“Service, a Divine Quality,” Ensign, May 2008, 35–37
All the things that Christ did for our salvation are unique. He was able to perform His redeeming work in approximately three years of ministry. Today I would like to highlight three purposes for the Savior’s life on earth.
The first and greatest purpose was the unrivaled and amazing assignment that He received from His Father: to carry out an infinite and eternal sacrifice for all humanity.
As Heavenly Father’s Only Begotten Son in the flesh, He inherited all of His Father’s divine qualities, and from His earthly mother, Mary, He inherited mortal characteristics.
Only His sacrifice could rescue us from our mortal and fallen state (see Alma 34:8–14). He came to the world with the specific purpose to give His life, since only His life could give us eternal life.
No other mortal being, in the past, present, or future of the existence of the earth, has lived or will live to carry out the Atonement for our sins. He is our Savior and Redeemer (see John 3:16).
He will return again to govern and rule among us with great power and glory.
The second purpose for His having dwelt among us was to teach the doctrine that He learned from His Father, which includes the ordinances and covenants of salvation and exaltation (see Mark 1:27; John 7:16).
His doctrine is one of love, forgiveness, and mercy. It is the way to live in peace and harmony among men and the way to return to live with God.
His third purpose was to build the kingdom by serving others. This was a different type of leadership. Service is a characteristic of His followers—a divine quality.
“Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
“If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
“For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you” (John 13:13–15).
He lived to preach the gospel of the kingdom and to heal all manner of sickness (see Matthew 4:23–24). To teach His doctrine and to serve our fellowmen are two responsibilities that we accepted when we were baptized. This converts us into true servants of Christ.
On one occasion after teaching His doctrine, He had compassion on the people and performed the miracle of multiplying the loaves of bread and fish and feeding the multitude, revealing to us His character of compassion and service. The next day the multitude was even greater because of the food that they had received. He taught them with determination and with eternal vision:
“Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.
“Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you” (John 6:26–27).
As a Church we should feed the hungry, relieve the sick, clothe the naked, and give shelter to the destitute. With fast offerings we alleviate the basic and immediate needs of the members, and with the welfare plan we help meet their long-term needs. When there are natural disasters, through humanitarian service we provide assistance for our brothers and sisters who are not of our faith.
Without neglecting these temporal needs, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, by commandment of the Lord, maintains the most sublime and lofty labor of service, which is to bless all men by teaching them the doctrine of Christ and inviting them to receive the saving ordinances so that they might gain “immortality and eternal life” (Moses 1:39).
I know that God loves us. He allows us to exercise our moral agency even when we misuse it. He permits us to make our own decisions.
Christ cannot help us if we do not trust Him; He cannot teach us if we do not serve Him. He will not force us to do what’s right, but He will show us the way only when we decide to serve Him. Certainly, for us to serve in His kingdom, Christ requires that we experience a change of thought and attitude.
“For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?” (Mosiah 5:13).
I testify that through serving our fellowmen we come to know the Lord.
Service makes us strong in our faith and useful in His kingdom. Service gives us purpose and courage in life. It brings us closer to God and helps us refine our divine nature. It teaches us to love and understand our fellowmen, and it helps us forget about our personal desires, eliminating selfishness, pride, and ingratitude. It teaches us to think of the needs of others, which allows us to develop the virtues that the Savior possesses.
Kindness, love, patience, understanding, and unity will increase as we serve, while intolerance, jealousy, envy, greed, and selfishness decrease or disappear. The more we give of ourselves, the more our capacity to serve, understand, and love will grow.
Those who serve will always seek to please God and live in harmony with Him. They will be full of peace; they will have a cheerful countenance and a spirit of kindness.
Those who serve will strive to ennoble, build, and lift their fellowmen; therefore, they will find the good in others, and they will not find reason or have time to become offended. They develop the virtue of praying for those who criticize. They don’t expect recognition or reward. They possess the love of Christ.
Those who serve will always be willing to share what they possess and what they know at all times, in all places, and with all people.
Those who serve even in adversity will maintain a living hope of a better future. They will continue to be firm in the midst of a crisis because their hope is in Christ.
Those who serve will accept their assignments with humility, recognizing their limitations but convinced that two people can do all things they propose to do as long as one of the two people is God.
With divine inspiration, King Benjamin declared, “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17). Those who serve will have greater understanding of the personality and attributes of God.
Those who serve with devotion, even when things don’t turn out the way they would like, are not easily discouraged, fatigued, or frustrated because the promise of peace of mind and the companionship of the Holy Spirit will never abandon them.
In the Church there are tens of thousands of members who selflessly serve in more than 170 nations in a great diversity of tongues and languages. They give unselfish service through leadership, teaching, and care of others, without salary or material reward, without applause or worldly recognition. They give of their time, their talents, and their resources; they sacrifice all that they have and serve efficiently and marvelously well. After a certain time they are released to give the opportunity of service to others.
Because of His doctrine and His service, the restored Church of Jesus Christ is constantly blessing the lives of its members. We thank God for all of you faithful Saints who have felt the joy of service, who feel it now, and who will feel this joy as you serve others. We pray that God always will bless you for it. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.