help through the gift of the Holy Ghost as we repent.  Alma, a great missionary and prophet in the Book of Mormon, describes this promise and our commitment to follow Christ (Mosiah 18:8-10),

“And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they my be light:

Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life-

Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?”

Serving others as selflessly as Christ did takes practice for me.  However, as I keep trying I can feel the Savior’s love for those I’m helping, and I develop a more Christ-like love for them too.  I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and that His atonement is the greatest act of service and love anyone could do for us.  He truly is the perfect Examplar.

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2 Responses to “What Do Mormons Believe: Thoughts on Service”

  1. Aaron

    I respect the principle of service and I hope I have done a goodly amount in my life, yet I confess that the word repels me. When I hear or see the word, my first thought is the draft. Young men used to get drafted into the military. Most didn’t want to go in. If they had wanted to go in, they would have enlisted. A second reaction I have is that I don’t actually see or hear the word “service.” What I hear or see is the word “assignment.” A third reaction brings the concept of make-work to mind, as in helping Br. Jones who is worth a few million move because he is too cheap to pay professional movers. True service to me is the guy in my ward who drove all day to rescue a family in distress whose car had broken down three states away, brought the wife and kids home and left the husband with some money to help pay for the needed repairs on his car. Nobody asked him to do that and few people in the ward knew he did it.

  2. Bus Gillespie

    Good comment Aaron.  I also see a couple of inconsistencies in the institutionalized service that we at times are assigned to do.  Besides what you pointed out is the concept of tit for tat, or anticipating blessings in return for service to others.  Working with the youth I have coerced a number of them to show up for a service project with treats or the idea that they will feel good about themselves.  I have also seen some projects where the leaders do the work while the youth mill about and complain about being there….But getting back to Jodi’s point, true service is done because one sees a need and fills it.  Sometimes it takes some organization like when an elder’s quorum last year helped a family re-roof their house, often it is a private act of just visiting an older lonely neighbor.  True service has its rewards (I’ve never heard anyone complain about doing true service) and sometimes we have to pull some teenagers out of bed or away from their WII’s in order to get them to glimpse the feeling of love associated with true service, in the hope that they will gain the deeper understanding of what Christ was teaching us.