During His ministry on the earth, Christ spent His time serving and helping others. True disciples of Christ do likewise. The Savior said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).
As I see it, there are two kinds of service: one, is the service we do as we fulfill our Church callings; the other, is the service we willingly give to those around us, because we (are taught to) care.1
So, what exactly is service?
In Mosiah, we learn that meaningful service means to “bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light,” to “mourn with those that mourn,” and to “comfort those that stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18:8-9).
The Savior is the best example of service. Even though He came to earth as the Son of God, He humbly served all those around Him. He declared, “I am among you as he that serveth” (Luke 22:27).
The Savior used parables to teach the importance of service. In one parable, He tells of His return to the earth in His glory and of separating the righteous from the wicked. To the righteous in this parable He says: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 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” (Matthew 25:31-33, 34-36).
The righteous, who are puzzled by this declaration, ask: “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?” (Matthew 25:37-39).
Then the Lord answers, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).
In order to do service, we must have charity. Charity, the pure love of Christ, goes beyond caring for our own. In the sermon on the mount, the Savior gave this great insight: “If you love them that love you, what reward have you?” (Matt 5:46) To me this means that we should reach out to those beyond our little circle of friends and family, even though this is harder to do and takes greater effort. 2
However, “if we are serious about our discipleship, [Christ] will eventually request each of us to do those very things which are most difficult for us to do.”3
President Ezra Taft Benson has counseled: “If you would find yourself, learn to deny yourself for the blessing of others. Forget yourself and find someone who needs your service, and you will discover the secret to the happy, fulfilled life.”
Service changes people. It refines, purifies, gives a finer perspective, and brings out the best in each one of us. It gets us looking outward instead of inward. It prompts us to consider othersâ€™ needs ahead of our own. Righteous service is the expression of true charity, such as the Savior showed.4
Opportunities for service to others are limitless. Smile more. Be kind to those you meet. Kind words and deeds can lift burdens and gladden hearts. Sharing the gospel is a great service with eternal [rewards] (consequences). When we see a need we should fill it promptly!2 One true key to happiness is to labor for the happiness of others.6 And as we do so, our lives, as well as [others] be blessed.
As President Benson says, “Therefore, let us serve one another with brotherly love, never tiring of the demands upon us, being patient and persevering and generous.”7
Your capacity for service is in “your [ability] to give of your time, your means, your energy and your love to bring joy to and brighten the lives of others.”8
I pray that we “[g]o forth with determination and vigor to do the Lord’s work, to enlighten, to strengthen and to make lighter the burdens of others.”8