Talk given by Elder Peterson in church Huntington Beach, CA before his mission to Tacoma, WA.
Good morning brothers and sisters, I'm Brother Peterson, soon to be Elder Peterson, and I've been called to serve in the Tacoma Washington mission I report tomorrow. I’ve also been asked to talk on Alma 1:30, a scripture of service and charity. It reads, “And thus, in their prosperous circumstances, they did not send away any who were naked, or that were hungry, or that were athirst, or that were sick, or that had not been nourished; and they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, whether out of the church or in the church, having no respect to persons as to those who stood in need”. The Church and its people were in a time of prosperity because of their righteousness. It was quite an ideal time, even if it wasn't perfect, because the church still faced persecution from those outside of it, and there was still poverty and sorrow. However, this was remedied by the prosperity of the church and the actions of its members. They imparted everything liberally to anyone in need of blessings. Whether it be their money, their time, or their talents, they used their blessings freely to help bless everyone else. They withheld their service from no one, bond or free, male or female, in the church or outside the church, giving unto all regardless of circumstances. Through this giving, they were made even more prosperous.
Verses 29 and 31 explain how through their steadfastness in the gospel, they received blessings, and then by using those given blessings to serve, they became exceedingly prosperous. So, as we serve others and give our blessings, we can receive more blessings in return. This principle can also be seen in the parable of the talents, which goes: A lord gave talents to 3 servants. 5 talents to one servant, 2 to another, and 1 to the last. Talents, in context, were a measurement of weight for currencies and gold, but
this message also works if you see them as regular talents or blessings we've been given. The parable goes that the servants with 5 and 2 talents went and doubled them through using them, while the servant who only received one went and hid his talent, afraid to use even the small amount he received. By not sharing it, he had no increase. When we look at this parable with the idea of serving and giving blessings, we learn that sharing our blessings with others and serving brings us more! We can then use these to continue to serve people, and, if we impart of our blessings unto others, they’ll be given blessings to use for their own service, causing their blessings to multiply, and causing someone else to receive more blessings, making a ripple effect of service and blessings!
We should all seek to be as charitable as the Nephites were at this time, freely serving and helping everyone. Some of us may have fewer blessings to share than others, but even if we’re given one talent, we can still use it, and what better way can we return these blessings to the one who gave them to us than serving Him, for “if we are in the service of our fellow being, we are only in the service of our God,” and wouldn’t we want to serve the person who gave us everything? We should want to actively seek to serve, and this is reinforced by doctrine and covenants 58:27, which says, “Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;”
I myself am going to be actively engaged in service by serving a mission. I have a testimony of this church, and I want to serve a mission for a few reasons, but it almost always boils down to serving and spreading blessings through Christ. I’m eager to do the Lord's work and share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others, bringing people to this
Church where I’ve gained my own testimony and found happiness and truth. I can’t wait to be able to serve others in need of help and to immerse myself in the light of this gospel. The only difference between being in the mission field and out of it, is that on the mission, I won’t have the same type of worldly distractions. Dedicating two years of my life to serving and bringing to pass much righteousness is what I’ll be doing, and while it might be what some of you have done or will do later in your life, there are still so many other ways to serve that we can all do at this time. Whether it’s donating to help organizations, such as the donations to Laura’s House recently called for by the Relief Society or the donations the church makes to different charitable foundations. Whether it’s serving our fellow members, friends, family, and strangers outside of the church, or even simply cleaning the church on Saturdays, there are a lot of services that can and needs to be done. I’ve seen so many examples of charity from this ward, such as the priests bringing the sacrament to people’s houses during the pandemic,
members coming to help clean parks or helping people move, or even the smaller things such as assisting friends in rougher situations without prompting. This ward and stake have done so much, and we shouldn’t stop there. We should strive for perfection, for charity which is the pure love of Christ, even if it’s something we can’t achieve in this life, it’s something we should get as close to as possible. I testify that as we serve others, and impart our blessings, God will bless us according to his will. As the Nephite prophet Jacob says “But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God. And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to ado good - to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.”
And so, my brothers and sisters, I leave you with this message: Go throughout life with a genuine, happy smile. We've been blessed in so many different ways, seen or unseen, and who are we to set our hearts upon these graciously given gifts? We all have our own trials, but so does everyone else, so why should we wish our own trials away and ignore the needs and wants of others? God has blessed us all with this life, some of us have more earthly trials than others, but we should strive to take this blessing of life given to us by God, and use it to strengthen and uplift others in their own lives! Don't withhold any surplus from *anyone* in need, in the church or out of the church, homeless or homeowner, young or old. Because as we share our own blessings, we will be given even more, and we will light up others’ lives in a way that may be so desperately needed. And always, *always*, remember that when you are in the service of your fellow being, you are in the service of your God.
I bear my testimony that I know this church is true. That we have a living prophet on the earth today who receives revelation for the whole church. That Joseph Smith was a true prophet who restored the Church and translated the Book of Mormon. And that Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of our heavenly father, atoned for our sins and prepared the way for our eternal salvation. I say these things, in the name of Jesus Christ,