Charity Is Core of the Gospel, President Uchtdorf Tells Inner City Missionaries

Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer

  • 5 December 2015

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, speaks at a fireside for the Salt Lake Inner City Mission in Salt Lake City, Friday, December 4, 2015.  Photo by Chris Samuels, Deseret News.

Article Highlights

  • Having charity and caring for one another is at the core of the gospel.
  • Jesus Christ exemplified this pattern of charity.
  • President Monson still loves to serve God and fellowmen with all his heart, mind, and strength.

“We are called to follow the example of the Savior, and it is impossible to do so if we set aside our compassion and refuse to care for our fellowmen.” —President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency

Each year, thousands of people in need living along Utah's Wasatch Front are served and uplifted by a host of senior couples and other humanitarian missionaries serving in the Salt Lake City Inner City Mission. The work they do exemplifies Christ’s direction to “love one another.”

On December 4, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf shared his appreciation and love to the hundreds of Inner City missionaries gathered for their annual Christmas devotional. The Second Counselor in the First Presidency encouraged the missionaries to focus on three “P's” of charity: the pattern, the path, and the promise. He also spoke tenderly of the tremendous responsibilities shouldered by President Thomas S. Monson.

“It is a privilege to spend part of the Christmas season with you, who give so much of yourselves to bless those in need,” President Uchtdorf said.

Latter-day Saints serving in the Inner City Mission typically care for the poor and needy in an assigned ward or branch.

President Uchtdorf said the scriptures teach a consistent, common pattern: “The Lord has always commanded His children to serve and to love Him and to seek the welfare of their brothers and sisters.”

Charity for one another, he added, is essential to pleasing God and becoming “a people of Zion.”

“We could cover the earth with members of the Church, put a meetinghouse on every corner, dot the land with temples, fill the earth with copies of the Book of Mormon, send missionaries to every country, and say millions of prayers. But if we neglect to grasp the core of the gospel message and fail to help those who suffer or turn away those who mourn, and if we do not remember to be charitable, we ‘are as [waste], which the refiners do cast out,’” he said.

Having charity and caring for one another is not simply “a good idea”—it's at the core of the gospel.

“Without this transformational work of caring for our fellowmen, the Church is but a facade of the organization God intends for His people,” he said. “Without charity and compassion we are a mere shadow of who we are meant to be—both as individuals and as a church. Without charity and compassion, we are neglecting our heritage and endangering our promise as children of God.”

Jesus Christ—who loved the sick, broken, and rejected—exemplified this pattern of charity, he said.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf speaks at a fireside for the Salt Lake Inner City Mission in Salt Lake City, Friday, December 4, 2015.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf speaks at a fireside for the Salt Lake Inner City Mission in Salt Lake City, Friday, December 4, 2015.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, left, shakes hands with Elder Jeff Coates at a fireside for the Salt Lake Inner City Mission in Salt Lake City, Friday, December 4, 2015. Photo by Chris Samuels, Deseret News.

“He spent time among the poor, the unpopular, and the burdened. He knew that it was the sick, not the whole, who need a physician. He reached out to those who sorrowed and suffered.”

This pattern of charity, said President Uchtdorf, defines the path one must walk to please God.

“We are called to follow the example of the Savior, and it is impossible to do so if we set aside our compassion and refuse to care for our fellowmen.”

The Church leader shared the experiences of a retired couple—Brother and Sister Misbach—who left lives of quiet comfort to serve LDS humanitarian missions in several developing nations in Asia. The Misbachs worked with the impoverished, the homeless, the sick, and the elderly. They sometimes felt alone and unprepared. But they worked hard, loved the people, and delivered comfort to those in dire need of charity and support.

The Misbachs’ missionary work provided an example of Christlike love to their relatives and loved ones.

“While the inner city of Salt Lake may not be as exotic or remote as Hyderabad, Nepal, or Bangkok, the work you do is just as important to the Lord and to the people to whom you minister,” said President Uchtdorf. “You are the hands of the Savior, ministering to God’s children. You are angels of God to those you serve.You are examples to your families, to me, and to all the world of what a disciple of Christ should do.”

One’s love for God, he added, kindles his or her love for others. “This is the path of discipleship. It is the path God desires us to walk.”

At the end of the path, there is a promise.

“Surely, those who ‘lift up the hands which hang down’ will find that their own hands are lifted up in their time of need,” he said. “Without a doubt, those who bring peace to others will find peace in their own hearts. The merciful will surely find mercy.”

Such blessings do not all come at the end of the path.

“Often, the reward is in the doing. When asked why he was so faithful in the Church, one elderly brother replied, ‘I’m faithful because it feels good. It makes me feel right when I do right.’”

President Uchtdorf concluded by saying the charitable work being performed by the inner city missionaries follows an eternal and divinely ordained pattern.

“As you go about this work, you are walking in the path of discipleship. As you give of yourself to others, surely you will reap the blessings promised by our Heavenly Father.”

President Uchtdorf also spoke of President Monson’s remarkable leadership.

“[President Monson] carries tremendous responsibilities, and regardless of being 88 years of age he still loves to serve God and fellowmen with all his heart, mind, and strength,” he said. “All of his life, when he has seen those in need, especially the poor and needy, his heart has instantly reached out to them in deeply personal ways.”

The Church's 16th President, he added, continues to direct the Church “and build the Lord’s kingdom.”

“Those who work with him each day know how deeply President Monson is involved in every decision of major importance to the ongoing work of the Lord’s kingdom,” said President Uchtdorf. “His is the final decision on key matters.”

The recent calling of three new members to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, for example, was made by President Monson. “He alone had the responsibility to obtain the Lord’s will on this critical matter, and he did.”

God, he added, is at the helm of His Church.

“The Lord’s divine system of Church government ensures that the Church is always in good and steady hands. The quorums of the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles are the Lord’s pattern for His Church.”

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, left, greets Elder Gary Williams, right, and Sister Mary Williams, center, at a fireside for the Salt Lake Inner City Mission in Salt Lake City, Friday, December 4, 2015. Photo by Chris Samuels, Deseret News.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf receives a gift from choir members at a fireside for the Salt Lake Inner City Mission in Salt Lake City, Friday, December 4, 2015.

Missionary couples listen to President Dieter F. Uchtdorf speak at a fireside for the Salt Lake Inner City Mission in Salt Lake City, Friday, December 4, 2015.

Missionary couples listen to President Dieter F. Uchtdorf speak at a fireside for the Salt Lake Inner City Mission in Salt Lake City, Friday, December 4, 2015.