The Apostle Paul explained to the Corinthians, "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will" (1 Corinthians 12:4-11).
The question that can be asked is, why does God give different gifts of the Spirit to different people? Why not give everyone the same gifts? Perhaps we can find the answer to that question by asking another one: Why does God give gifts of the Spirit to men in the first place?
The Lord answered that question when He said, "For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby" (D&C 46:11-12).
Gifts of the Spirit are not bestowed upon us as a reward for something we have done and neither are they given to us as a mark of honor or distinction. In other words, gifts of the Spirit are not given for the benefit of the person who obtains the gift but instead they are given to individuals so that " all may be profited thereby."
We can liken this to building a house. It takes many different kinds of skills to build a house from those who know how to use a bulldozer to clear the land, a backhoe operator to dig the foundation, masons to build the foundation, carpenters to build the frame, plumbers to install the water pipes, electricians to run the electrical wiring, sheet rock workers, roofers, painters, rug layers, and many other skilled workers.
It is possible for one man to have all the skills necessary to do everything themselves but it is much easier and more efficient to have different people who are highly skilled in their own particular trade to do the work. And the same is true in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In his sermon on gifts of the Spirit Paul went on to make the analogy that just like the human body is made of many different parts (or, what he refers to as "members of the body") so also is the Church.
He went on to explain, "for the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him" (I Corinthians 12:14-18).
Each member of the body has its own specialized job to do which, without it, the body would not be able to function as well as it could. Paul's message is that the same is true in the Church. It is made up of many different members and God gives each member the kind of gift He wants a particular person to have. Then, after receiving the gift, that person is then expected to use it for the benefit of others rather than for their own benefit.
The priesthood is also a gift from God but, instead of it being bestowed on just a few people here and there, it is given freely to millions of men throughout the Church. The priesthood is defined as the power of God, delegated to man. If that is true, then why does God delegate His power to men? The answer is, so that we can assist Him in performing the ordinances that are necessary for mankind to be saved.
The ordinance of baptism is meaningless unless it is administered by someone who is authorized by God to perform that ordinance. And the same is true for giving the gift of the Holy Ghost, blessing the sacrament, conferring the priesthood, performing the ceremony of sealing, along with all the other ordinances that are necessary for salvation.
The priesthood can also be used to give a blessing of healing to those who are sick, but a priesthood holder cannot bless himself when he is sick. Like everyone else, he too must call on someone else who holds the priesthood to administer the blessing. Therefore, what we see is that, just like the gifts of the Spirit, the priesthood is given, not for the benefit of the person who holds it, but for the benefit of others.
However, unlike the gifts of the Spirit, which are given to individuals by God seemingly for no apparent reason, the priesthood is given freely to all worthy males in the church. And to be deemed worthy, a person has to be living the principles of the gospel.
In the Book of Mormon we read of a sermon Ammon gave to the people of Limhi. In his concluding remarks he said, "Thus God has provided a means that man, through faith, might work mighty miracles; therefore he becometh a great benefit to his fellow beings" (Mosiah 8:18).
Although Ammon was talking about the "interpreters" that King Mosiah possessed, which could be used to translate the twenty-four gold plates the people of Limhi had found, there is a broader meaning to this passage of scripture.
God, our Father, seeks to bless all of His children and the way He often does that is through the efforts of mortal men. Through our faith, God has provided a way to benefit the people of His church because of the gifts of the Spirit that he bestows on certain individuals. Because of the priesthood which He has delegated to mortal men, God has provided a way to save His children from their sins.
In speaking of Himself, Jesus declared, "the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister" (Matthew 20:28). Jesus did not come to earth to glorify Himself but to minister to others. His ministry was all about blessing others and His greatest act of service was sacrificing Himself to redeem the world from its sins. And so again we see how God has provided a means whereby [a] man (i.e., Jesus), through faith, might work [a] mighty miracle; therefore he becometh a great benefit to his fellowbeings."
However, it is not necessary to be endowed with certain divine gifts in order for us to be of benefit to others. Ordinary people, who have no special talents, can be a great blessing to those around them. When we fulfill our callings, especially in the capacity of a teacher, we have the opportunity to be of great value to those we serve. When we do our genealogy and do the temple work for our ancestors, we are performing a great blessing to those who have passed beyond the veil of death who are waiting for their saving ordinances to be performed. Doing missionary work is another service we can perform without being endowed with any divine gifts and those who accept the gospel receive the greatest benefit God has to offer His children.
