When I teach in Church, I often have a sloppy outline I work from. This is that. You're welcome to glean from it what you may (pun intended).
Let's bust out our scriptures.
Someone find and prepare to read the last half of Isaiah 58:3 and someone else find and prepare to read the last, oh, third of D&C 59:13.
Let's keep these scriptures in mind as we move on.
Berkeley Ward's feeding of the sailors in a time of rationing.
The expenditures of the Welfare Program---where does it all come from?
Last year our stake was $190,000 in the hole, FO-wise. Anyone want to guess which direction welfare payments are headed this year? I don't have data, but anyone want to guess? Will the stake give our more or less cash and food this year than last?
None of us have given as dearly as the widow who gave up her last mite. Nor, indeed, are we asked to. Nor, I suspect, was she.
If we were flooded with hungry, lonely sailors, would we be prepared to love and serve them?
What sacrifices are we willing to make?
If fast offerings don't hurt a little, are they still a sacrifice?
We're going to try something a little different today. (I'm not sure this should surprise you. I seem to have a defect in my personality manifested by the need to do things differently.)
I'm handing out a fact sheet now. On the right side is some interesting factual schtuff you're welcome to look at. But on the left side are the Welfare Program's Basic Principles.
The first one, you will notice, explicitly states the scriptural basis for this injunction. Someone look that up for us.
Let's read the principle, then the scripture.
Okay. Now, here's what I want to do. We're going to break into group of two to four people and each will take one of these principles and I want you to find scriptures that illuminate your principle and enlighten our understanding thereof. Try to find two or three. Some will be easier than others. I'll give you a few minutes, then I'll ask each group to read their principle and share what scriptures they found and any minirevelations they had while seeking (and thus finding) within Holy Writ. And don't forget our opening verses and the connection with joy.
If I need more:
The natural disposition of man, as I have often remarked, is to be selfish, sordid, and grasping; to think of self, and self alone, and figure for personal advancement. But all the teachings of the Gospel are the exact opposite of this. We find that the requirements that are made of us to pay tithes and fast-day donations … and to contribute of our means to send the Gospel to the nations of the earth—these requirements chase out of the heart of man every selfish and sordid disposition. Instead of being selfish, the faithful Latter-day Saint is filled with the love of the Gospel, filled with a desire to contribute of time and means for the onward advancement of the kingdom of God. The Gospel, if we are faithful to the requirements that are made of us of a financial nature, takes the selfish, sordid man, and makes of him a generous, noble, free-hearted individual. … The Gospel fills us with a desire to leave the things of the world, if need be, to go to the uttermost ends of the earth, without one dollar of reward, for the benefit and salvation of our fellow men.
Let me warn the Latter-day Saints to buy automobiles and to buy the ordinary necessities of life when they have the money to buy them, and not to mortgage their future. … I want to say to you that those who discount their future, who run into debt for the ordinary necessities of life and for the luxuries of life, are laying burdens upon themselves that will come back with compound interest to cause them great trouble and humiliation.
I believe that people are blessed in proportion to their liberality. I am not saying that they always make more dollars, perhaps, than the other man. But so far as an increase in the faith and in the testimony and the knowledge of the divinity of the work in which we are engaged, men that are honest with the Lord in the payment of their tithing grow as men never grow that are not honest. There is no question in my mind. Moreover, I am just foolish enough to believe that the Lord magnifies those who do pay their tithing and that they are more prosperous, on the average, than the men who do not. I believe that to those who are liberal [with their donations] the Lord gives ideas, and they grow in capacity and ability more rapidly than those that are stingy. I have that faith, and I have had it from the time I was a boy.
We must be honest with the Lord. The great trouble is that there are many people who, as they grow and increase in the things of this world, set their hearts upon them and lose the Spirit of the Lord. Therefore, that which is counted by the world as success is failure; because if a man starts out for a prize and he fails to secure it after laboring nearly a lifetime for that prize, certainly his life has been a failure. I know many individuals who, when they made small sums of money, were absolutely honest with the Lord, and paid one-tenth of it. But when they made large sums of money they paid all the way from one percent, instead of ten, up to two or three percent. What is the matter? Why, the appetite for money grows upon a man, increases and strengthens unless he is careful, just as much as the appetite for whiskey. It gets possession of him, and he loves the money instead of loving it only for the good that he can do with it. He does not estimate properly the value of things.
