God is loving and kind. That is who and what He is, and He is willing and able to answer our prayers, and show His love when needed. Just like he did for Bonnie. God exemplifies love and commands us to love others because He knows that we cannot return to Him, or become like Him, unless we love like him.
Read Matt. 22:35-40
Note that Christ didn’t mention the 10 commandments, the Word of wisdom, or anything else, because every other commandment is really a subset of the 2 commandments to love God and to love our neighbor.
How many of you remember the talk given in Stake conference 2 weeks ago by Dennin Walk, the 1st 9 year-old I’ve ever heard speak in stake conference. He spoke about a “buddy bench” at his school and how he liked to keep an eye on it. I can’t do justice to his talk. He was hilarious and insightful. For those that missed the talk, the buddy bench is a bench near an elementary school playground where you can go sit if you need a friend, or someone to play with. The young man said he often checked the buddy bench and told a story of inviting a girl on the buddy bench to play handball and how he ended up with a new friend and helped her make some friends. Why does he watch the buddy bench? because he’s keeping the 2nd commandment. I bet we all wished at one time or another for a buddy bench. Knowing many of the youth in our ward, I imagine many of you are like that young man; aware of those sitting on the buddy bench.
With my wife’s permission, I’d like to share a similar story. A few weeks ago, my sweet wife Mimi, was having a difficult week, and was unusually sad. So she did what many of us do when we’re feeling a little down. She went to Trader Joes. While she was there, she experienced a tender mercy from the Lord when a sweet young girl she knew bounced up to her with a big smile on her face glad to see Mimi. The young woman probably didn’t even realize it, and my wife struggled to describe it, but she communicated love with very few words. It wasn’t just her smile, or her “bounce”, it was just a feeling of love and joy that immediately lifted Mimi’s spirit. A young woman had seen my wife, and the spirit had inspired her. The girl’s purity and love were immediately communicated, and it was the little boost Mimi needed to start pulling herself out of her dark day. How many of us exude love and light like a child, and are willing to regularly share it?
Most of us have entered the waters of baptism and made a covenant with God to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; 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…
I hope we all remember a time when someone has reached out and lifted us when we’re down.
Mosiah 4:14-15 And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness.
But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another. It is clear to me that you are teaching our children to watch the buddy bench and reach out and love others when they see a need.
Elder Holland said, “We have a heaven-sent opportunity as an entire Church to demonstrate “pure religion … undefiled before God”—“to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light” and to “comfort those that stand in need of comfort,” to minister to the widows and the fatherless, the married and the single, the strong and the distraught, the downtrodden and the robust, the happy and the sad—in short, all of us, every one of us, because we all need to feel the warm hand of friendship and hear the firm declaration of faith.”
We all need a lift at some time or another.
Yesterday, as I was writing this talk, I took a few minutes to think back on the countless people that have lifted, encouraged, and ministered to me. Some are in this audience, some have lived in this stake, others in Washington, Texas, and South Carolina wards where Mimi and I have lived and raised a few children. All were disciples of Jesus Christ that loved, sacrificed, and taught me by example. Perhaps the greatest example was a home teacher. In Washington state we had 5 boys under 8 years old and no dishwasher. When our home teacher would come visit, he would go straight to the kitchen and start washing piles of dishes. He wouldn’t stop until they were done. Did that offend you Mimi? I didn’t think so.
Five years ago, the church retired the Home and Visiting teaching programs. However, it was not replaced with another program. As President Nelson said, “We have made the decision to retire home teaching and visiting teaching as we have known them. Instead, we will implement a newer, holier approach to caring for and ministering to others. We will refer to these efforts simply as “ministering.”
Last week the YW and RS gathered together to discuss ministering. As usual, the men will follow the women’s pattern and do the same next Sunday.
What is ministering? Simply put it is keeping the 2nd commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. It is caring enough about others to find out their needs, and then trying to meet them. It is an organized way to take care of one another. It is absolutely not limited to those to whom we are assigned, but rather expanded to all those we may meet. It may be as simple as a smile and a glad greeting. It may be much more, but it is Not another program. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ in action. It is pure love. It is Susan making a beautiful flower crown for Bonnie before she left on her mission. It’s Wyatt endlessly swinging Riggs and Rhett. It’s Eric taking sister Udell the sacrament every week. It’s Beau helping his friend replace a water heater that suddenly dies. It’s Pat helping paint an entire house in less than a day. It’s the thoughtful note and goody from Merilee. It’s Robbie and Michael surfing at dawn in 56 degree water and a weak swell to show someone how important they are. It’s birthday calls from Tim Miller. It’s a thank you note from Mary. It’s a smile from Glenda. It’s a hug from Julie. It’s Nikki doing your dishes without asking. It’s Kathy’s chocolate cake. It’s Becky peppering your lawn with Birthday wishes. It’s John helping your mom in the Family History Center. It’s a thoughtful gift from Barbie. It’s a hug in the temple from Erin that says, I really love you. It’s Lonnie picking up 200 Hawaiian roles in Torrance and saying, don’t worry, we got your back. I have left out many. And that’s just a few of the things I’ve recently experienced.
Strangely, we often think ministering is about lifting others, but the reality and beauty of Gods plan, is that ministering saves us. When we minister to others, we are also beneficiaries! We grow spiritually. We find real joy. We begin to see the worth of souls. We begin to understand how God loves his children including those that don’t listen to him. We love more, and the Lord enlarges our capacity and fills our wells.
What better way to prepare to meet Him than to strive to become like him through lovingly ministering to one another! Jesus Christ taught His followers at the beginning of this dispensation, ‘If thou lovest me, thou shalt serve me.” Our service to others is a demonstration of discipleship and our gratitude and love for God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
I love when Camden Porter said last week, “I believe Christ”. I do believe Christ, and I believe we show our love for God when we serve Him. King Benjamin said when we are in the service of our fellow beings, we are in the service of our God. And so it is that as we keep the 2nd commandment we also keep the 1st commandment.
Matthew 5:43-46 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
John 15:12-13 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Romans 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
Gal. 5:13,14 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Eph. 3:17-19 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
1 Thes. 3:12 And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:
1 john 3:23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
1 John 4:7,8 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
Mosiah 2:4, 4:15 And also that they might give thanks to the Lord their God, who … appointed just a just man to be their king, who had established peace in the land of Zarahemla, and who had taught them to keep the commandments of God, that they might rejoice and be filled with love towards God and all men.
Mosiah 4:14-15 And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the devil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness.
But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.
Alma 38:12 Use boldness, but not overbearance; and also see that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love; see that ye refrain from idleness.
Mor. 7:47-48 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him. 48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God;
D&C 12:8 And no one can assist in this work except he shall be humble and full of love, having faith, hope, and charity, being temperate in all things, whatsoever shall be entrusted to his care.