“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; … for ye serve the Lord Christ.” (Col. 3:23–24.)
With these words, Paul indicated the type of response the Lord expects from his children. The Lord has counseled the members of the Church “not only to say, but also to do that which I have commanded” (D&C 84:57), and he has instructed “the inhabitants of Zion” to “remember their labors, inasmuch as they are appointed to labor, in all faithfulness; for the idler shall be had in remembrance before the Lord” (D&C 68:30).
In the early days of the restored church, Frederick G. Williams was commanded to become “a lively member” (D&C 92:2), a reminder that Peter spoke of the faithful members of the church as “lively stones” (1 Pet. 2:5).
“A lively member” himself, Paul warned the saints that they would be rewarded in kind. “He which soweth sparingly shall reap sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, … not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:6–7.)
And in our day the Lord has said:
“… it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, that same is a slothful and not a wise servant; … men should … do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness.” (D&C 58:26–27.)
In his writings to Timothy, Paul admonished:
“… keep that which is committed to thy trust” (1 Tim. 6:20), “… give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:13), “and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith … whereunto thou are also called …” (1 Tim. 6:11–12).
He told Timothy to “make full proof of thy ministry” (2 Tim. 4:5), or, as we have been told in our day, “magnify thine office” (D&C 24:3). Of course, we should always be preparing ourselves for service. As King Benjamin advised: “… it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength,” but he added, “it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.” (Mosiah 4:27.)
Paul sought the “prize” and likened the need for preparation and diligence in church responsibilities to the training and excellence required in athletic contests. He knew how the contestants worked for victory and how they prepared themselves and developed a will to win. He wanted the saints to manifest similar zeal and devotion in the gospel.
In this light he said:
“Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air. …” (1 Cor. 9:25–27, Revised Standard Version.)
And again, he admonished us to strip off everything that hinders us and to run the race that we have to run with patience, our eyes fixed on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith. (See Heb. 12:1–3.) The Lord has said:
“Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength.
“And faith, hope, charity, and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.
“Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.” (D&C 4:2, 5–7).
A scripture that summarizes the Saints’ ideal approach to church callings and assignments is given in D&C 107:99–100:
“Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office to which he is appointed, in all diligence.
“He that is slothful shall not be counted worthy to stand, and he that learns not his duty and shows himself not approved shall not be counted worthy to stand.”