“Searching the Scriptures: How to Make a Lasting Contribution,” Ensign, Nov. 1973, 40
With maturity comes a desire to make a lasting contribution in life and to be doing significant things. The scriptures tell some ways in which this can be done.
We read that “whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it. …” (Eccl. 3:14.) We also read that “the works, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught. … Remember, remember that it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men.” (D&C 3:1, 3.) “For the eternal purposes of the Lord shall roll on, until all his promises shall be fulfilled.” (Morm. 8:22.)
In contrast to the Lord’s work, the things man does are often temporary and fleeting—especially the worldly things.
The old Preacher, stating things from the worldly point of view, said: “I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards: … I got me servants … ; also I had great possessions of great and small cattle. … I gathered me also silver and gold, … So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me … [and] my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour.
“Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity [temporary or insecure] and vexation of spirit. …” (Eccl. 2:4, 7–8, 9–11.)
“Therefore I hated life. … Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun. … Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all [my] labour. … For what hath man of all his labour … ?” (Eccl. 2:17–18, 20, 22.)
After further observation he concluded that “there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works” (Eccl. 3:22), for “how dieth the wise man? as the fool” (Eccl. 2:16), for “time and chance happeneth to them all” (Eccl. 9:11).
The foregoing gives a dreary point of view of a man without the gospel of Jesus Christ who sees things as they appear to be “under the sun” or from human understanding.
Since the business of man is temporary in nature, the way to make a lasting contribution is to do the business of the Lord. This is done in filling assignments in the Church: “Wherefore, as ye are agents, ye are on the Lord’s errand; and whatever ye do according to the will of the Lord is the Lord’s business.” (D&C 64:29.) Fortunately the revelations of the Lord guide men into labors that enable them to make everlasting contributions.
For example, in missionary work, the Lord says:
“… many times you have desired of me to know that which would be of the most worth unto you.
“… behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father.” (D&C 15:4, 6.)
“And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!
“And now, it your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me … how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!” (D&C 18:15–16.)
Salvation for the dead is another way in which we make contribution to the business of the Lord: “… let me assure you that these are principles in relation to the dead and the living that cannot be lightly passed over, as pertaining to our salvation. For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, as Paul says concerning the fathers—that they without us cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect.” (D&C 128:15.)
“… the earth will be smitten with a curse unless there is a welding link of some kind or other between the fathers and the children, upon some subject or other—and behold what is that subject? It is baptism for the dead. …” (D&C 128:18.)
“Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. … and let us present in God’s holy temple … a book containing the records of our dead, which shall be worthy of all acceptation.” (D&C 128:22, 24.)
Not only is teaching the gospel to the nations and laboring for departed ancestors important, but the most lasting contribution is made through the family in one’s own children. Like begets like, and as Jesus said, “… every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. … Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matt. 7:17, 20.)
If such is true of plants, it is equally true of parents and children. The fruits perpetuate the contribution of the parent tree.
Men and women can also make a lasting contribution by helping relieve the burdens of the sufferer and the unfortunate, for “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” (Mosiah 2:17.)
“When the Son of Man shall come in his glory,” he shall say unto them on his right hand, “… 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 … ?
“And [he] 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.” (Matt. 25:31, 34–37, 40.)
To make a lasting contribution one must be willing to work, but “it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.” (Mosiah 4:27.)
However, it is not necessarily the big and “showy” things that count (most of us may not have an opportunity to do renowned things), but that is of little matter, for “we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things.” (1 Ne. 16:29.)
He has said: “… by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; … And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls.” (Alma 37:6–7.)
If you want to make a lasting contribution, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. …” (Matt. 6:19–20.)
“… And inasmuch as men do good they shall in no wise lose their reward.” (D&C 58:28.)
“Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.” (D&C 123:17.) How then does one make an enduring contribution in his life?
“Now, as you have asked, behold, I say unto you, keep my commandments, and seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion.
“Behold, I speak unto … all those who have desires … ;
“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.” (D&C 12:6–8.)