2021
The Way to Joy in this Life
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Local Leader Message

The Way to Joy in This Life

“I love the people that I serve, and I always serve the people that I love!”

We all have scriptures that we use more often than others, sometimes called our favourite scriptures. One of these for me is “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he”1. One of the things this scripture does for me is encourage me to have my own informed imagination of what the future I desire needs to be like.

In line with this, I invite you to imagine the following place with me:

A place where inhabitants have “all things common among them; therefore there [are] not rich and poor, bond and free.”2

A place where “There [are] great and marvelous works wrought by the disciples of Jesus, . . . and all manner of miracles [do] they work among the children of men; and in nothing [do] they work miracles save it [is] in the name of Jesus.”3

A place where inhabitants “walk after the commandments which they [have] received from their Lord and their God, . . . and . . .

“. . . there [is] no contention among all the people, in all the land.”4

A place where “There [are] no robbers, nor murderers, neither [is there any racism or tribalism] . . . ; but they [are] in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God”5.

I hope you would feel like I do that this is a place to yearn to live in. However, some of you may be thinking: “Wake up! Such a place has never existed and will never exist.” Will they be correct in this? Hopefully in thinking about that question, both the city of Enoch and the land Bountiful—where the Nephites were visited by the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ—would come to mind.

How can we create such place? Does the whole world need to be on board for this to happen or can we even just have it in our own homes—at least for a start? As you ponder these questions, please remember what President Russell M. Nelson has taught recently: “The heavens will open as [we] seek to know how to move forward. [We] do not need to wander or wonder.

“If you have sincere questions about the gospel or the Church, as you choose to let God prevail, you will be led to find and understand the absolute, eternal truths that will guide your life and help you stay firmly on the covenant path”6.

These questions lead to a gospel doctrine which, if well understood, will change our lives and grant us even more of the joy promised in the scriptures. The doctrine I am referring to is encapsulated in the Lord’s two great commandments: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

“This is the first and great commandment.

“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

“On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets”7.

In fact, the whole gospel of Jesus Christ is built on love!8

As always, our understanding is shown more by the things we do than the things we say. Consequently, to attain to the place we imagined earlier—starting with our homes—we need to actively participate in Heavenly Father’s “work and . . . glory—to bring to pass [our] immortality and eternal life” by loving and serving our brothers and sisters9. Personally, I have found that loving and serving are interchangeable as one leads to the other. In effect, I love the people that I serve, and I always serve the people that I love!

It is amazing how these two feed on each other in a self-fulfilling and righteous cycle. President Nelson has taught that “when we love God with all our hearts, He turns our hearts to the well-being of others in a beautiful, virtuous cycle. . . .

Giving help to others—making a conscientious effort to care about others as much as or more than we care about ourselves—is our joy. Especially, I might add, when it is not convenient and when it takes us out of our comfort zone. Living that second great commandment is the key to becoming a true disciple of Jesus Christ”10.

Here are two other teachings of modern-day prophets:

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “It is a time-honored adage that love begets love. Let us pour forth love—show forth our kindness unto all mankind”11.

President Howard W. Hunter (1907–1995) taught: “The world in which we live would benefit greatly if men and women everywhere would exercise the pure love of Christ, which is kind, meek, and lowly. It is without envy or pride. It is selfless because it seeks nothing in return. It does not countenance evil or ill will, nor rejoice in iniquity; it has no place for bigotry, hatred, or violence. It refuses to condone ridicule, vulgarity, abuse, or ostracism. It encourages diverse people to live together in Christian love regardless of religious belief, race, nationality, financial standing, education, or culture”12.

I conclude with the following teaching from President Russell M. Nelson: “When we speak of gathering Israel on both sides of the veil, we are referring, of course, to missionary, temple, and family history work. We are also referring to building faith and testimony in the hearts of those with whom we live, work, and serve. Anytime we do anything that helps anyone—on either side of the veil—to make and keep their covenants with God, we are helping to gather Israel.”13

He referred to this as “the most important work in the world!”14

Loving and serving others are key not only to moving the work of salvation and exaltation forward, but also to how much joy we will experience in this life independent of the challenges and even trials we face. I pray that the Lord will bless us with a deeper understanding of His righteous doctrinal truths.

S. Ephraim Msane was called as an Area Seventy in April 2019. He is married to Nomthandazo Salvatoris Mpanza; they are the parents of two children.