By Beth Wright
A few years ago, our family experienced what I now call our “summer of service.” My husband Kerry and I, along with our fifteen-year-old son Steven, would spend Sunday afternoons ministering to several of our friends who had a family member fighting cancer. I would often go inside and visit with the family while Kerry and Steven would mow, weed whack, and do other clean up in the yard. We served our friends over and over that summer to offer support. Even in the middle of great trial, all experienced love, and in that love, we experienced joy. It was a summer never to forget.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we know that our lives are never all about ourselves. Rather, we try to follow Jesus Christ who taught, “Whomsoever will be great among you, let him be your minister” (Matthew 20:26, all references KJV).
“For God loveth a cheerful giver,” taught Paul in 2 Corinthians 9:7. What is it that makes a cheerful giver? It’s love. Love for God, and love for His children. Maybe it’s because our hearts become more like our Heavenly Father’s as we take the name of Jesus Christ upon us and strive to follow him. “Caring for others, physically and emotionally, requires an unselfish and sensitive heart. It is an important part of the gospel [of Jesus Christ],” teaches Neil L. Anderson, an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Mother Theresa taught that helping others with love is the key to making a difference. “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love,” she said. “The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.”
In addition to helping others with love, Mother Theresa recognized that every small thing we do to help another is important. Of her own work she taught, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop…. If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”
Near the end of Jesus’ ministry, a woman came to minister to him with a “very precious” ointment. She poured the ointment onto Jesus’ head. Some saw this as a waste of precious resources that could have been used to help many other people. Yet Jesus corrected them, saying that she was serving him with what she had: “She hath done what she could.” (See Mark 14:3-9). In our quest to help others, we can do whatever is within our means and ability.
When I was visiting my Arizona hometown last May, a large group of immigrants from Central America crossed the border into this small community. I was humbled to see the community and the churches in the area gather to sustain these desperate people. My sister’s congregation volunteered to serve meals. My family and many others donated goods. The churches and the red cross in the area provided food, clothing, and facilities in conjunction with the city. Regardless of political persuasion or opinions, the people of the community rallied to sustain impoverished, desperate people. And they did it with love.
My friend Jonathan recently gave a can of soda to a local panhandler. His friend reprimanded him, showing a photo of a fancy black pickup and said, “this is the nice pickup he parks a few blocks away. He’s making money.” My friend’s reply? “I’m happy to share.”
If we have a desire to help others by sharing our love, time, friendship, or means, we can ask God for his help. “[God] will … guide [us] in compassionate acts of discipleship if [we] are conscientiously … praying and looking for ways to keep a commandment He has given us again and again,” taught Jeffrey Holland, an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Let us do what we can—however small our act of kindness may be, and let us help others with love in our hearts, “that [we] may be the children of [our] Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:5).
Beth Wright loves long summer days, a good hiking trail, and being with her family. She believes in Jesus Christ and loves being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.