Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Farewell talk

This is the talk I gave on Sunday.
This is a very important doctrine in the church.  In John chapter 21, versus 15 through 17, we read the following:
 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, aFeed my sheep.
 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, aFeed my bsheep.”
A wise teacher once told me that there are three separate translations for ‘love’ in Hebrew.  There is love for oneself, love for family and love for man.  Jesus emphasized this third kind of love when he told Simon Peter “feed my sheep” three times.
To love your fellow man is to offer service.  It is one of the main principles of our church (why else would we willingly send our young men out on missions?).  When asked which commandment is the most important, Jesus answered saying “Thou shalt alove the Lord thy God with all thy bheart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy cmind.  This is the first and great acommandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt alove thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the alaw and the prophets.”

Service should not be considered a “I did my good deed for the day” type of situation.  The thought to serve others is a continual practice; we should always be looking for opportunities to assist others.  And never should we help anybody for the purpose of self-gratification or reward.  President Kimball addressed this and similar issues in a talk he gave in March of 1981.  He stated:
“May I counsel you that when you select causes to devote your time and talents and treasure to, be careful to select good causes. There are so many of these causes to which you can give yourself fully and freely and which will produce much joy and happiness for you and for those you serve. There are other causes, from time to time, which may seem more fashionable and which may produce the applause of the world, but these are usually more selfish in nature. These latter causes tend to arise out of what the scriptures call “the commandments of men” rather than the commandments of God. Such causes have some virtues and some usefulness, but they are not as important as those causes which grow out of keeping the commandments of God.”
Service comes in many forms.  It doesn’t have to be something big like helping a friend move or rebuilding a porch.  Help somebody with a church lesson, open a door for somebody, give food for the elders...  The church offers many opportunities to serve—the soup kitchen being a prime example.  The possibilities are endless! 
And so are the blessings you will receive from god.
In the same talk, President Kimball touched on this.  He said:
“In serving others, we “find” ourselves in terms of acknowledging divine guidance in our lives. Furthermore, the more we serve our fellowmen in appropriate ways, the more substance there is to our souls. We become more significant individuals as we serve others. We become more substantive as we serve others—indeed, it is easier to “find” ourselves because there is so much more of us to find!”
Christ set the perfectly example for us; he spent most of his mortal life in the service of others.  Two years seems like a pale comparison to that.  Indeed, serving a mission isn’t the only form of service we can render for the church or others.  Charity, sacrifice and service go hand-in-hand.  Charity is the pure love of Christ and therefore the pure love of mankind.  How better to show our love for Christ than to show our love for others?
Jesus emphasizes this concept several times in the scriptures.  In Mosiah chapter 2: “And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn awisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the bservice of your cfellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” 
The hymn and poem “the poor wayfaring man of grief” is a wonderful example.  In the poem, it speaks of a man who is down on his luck.  Another man finds the poor man and takes care of him, feeding him, sheltering him and choosing to sleep on the floor so that the poor man may rest in comfort.  The more-fortunate man is even willing to trade his own life for the poor man’s.  The poor man reveals himself to be none other than Jesus and says: “Of me thou hast not been ashamed.  These deeds shall thy memory shall be, Fear no, thou didst them unto me.”
This famous poem is based on the events in Mathew chapter 25: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
To love god is to love man.  To love man is to offer service.
Service requires more than just physically assisting somebody.  In a talk given in November of 1984, Elder Dallen H. Oaks had this to say (and I quote):
“When we think of service, we usually think of the acts of our hands. But the scriptures teach that the Lord looks to our thoughts as well as to our acts. One of God’s earliest commandments to Israel was that they should love him and “serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deut. 11:13.) When the prophet Samuel was sent to Bethlehem to choose and anoint one of the sons of Jesse as a new king for Israel, the Lord told him to reject the first son, though he was a man of fine appearance. The Lord explained, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7.)”  End quote.
He further stated:
“Numerous scriptures teach that our Heavenly Father knows our thoughts and the intents of our heart. (See D&C 6:16; Mosiah 24:12; Alma 18:32.) The prophet Moroni taught that if our works are to be credited for good, they must be done for the right reasons. If a man “offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.”
I am very thankful for the service in this ward.  Every day I see great examples of caring men and women who devote their precious time in order to help those around them.  I know the bishopric has missed many hours with their families in order to serve us, and I cannot give enough thanks.
My faith in this church has been strengthen by all of you—especially my young men leaders—who weren’t just my ‘leaders’ but my friends.  Service can be as simple as being a friend.  Be there with somebody, through thick and thin.  You friendship helps more than you realize.
I’d like to express my thanks for the service that was rendered when my Mama Jean was in the hospice house.  I appreciate the men and women who were there to make her last moments comfortable and for each and every one of you who visited her.  We greatly appreciate it and we could not have done it without you.
And to my parents.  My loving parents; who have always been there for me—lending me support, teaching me, raising me up to who I am now.  I love them so dearly and I hope to do them proud.
I hope to do you all proud during my time away.  I hope to do the lord proud as I serve my fellowmen—as I serve him.

Of course my testimony isn't in there, so you're missing out.