Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Why (only) give in December?
The other day I bought a delicious sleeve of Quaker oatmeal cookies (the apple and honey kind). Zone Conference had lasted almost the entire day and when we left I had to think twice if we had actually ever eaten. I carefully examined the third one as if asking, "how is it possible that cookies can be so good?" when out of the corner of my eye I saw an old hiking backpack--the kind with metal poles as supports--on the corner of an entrance to a bank. In the split second that I had to think before looking up the thought crossed my mind, "poor guy, that´s probably all he owns". Then I looked up and saw the backpack´s owner, and without a moments hesitance I heard, "do you have two pesos?" What had before been pity somehow turned to annoyance and I casually told him I had nothing and kept walking. As we stepped into the intersection I heard him say something like, "oh come on, you have food!" I realized in the middle of the street what an awful mistake I had just made. We waited on the other corner for the lights to change and I embarrassingly walked back to face him. I gave him the sleeve of cookies and apologized and made my way back across the intersection to wait for the bus. I started asking myself, why was my first reaction to just ignore him? What would have happened if he wouldn´t have said anything back? How can I call myself a representative of Jesus Christ? I know you all might think I´m a terrible person now haha, but I think we often find ourselves in similar situations. These are my thoughts: Why give? Mosiah states it pretty clearly, "And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the begger putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish" (Mosiah 4:16). I don´t think it gets much more clear than that. It´s actually necessary if we wish to retain a remission of our sins, "For the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God--I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor...both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants" (Mosiah 4:26). Johns says, "But whoso hath this world´s goods, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth" (1 John 3:17-18). My thoughts were practically the same. Do we profess to be followers of Jesus Christ in word, or do our deeds reflect our faith? The folly of judging Matthew says, "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again"(Matthew 7:1-2). Mosiah talks about it specifically about how we judge those who are less fortunate than us, "Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just-- But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth his the same hath great cause to repent..." (Mosiah 4:17-18). I think sometimes the idea given by Mosiah of "the man has brough upon himself his misery" can also be something like "the man will bring upon himself more misery if I give him what I have." Both of the judgements are pretty similar. I´ve asked myself, "why are we willing to give to a white-bearded man outside of Walmart at the sound of a bell while hesitant to help an untrimmed man under a bridge or sitting at a street corner?" I think our judgements are the only reason we would give in one situation and hold back what we have in the other. Mosiah makes a great point, "For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have?" (Mosiah 4:19). Give of your love That is what Christ´s whole message is, is it not? Like Mosiah says, we do this by administering to their temporal AND spiritual needs. I´m running out of time but I think we all can think of ways to better give of our love. Paul asks, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" (Romans 8:35). Let´s give our love to those around us lest we become the broken link in helping someone else feel the love of Christ. With all the love of a sleeve of cookies, Elder Lounsbury