The motto of the Relief Society is, "Charity never faileth." When we give a helping hand to a member of the church who is in need, we are not only practicing charity but be we are also providing a great benefit to someone who is struggling or is suffering. And most often, this kind of charity takes very little skill and requires hardly any divine gift in order to perform it.
In the LDS church we most generally are good about serving one another, mostly because that is our culture. The Elder's Quorum has often been referred to as the ward moving company because they are always helping members move in and out of the ward. Whenever someone is sick, the Relief Society is quick to provide meals to those who are homebound. In our ward councils we talk about those with needs in the ward and discuss how we can be of help to them. Thus, we see that God has set up His church in such a way that it provides the means whereby we can be of great benefit to our fellow beings.
But what about those who are not members of the LDS Church? Has God provided a means whereby they too can be greatly benefited? To answer this question, all we have to do is look at the gospel of Jesus Christ.
There was an incident in the life of Jesus when a man asked Him what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus asked the man what was written in the law and the man answered , "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself." When Jesus answered that was correct the man asked, "Who is my neighbor?"
The answer Jesus gave to that question was to tell the parable of the good Samaritan. The Samaritans were despised by the Jews and the Samaritans naturally didn't have very fond feelings for the Jews. For this very reason, in this parable Jesus deliberately used a Samaritan to illustrate who is our neighbor.
In the parable, a Jew had been robbed, beaten, and left for dead on the side of the road. A despised Samaritan came along and, without being asked, gave assistance to his geographical neighbor. The Samaritan didn't help the Jew in order to convert him or to gain praise, or to exact money from him. There was no other reason for the Samaritan helping the Jew expect to be of benefit to him.(see Luke 10:25-37).
In another incident, one day Jesus entered a certain village and there he met ten men who were lepers who stood afar off. These men were not members of Christ's church and nor were they disciples or followers of Him. In fact, they didn't even profess a belief in Him. Apparently they knew of His reputation for healing the sick and so they cried unto Jesus saying, "Master, have mercy on us."
Jesus didn't preach the gospel of repentance to them either before or after He healed them of their leprosy, nor did he try to convert them to His message. They asked Him to heal them and He did so out of compassion for them. We are told that the men went away rejoicing without saying a word of thanks. However, later one of the men did return to thank Jesus. Interestingly, that man was a Samaritan (Luke 17:12-18).
At another time Jesus went up to Jerusalem to celebrate a certain feast and there, by the sheep market, was a pool which, in Hebrew, is called Bethesda where the blind, the lame, and those with other afflictions waited. It was believed by them that at certain times an angel would come down and disturb the water and whoever was first into the pool after it was troubled, was healed of their affliction.
In this gathering of infirmed people was a man who had been lame for thirty-eight years. However, when the water was troubled he had no way to get to the pool so he was never healed. When Jesus saw him he had compassion on Him and asked, "Would you like to be made whole?" Jesus then said to him, "Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked" (John 5:1-9).
Jesus didn't ask the man if he had already been saved or if he believed in Him. Jesus saw that the man was in need of help and he helped him for no other reason than that.
But Jesus didn't just set the example. He also taught us how we should behave. To His disciples He told them, "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" (Matthew 5:44). The clear message is that our enemies are our neighbor and so are those who curse us and hate us and persecute us. Even to these people we should do good.
In the LDS Church, we have another set of scriptures that many people don't think of in that way and that is our hymn book. In nearly all other Christian churches some committee selects hymns that they like but in the LDS Church, every hymn has been reviewed and approved by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In a few cases, they've even changes some of the wording so that the words of the hymn accurately reflect what we believe. As such, our hymns are like little sermons that teach doctrine.
There is a hymn we sing whose first line reads, "Have I done any good in the world today?" This is a question that we are asking ourselves. It doesn't say "Has someone done any good in the world today?" We are asking ourselves, "Have I personally done any good today?
The next sentence says, "Have I helped anyone in need?" Again, this is a question we are asking ourselves but notice who it is that we are helping. It says anyone. "Anyone" doesn't mean just members of our church. It includes everyone.
The next sentence reads, "Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?" Most people think these two things are the same but they're not. A person doesn't have to be sad in order to be cheered up. The next sentence continues the thought by saying, "If not, I have failed indeed."
To smile and make someone else feel good doesn't take any special talent. If we have the gospel of Jesus Christ in our life then smiling and being happy should come naturally. If we can't do even that much we haven't just failed, we have failed indeed. We have truly failed.