I heard a story of a brother (I have forgotten his name now) who attended a meeting in the early days. President Brigham Young made an appeal for donations to send to the Missouri River to help the Saints gather to Zion. He wanted everybody who could afford it, to give an ox or a cow or any other donation. One good brother jumped up and said, “I will give a cow.” Another brother got up and said, “I will give a cow.” The first brother had two cows and a large family; the other brother had a half-dozen cows and a small family. And, so the spirit [of the devil] came over the first man, [saying,] “Now, look here, you cannot get along with your large family; you cannot possibly get along with one cow. Now, that other man has got a small family and six cows; he could just as well give two or three and still get along all right.” As he started home, he walked four or five blocks, all the time getting weaker and weaker. Finally he thought, “I guess I won’t,” and then he realized the difference in the spirit that was tempting him and the one that had prompted his promise to the President of the Church that he would give a cow. Here was a spirit telling him to fail to fulfill his obligation, to fail to be honest, to fail to live up to his promise. He stopped short and turned around and said, “Mr. Devil, shut up or just as sure as I live, I will walk up to Brother Brigham’s office and give him the other cow.” He was not tempted any more.
here should be in the heart of every man and woman, the cry, “I am going to live. There is nothing given to me but time in which to live, and I am going to endeavor each day of my life to do some labor which will be acceptable in the sight of my Heavenly Father, and if it is possible, do a little better today than I did yesterday.”
Second, we need to appraise our own lives. How well are we listening to the Spirit? Are we living according to the eternal truths and doctrines of the restored Church of Jesus Christ? Can we effectively appraise the needs of others by the prompting of the Spirit? It impressed me that Muhammad Yunus must have been prompted by the Spirit when he organized a very unusual bank in Bangladesh, which some have said was the beginning of microfinance. When Yunus, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his efforts to help the poor, was asked what his initial strategy would be, he responded:
“I didn’t really have one at the time. I simply began trying to help with my own funds, then went to the banks and asked them to get involved. They refused for several stated reasons, and thus my strategy began to evolve into: ‘Whatever the bankers did, I simply did the opposite.’ The bankers would only lend to the rich. I would only lend to the poor. The bankers would only make large loans. I would only make very small loans. The bankers would only lend to men. I would only lend to women. The bankers would only lend if there was collateral. I would only lend without collateral. The bankers required extensive paperwork. I only made loans that even an illiterate could understand. The bankers required their clients to come to the bank. I took my bank to the village.”5
It should be noted that the banks expected a high rate of loan defaults. Yunus expected and experienced almost none. I understand that Mr. Yunus’s bank has provided more than $4 billion in loans and is entirely self-sustaining. Surely the Spirit of the Lord guided this noble effort.
Ben Franklin: “We stand at the crossroads, each minute, each hour, each day, making choices. We choose the thoughts we allow ourselves to think, the passions we allow ourselves to feel, and the actions we allow ourselves to perform. Each choice is made in the context of whatever value system we’ve selected to govern our lives. In selecting that value system, we are, in a very real way, making the most important choice we will ever make.
Those who believe there is one God who made all things and who governs the world by his Providence will make many choices different from those who do not. Those who hold in reverence that being who gave them life and worship Him through adoration, prayer, and thanksgiving will make many choices different from those who do not. Those who believe that mankind are all of a family and that the most acceptable service of God is doing good to man will make many choices different from those who do not. Those who believe in a future state in which all that is wrong here will be made right will make many choices different from those who do not. Those who subscribe to the morals of Jesus will make many choices different from those who do not.”
Here's the choice facing us, to quote Zechariah---
Zech 8:18 Thus saith the Lord of hosts; The fast of the fourth month . . . shall be to the [Berkeley Ward] joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace.
The fast of the fourth month will be upon us when next we meet. What choice will we, on that day, make? And assure you, brethren, that it is, "in a very real way, . . . the most important choice we will ever make."
last week's svithe