We have been told that society in the last days would display some of the social symptoms that existed in the time of Noah... His neighbors were apparently very disobedient to the commandments of God, and the earth was “corrupt,” and significantly, society then was “filled with violence” (Genesis 6:11). Violence and corruption usually occur because of selfishness. In a time like this, how fitting it is that we focus on service to our fellowmen! The Lord said in the sermon on the Mount: “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:14–16.)
Service to others deepens and sweetens this life while we are preparing to live in a better world. It is by serving that we learn to serve. When we are engaged in the service of our fellowmen, not only do our deeds assist them, but we put our own problems in a fresher perspective. When we concern ourselves more with others, there is less time to be concerned with ourselves! In the midst of the miracle of serving, there is the promise of Jesus that by losing ourselves, we find ourselves!
“President Kimball Speaks Out on Service to Others,” New Era, Mar 1981, 47
President Kimball in the following story shows how a simple act of service, resulted in so much good.
It was a stormy winter night. At the airport in Chicago, Illinois, many people were stranded due to delayed or canceled flights. A young pregnant woman stood in the long check-in line, nudging her two-year-old daughter forward with her foot.
Many people made disapproving comments, but no one offered to help.
Man: Why doesn’t she pick up that screaming child?
Woman: What a terrible mother.
With a kind smile, Elder Kimball walked up to the
Elder Kimball: Can I help you?
Mother: Thank you.I’ve had four previous miscarriages. My doctor told me I can’t lift anything—not even my own child.
Elder Kimball picked up the crying child, rubbed her back, and gave her a piece of candy. When the girl was comforted, he informed the other passengers and the airport workers of the woman’s condition.
Airport worker: We’ll have you on the next available flight.
Supervisor: Come and sit and rest until your departure.
The woman’s stress was lessened. Later, she saw a picture of Elder Spencer W. Kimball of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Mother: That’s him! That’s the man who helped me.
A few months after that, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy.
Twenty-one years later, President Kimball received a letter. It was from the son of that young mother.
Student: I served a faithful mission and am now a student at Brigham Young University. Thank you for helping my mother that terrible night!
President Kimball was happy that his small act of service had resulted in so much good.
“A Simple Act of Service,” Friend, Sep 2007, 44–45
President Eyring, in the October 2008 Friend, teaches us how to give the most meaningful gifts.
It was a summer day. My mother died in the early afternoon. My father, my brother, and I had gone from the hospital to our family home, just the three of us. We fixed ourselves a snack; then we talked with visitors. It grew late, dusk fell, and I remember we still had not turned on the lights.
Dad answered the doorbell. It was Aunt Catherine and Uncle Bill. I could see that Uncle Bill was holding a bottle of cherries. I can still see the deep red, almost purple, cherries and the shiny gold cap on the jar. He said, “You might enjoy these. You probably haven’t had dessert.”
We hadn’t. The three of us sat around the kitchen table, put some cherries in bowls, and ate them as Uncle Bill and Aunt Catherine cleared some dishes.
As nearly as I can tell, the giving and receiving of a great gift always has three parts. Here they are, illustrated by that gift of cherries.
First, I knew that Uncle Bill and Aunt Catherine had felt what I was feeling. They must have felt we’d be too tired to fix much food. They must have felt that a bowl of home-canned cherries would make us feel, for a moment, like a family again. I can’t remember the taste of the cherries, but I remember that someone knew my heart and cared.
Second, I felt that the gift was free. I knew that Uncle Bill and Aunt Catherine had chosen freely to bring a gift. The gift seemed to provide them joy in the giving.
And third, there was sacrifice. I knew that Aunt Catherine had canned those cherries for her family. They must have liked cherries. But she took that possible pleasure from them and gave it to me. That’s sacrifice. But I have realized since then this marvelous fact: it must have seemed to Uncle Bill and Aunt Catherine that they would have more pleasure if I had the cherries than if they did.
Great gift giving involves three things: you feel what the other feels, you give freely, and you count the sacrifice a bargain.
God the Father gave His Son, and Jesus Christ gave us the Atonement—gifts of unfathomable depth and value for us. Jesus gave His gift freely, willingly to us all. One of the sure signs of a person who has accepted the gift of the Savior’s Atonement is a willingness to give.Henry B. Eyring, “How to Give,” Friend, Oct 2008, 2–3