The next sentence reads, "Has anyone's burden been lighter today because I was willing to share?" Again, this is a question we are asking ourselves, and it doesn't matter who has a burden. A burden can be something physical, emotional, financial, or anything else. The hymn asks us if we have helped lightened someone's burden because we were willing to share our time, our energy, or our talents.
The next sentence reads, "Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way; when they needed my help was I there?" There are five things this hymn lists that we can do to be of benefit to others - cheer up the sad, make someone feel glad, lighten someone's burden, help the sick and the weary, and provide help when it is needed.
The chorus reads, "Then wake up and do something more than dream of your mansions above." In another hymn we sing, how we are "soldiers in [God's] army [and] there's a bright crown in store. We shall win and wear it by and by" (hymn #250). We talk about being sealed in the temple so we can live forever as families in an exalted state, wearing a crown of eternal life. That is the mansion we dream of someday inheriting. But we need to do something more than just dream of that mansion above. We have to be of great benefit to our fellow beings.
The last sentence of the chorus reads, "Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure, a blessing of duty and love." Doing good to others not only brings them joy but it brings us joy as well. When we bless the lives of others we too are blessed. But that's not why we do good. The hymn specifically tells us it is our duty to do good and we do that duty out of our love for others.
How has God provided the means for us to be of great benefit to our fellow beings? By giving us the gospel of Jesus Christ because that is what the gospel teaches us to do. Jesus told His disciples, that we should be the salt of the earth and a light to the world (Matthew 5:13-16). Jesus also taught, "what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am" (3 Nephi 27:27). If Jesus went about doing things that were of great benefit to everyone, and Jesus is our example, then we are living the principles of the gospel when we are doing what Christ did.
Our church leaders have continually encouraged us to become involved in our neighborhoods and communities. But the question that many people ask themselves is, What can I do to be of benefit to others? There are two ways we can do this. The first is to do acts of service. Generally speaking, these are on-going projects rather than one-time events. They can include such things as:
*Partner with a local church and ask the pastor if there are any of his members who need a friend, perhaps like an elderly person.
*Read to children, perhaps at your local library or school or check with a local school to volunteer to help a child who is struggling in a certain subject.
*Share your skills with someone and help them learn to do something you know how to do.
*Support a local charity such as a food bank, homeless shelter, big brother/big sister, a physician service to the poor, home for troubled youth, Make A Wish foundation, etc. Support them with your time, money, or the supplies they need. Instead of making a one-time donation, adopt them and make their cause your cause.
*Ask people for used coats or other items that you can donate to a homeless shelter or other needy individuals. Repair them if needed and if possible. Or go to Goodwill and maybe once a month buy an inexpensive coat or other item that you can then donate to a shelter or keep in your car so you can give it to a homeless person when you see them.
The second way we can be of benefit to others is by doing acts of kindness. Examples of this are:
*Invite someone needy or lonely over for the holidays.
*Visit the sick through the hospital's volunteer program.
*Adopt a soldier. Make a pen pal with a soldier overseas or send a thank-you care package to a soldier overseas with a note expressing your appreciation for their service.
*Share an inspirational quote to someone who is feeling down.
*Offer to return someone's grocery cart.
*Give a nice looking thank you card to someone who has done something nice for you.
*Practice courtesy everywhere you go, especially on the highway. Let people go ahead of you
*Give everyone you meet a warm smile - create joy - make someone's day be a little happier.
Another hymn we sing says, "In a world where sorrow ever will be known, where are found the needy and the sad alone. How much joy and comfort you can all bestow if you scatter sunshine everywhere you go. Scatter sunshine all along your way, cheer and bless and brighten every [body's] day" (hymn #230). As emissaries of Christ, the least we should do is scatter sunshine all along our way in an effort to cheer and bless and brighten every body's day that we come in contact with.
The LDS Church is a strong supporter of the Boy Scout program and the Scout Law says that a scout is helpful, friendly, courteous, and kind. That should be our law as well. The Scout slogan is: "Do a good turn daily," and as disciples of Christ that should also be our slogan because there are chances to do good all around us right now! Opportunities are right in our way. Do not let them pass by, saying, Sometime I'll try, but go and do something today" and tomorrow and every day thereafter. (see Hymn #223).
As disciples of Christ, at the end of every day, we should ask ourselves the question, "Have I done any good in the world today? Have I been of benefit to my fellow beings?"
