“Joyful Service to Others,” Ensign, Dec. 1992, 53
As Relief Society sisters, we have celebrated this sesquicentennial year of 1992 by serving others. Acts of unselfish giving and warm affection have taken place all over the world. This display of charity is a fitting culmination of Relief Society’s first 150 years.
President Elaine L. Jack defines charity as a personal attitude: “Instead of thinking of charity as a list of guilt-imposing musts, think of it as the quality correctly defined in the scriptures as the pure love of Christ—something personally validating and glorious, something peaceful and joyful, too.”
A pair of sister missionaries trudged the streets of a city in northern Spain. On that gray, rainy day, no one showed an interest in their message. As the two neared the city park, Sister Silvia Golithon noticed that most of the people in front of them were women. She felt the whisperings of the Spirit tell her, “These are your sisters.” She later wrote of the event, “A feeling of light entered my mind.” She recorded that the Spirit helped her more clearly understand the worldwide sisterhood found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
As President Ezra Taft Benson has said, “The pure love of Christ seeks only the eternal growth and joy of others.” (Ensign, Nov. 1986, p. 47.) Expressing the love of Christ to others in diverse ways becomes a glorious mission for us all.
Serving others helps us respect and love them. Loving others brings us closer to the Lord. In living close to the Lord we discover our own self-worth. Lydie Strasburg of Tooele, Utah, declares that for her, “No other feeling in the world compares to touching, teaching, and treating wounded souls. I’m thankful for the knowledge that by going outside of ourselves we strengthen our inner spirit and truly come to know who we are.”
How does our attitude toward others influence the way we serve?
When a young mother in South Africa recently became terminally ill with cancer, the sisters in the ward rallied around her family, supplying meals on an almost daily basis. They cared for her children, and as the young mother became more ill and depressed, her Relief Society sisters took turns staying with her in her home until evening when her husband returned from work. When this young mother had to go to the hospital, her Relief Society sisters continued to remain at her side. One sister sat at her bedside and gently coached her breathing as congestion filled her failing lungs. They were with her and her family when she died.
Says one woman who joined in this charitable work, “She left behind a sisterhood greatly saddened, yet unified and strengthened by their opportunity of service and love.”
The first members of Relief Society in Nauvoo in 1842 organized Committees of Necessity to seek those in need and share what they had. President Joseph Smith predicted, “This is the beginning of better days to the poor and needy, who shall be made to rejoice and pour forth blessings on your heads.” (History of the Church, 4:607.) It was indeed the beginning of better days, for his time and for ours too. Historically, Relief Society women have fed the hungry from their wheat storage, saved lives through their nursing and hospital care, and sent emergency supplies to disaster areas. Now in each area of the world, Relief Society sisters, in small ways and large, offer loving help to their neighbors. We invite all sisters to make the attitude and actions of charity a continuing part of our lives.
How can charity become a continual way of feeling and acting?