“The Lord doth give me exceedingly great joy in the fruit of my labors” (Alma 36:25).
Alma taught that through baptism we covenant to serve God, “that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon [us]” (Mosiah 18:10). One of the fruits of the Spirit is joy, which Inga Britt Soederstroem receives from quietly doing her part. She lives just south of the Arctic Circle in Skellefteo, Sweden. Sister Soederstroem is three and a half feet tall, is in her seventies, and uses a wheelchair. She can no longer physically serve as she used to serve. But still she offers what she can by welcoming missionaries and their investigators into her home, sharing her strong testimony with fellow branch members, and offering comfort to those who are suffering (see Church News, 16 Apr. 1994). In very deed, she receives joy through her service.
Much of the Savior’s ministry consisted of teaching and helping those around him, one by one. We too can contribute by serving others, one by one, through small, simple acts of love. And those often in most immediate need of our service are our families. President Harold B. Lee declared that the most important part of the Lord’s work we will ever do will be “within the walls of your own home” (Strengthening the Home, pamphlet, 1973, p. 7).
The Savior identified others who also need our help. Among them are the “fatherless and widows” (James 1:27) and those who are struggling with weakening faith, diminishing physical abilities, disease, and discouragement. He admonished us to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees” (D&C 81:5).
Within our communities, genuine concern shown through charitable acts and Christlike service can bless individuals and families. As part of the Relief Society gospel literacy effort, for example, a group of Tongan sisters in San Francisco help children study after school. Their reward is “exceedingly great joy” from seeing students acquire confidence, gain skills and knowledge, and improve their lives.
Beth Tracy accepted a call to serve in the Los Angeles California Stake Primary with apprehension. As a convert to the Church, she had never attended Primary and had served mostly with adults. Beth wondered, What can I offer to children? But through teaching in a nursery, encouraging other Primary leaders, and learning to love children of many nationalities, she found satisfaction and joy—the results of Christlike service to her fellow beings (see Mosiah 2:17).
President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, has identified the joy we receive for the good we may do: “In any land, in any city, in any home, in any life, there are opportunities all around to stretch our lives and our interests in behalf of others. … If we want joy in our hearts, if we want the Spirit of the Lord in our lives, let us forget ourselves and reach out. Let us put in the background our own personal, selfish interests and reach out in service to others” (Ensign, Aug. 1982, p. 6).
How can being of service help us overcome selfishness?
In what ways can we succor, lift, and strengthen others?