1 Tom Wynkoop, the owner of Fox's Pizza of Ligonier, in Ligonier, Penn. posted a message on Facebook offering to deliver medicine, food and essentials to anyone who has medical issues or was home-bound during the recent inclement weather. It read: "[Due] to the extreme weather conditions please call my cell phone and I will do everything in my power to have things brought to you (medications, food, etc…) NO FOOD ORDERING REQUIRED."
2 On January 7, 2014 a Fulton County Georgia man indentified only as James, walked 30 miles on the coldest day of the year (6 degrees) to traffic court to pay a ticket. His car had been totaled recently and he didn't have the money for a cab. Afraid that he'd be arrested if he didn't show up, he left his home at 1:00 a.m. so he would be at the court on time. When he was through at court he was about to leave to walk back home, when officer Andy Blimine stepped forward and offered to pay for the man's cab fare of $80.
3 Nineteen year old Brittany Mathis was an employee at Kaiserhof, a Texas restaurant, who has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. The owner of the restaurant, Michael De Beyer, "felt a moral imperative to help Brittany" pay the medical bills that were piling up on her because her family doesn't have the insurance to pay for all of them. So De Beyer decided to sell his 6,000 square foot restaurant and donate the money to Brittany.
4 19-year-old Vlad Yanstev was diagnosed with brain cancer three years ago. He recently found out his tumor is terminal and learned that he likely only has months to live. Because of the treatment associated with his cancer, the teenager never had the chance to attend a high school dance before graduating. But his friends weren't going to let him die without the experience. As KARE-TV reported, Yanstev's friends organized a special dance just for the Minnesota teenager. Surprising him in front of dozens of friends at a country club, Alex Clark asked Yanstev if he would be her date for the evening. "I was wondering if you would be my date to the first annual Vlad-Daze," she asked. "Alex, that sounds incredible," Yanstev replied. "Yes!" Throughout the evening, even teachers came by to have their photograph taken with him. Yanstev was overwhelmed.
5 Lee Ballantyne lost his wife, Carol, just before New Year's Eve. They had been married 43 years. A week after her death, he went to Cicco's Ristorante north of Toronto to eat alone. While there the widower saw something that brought memories of Carol flooding into his mind - a couple sitting next him who reminded Ballantyne of his marriage of nearly half a century. He took a napkin and wrote on it, "Hi, you don't know me but my beautiful wife of 43 years died last week. Tonight I dined alone for the first time. You remind me of us many years ago. Please allow me to buy your dinner. Enjoy! It will put a smile on Carol's face and make me happy… for now. Happy new year!" Ballantyne gave the note to the waitress and asked her to put the couple's bill on his credit card. The waitress asked Cicco's owner Lindsay Weiss to assist in bestowing the note to the pleasantly surprised couple who were beyond touched and grateful.
6 A welcome letter from a kind neighbor was posted on the door of a woman who just moved into an apartment. The Letter first provides this new neighbor with "a page of helpful numbers" and the trash collection days. He then gave her some helpful tips about the heating system and outdoor water facet. Then he wrote, "I know getting settled can be crazy so dinner is on me. I am enclosing a gift card (from Applebees) so you can have an evening without having to worry about cooking."
7 Shanell Mouland boarded a Philadelphia-bound plane out of Orlando in January, 2014 with her family, which included her husband and two pre-school daughters, one of whom named Kate has autism and doesn't like to sit for long. For that reason Shanell was worried that Kate would make the trip uncomfortable for everyone on the flight. When businessman Eric Kunkel sat down next to them on the plane, Kate immediately started reaching for him and calling him "Daddy." Instead of ignoring Kate, Kunkel put down his work and spent two and a half hours during the flight playing games with the preschooler, calming her and keeping her busy with pictures of his puppies. The simple act of kindness brought such extraordinary relief to Shanell that several days later she penned a post on her blog titled "Dear Daddy in Seat 16c Flight 1850 from Philly." She wrote, "You could have shifted uncomfortably in your seat. You could have given her that smile that I despise because it means 'Manage your child, please.' … Thank you for entertaining Kate so much that she had her most successful plane ride yet. And thank you for putting your papers away and playing turtles with our girl." Mouland's blog entry became a global sensation, getting more than 70,000 likes on Facebook. It took one day for the blog post to reach Kunkel, an IT executive and married father of one in Villas, N.J.
Return to main menu