Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Good Works

            Families, communities, and nations are strengthened as individuals seek greater knowledge. This is the seventh in a series on the Young Women values. The first post in the series can be found here. It discusses the Young Women values and the Personal Progress program that assists women of all ages to develop these attributes. Each value is represented by a specific color.

            The sixth Young Women value is Good Works, and it is represented by the color yellow. This color reminds us of sunshine. Just as sunshine makes us feel warm, doing good works of service also makes us feel warm. Service always brings blessings.

            When the Prophet Joseph Smith was asked about the beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he wrote a list of thirteen different beliefs. These beliefs are known as The Articles of Faith. The thirteenth Article of Faith starts, “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men….” (Emphasis added.)

            Doing good and giving service is a basic belief of the Church. We are expected to serve wherever we see a need that we can meet. This belief is supported by other scripture. When the Savior visited the ancient American people of the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, He taught them, “Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good words and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (3 Nephi 12:16). 

            In modern times the Lord reminded the Prophet Joseph Smith that He had given all men and women their agency, the freedom to act for themselves. He also explained that He did not expect to have to command us in all things.

   For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
   Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
   For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward (Doctrine and Covenants 58:26-28).

            From these three scriptures we learn that God expects His children to go about doing good and helping their fellowmen. By being anxiously engaged and doing things of our own free will, we hold up the light of Christ and bring blessings into the lives of other people.

            A visiting teaching message from August 2002 was about helping us to find delight in giving service and doing good works. The lesson included the following quotes from Apostles and Seventies to help us better understand this challenge. Elder Robert J. Whetton of the Seventy teaches:

Jesus’ … love for us motivated His atoning sacrifice for our sins. Without His love, we would be unable to return to our Heavenly Father. How He lived His life is the example we should follow. His way should be our way. `Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am’ (3 Nephi 27:27). He showed us that we must go about doing good, that the spiritual and physical welfare of our fellowmen is as important as our own, and that we should show genuine concern and compassion for all of Heavenly Father’s children. Moroni defines Christlike love as charity. … It’s not enough to say we believe and that we love Him; we must be found possessed with His kind of love for others at that last day. It is not necessary for us to lay down our life for others as He did, but like the Savior, we should bless the lives of others by giving of what our life is made up of – our time, our talents, our means, and ourselves.

            Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles takes charity to a deeper level and broadens the importance of developing it in our lives.

We are challenged to move through a process of conversion toward that status and condition called eternal life. This is achieved not just by doing what is right, but by doing it for the right reason – for the pure love of Christ. The Apostle Paul illustrated this in his famous teaching about the importance of charity (see 1 Corinthians 13). The reason charity never fails and the reason charity is greater than even the most significant acts of goodness he cited is that charity, “the pure love of Christ” (Moroni 7:47), is not an act but a condition or state of being. Charity is attained through a succession of acts that result in a conversion. Charity is something one becomes. Thus, as Moroni declared, “except men shall have charity they cannot inherit” the place prepared for them in the mansions of the Father (Ether 12:34; emphasis added).

            President James E. Faust, then Second Counselor in the First Presidency, explains, “God knows you and what you can become because He has known you from the beginning when you were His spirit sons and daughters. What you become will depend in large measure upon how you follow righteous principles and do good works.”

            From these quotes by latter-day priesthood leaders, we learn that we can develop charity by giving service and doing good works. In other words, we must use the knowledge we have to accomplish good works, and in so doing become like Christ. This is an important lesson for children of God of all ages. Wise parents and teachers will teach the rising generation the importance of service and good works in becoming charitable and by so strengthen homes, communities, and nations.

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