Being a Good Neighbor
A talk given by Shane R. Brown
During a Sacrament Meeting 6/09/2019
Let’s start off with the basics. I am a child of God. You are a child of God. We are all His beloved sons and daughters. God, our true and perfect Father, has sent us away, to school us on how to work, serve others, and be missionaries, bringing the gospel covenants and blessings to all His children. This is why we are here.
To love, serve, teach, associate and bless each other. To laugh and have joy and peace together. All through the righteous teachings of the gospel of our Savior Jesus Christ, through His gifts of the atonement, administered through the Holy Ghost, and further through the Gift of the Holy Ghost.
Consider this quote from Elder Uchtdorf from his April 2019 talk, entitled, Missionary Work: Sharing What Is in Your Heart. He says:
Laugh with them. Rejoice with them. Weep with them. Respect them. Heal, lift, and strengthen them.
What a great opportunity for all of God’s children, to reconnect on why we are here. To rekindle in our souls, the sacred work of lovingly gathering safe, all of God’s children into His fold and kingdom, that we also may return to His glory.
And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!
These are our true brothers and sisters, whom we already know, love, honor, and respect, and they need us more than anything, and we them! What we offer them in Christ, are the most important, significant and incomprehensible blessings they could ever possibly receive, and without it, the unthinkable.
So how do we love and give this gift to others? Through missionary work, teaching and service. It is also in this service that our spirits grow and mature. Jesus Christ spoke very emphatically about loving service when He talked about true religion, as is found in Matthew 25:37-40, that we obtain charity, the highest saving virtue, and grace, to obtain the Kingdom of God.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, 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.
In pure missionary work is service. As missionaries, young men and women receive a letter of calling, in which they are called to serve in such and such a mission.
I believe that as members of our Savior’s church, the word for service and missionary work combined, is ministering. These two things together really are our call from the Lord as our stewardship, for our ministering efforts needed in the field of service, are not limited by anything earthly, nor by any geographical location. I am a missionary. You are a missionary. We are all called to serve.
I’m going to read Doctrine and Covenants 4, in the which I will add commentary for applicable context.
Now behold (or, at this very time, look into a vision of what I’m saying, and remember, Jesus Christ is speaking to and calling us), a marvelous work (or a work the whole world will greatly marvel at and be aware of), is about to come forth among the children of men (or among us, with the children of men, through God’s help).
Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God (or you, as you set a course of service for our fellow beings), see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day (this means that we must serve with all our capacities combined, to be readily equipped for the salvation of souls, for we cannot be saved without being member ministers. We must also remember, that as children of the covenant of Abraham, we already have the blood stewardship of everyone upon us so as to answer the call, we must.) Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work; (There it is, your official letter of calling from the Lord).
For behold (or look upon your life openly, and see the lambs in your life, which you can minister to, feed and love), the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul; (we cannot be saved unless we share, prepare and help others accept and live the gospel. Then we must continually feed His sheep once they have entered His fold. This works best when all of us feed one another through ministering and gathering together to partake of the sacrament, and other righteous activities).
And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God (or in other words, in every endeavor, our eyes being fixed upon the Lord, in that we do things for Him, and with Him), qualify him (or her) for the work. Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence (and I would add, obtaining these things through feasting upon the words of Christ, for this shall help us develop these virtues).
Ask, and ye shall receive; (asking the Father to help us have these ministering experiences, and to help us magnify them), knock, and it shall be opened unto you (this is the success factor! It doesn’t mean they will join the church right away or in this life, but you have successfully helped plant a seed, or a desire to do so, as in the beautiful account in Alma 32).
We hear this theme of ministering repeated in the mission statement of the church, in the perfecting of the saints through serving and living the gospel. Redeeming the dead, and ourselves through family history and temple work, which when aided through missionary work on the other side of the veil, makes this efficacious. Proclaiming the gospel throughout all the earth, sounding the gospel in every ear, helping people know of the love and goodness of Christ through our efforts, and finally, taking care of the sick and needy through service and ministering.
This brings to light again, this very important truth. Missionary work and service together, truly are the embodiment of, and true form of ministering. We are bringing together everything the Lord has blessed us with to give, and ministering in the Lord’s way.
For example, if we bring a need to the attention of the Bishop, Elder’s Quorum President or Relief Society President, then administering and ministering can take place. In such a circumstance, a quorum or relief society can engage in bringing assistance to these needs, and filling them will be a manifestation to others of the Lord’s true church, functioning after the order of the Son of God. To truly be His disciples.
We are not to bury our talents, but to bring them forth, opening the door of opportunity and salvation to the rest of the world. Why else are we here!? Doing these things will in turn open the door of our salvation. For in no other way can we be saved, but by bringing others with us, through doing as Jesus would do. Our mandate will not be complete, unless we are true member ministers, through being active missionaries, loving and serving, and standing in for the Lord. In essence, becoming other’s true friends, and developing meaningful, lasting relationships with them.
When I look at the world around me, and all the people I meet and observe, one thing always comes to mind. None of us really have it all together in and of ourselves. No one is a professional at anything. We take ourselves way to seriously. We are all fallen, and a far cry from who we need to be. But, as we lay down our pride, put aside our self inflicted agenda, and forget ourselves, mercifully following the will and Spirit of the Lord, by steadfastly living the gospel with the Gift of the Holy Ghost, we will grow in the purposes of the Lord, and His use and care, and His privileges and blessings will sanctify and purify us, making us justified and confident in the presence of God our loving Father. He will, as in the parable of the talents, use us to do great things. Together we can do more.
Let me emphasize that we really do need each other. I believe that we shouldn’t wait to participate in redemptive acts of service and ministering, until we are of a certain personal stature. Greatness comes not from individual effort alone, but because we are willing to expose our weaknesses, and allow our burdens to be borne. This goes for everyone.
None of us are complete without each other. We need one another! My plea, is that we acknowledge our imperfections, and begin to fill in the gaps we all have, by standing in them for each other. What do we have to lose? Not a thing. What do we have to gain? Everything. In this there is true greatness, happiness, peace and reward. Let us be one, serve the Lord, learn to see the world as a world of opportunities, and, as it states in the Old Testament, esteem others as greater than ourselves, that we may do as He did, and live as He lived. I know we can bring about this change, and prepare the world for our Lord’s triumphant return. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.