Comer: We should make serving others a top priority
Last week, I was walking my two sons to school in the driving snow. Walking to school has become a necessity as of late because the transmission in my car faltered. Thankfully, it’s less than a mile walk, but in the snow, it’s not particularly pleasant.
About halfway there, a woman from the Latter-day Saint ward I attend pulled up next to me. She was driving her daughter to the same school, so she offered to take us.
It was an extremely charitable gesture, and one that reminded me of a simple principle. We are inclined to help when we see those in need.
On more occasions than I can count over the years, I’ve been inspired by the many acts of kindness and service from others. I think what’s been most impressive to me as I reflect on those moments is that in no situation can I remember it ever seeming like a burden to the person providing the service. They simply recognize help needs to be provided, they have the capacity to do something about it and they take action.
That is how it felt about a year ago when a leak resulted in water damage to the basement of the place where I was living. I scrambled to see who could help, and within minutes, someone from the ward I was in brought over a wet and dry vacuum. He helped me move furniture and pull up carpet and padding. As if all that wasn’t enough, he reached out to his neighbor, who was a professional carpet cleaner. Within a few minutes, that person brought over a heavy-duty fan. I kept remarking how grateful I was for the help, and especially that it was provided so quickly, but I didn’t feel like they thought I had imposed upon them all that much. They had an opportunity to help, they had the means to do so and so they did.
When we serve others, we are serving Jesus. This is what is said in the gospel of Matthew.
“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:35-40)
Perhaps you’ve read this and thought, “That all sounds great if you have time to help others. But I’m so busy, and I can barely find time to take care of my own problems. How could I possibly find time to help others?” The reality is that we become better human beings through helping others. This necessarily helps those we serve become better human beings as they see our example. Consider the following words by Carlos H. Amado, who spoke at the April 2008 general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
“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.”
Who could read all those blessings and not want to immediately find as many people to help as possible? There is certainly no shortage of opportunities, and I believe a God who loves all of us and wants all of us to be happy will help us see how we can help, no matter what our situation is.
Contact Ryan Comer at firstname.lastname@example.org.