As a member of the high council, I was asked to speak about charity, the pure love of Christ, in the sacrament meetings I visited. As I spoke, I mentioned the account in the New Testament of a rich man asking Jesus, “Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” I emphasized this part of the Lord’s answer: “Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me” (Luke 18:18, 22).
I was also impressed by Jesus’ promise that He will reward those who give to the poor, treating the act of charity as if they had given directly to Him: “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” (Matt. 25:35).
One day several months after giving these talks, I was hungry and went to a food stand where one of our members worked. I ordered seviche, a typical Peruvian dish consisting of fish prepared with lemon. After I sat down to eat, I became aware that someone was standing behind me. I turned around and saw an old man, dressed in an old but clean suit and wearing a wool hat. He had a white beard and used a cane.
He said nothing, and I went on eating. But then, suddenly, a thought came into my mind: What blessing can you expect if you don’t apply what you teach? Remembering my sacrament meeting talks, I looked at the old man again. “Would you like a dish of seviche?”
He said nothing, only continued to stare at me. I was sure I had never seen him before, and I went back to eating.
A few seconds later he spoke, “Could you possibly give me some money for lunch?”
“A lot of people might use the money to buy liquor,” I replied. “I will pay for something to eat.”
After a moment’s pause, he said, “That would be fine.” So I ordered a plate for him.
The old man sat down at another table and was served. When I had finished my own food, I paid my bill and his. I wondered if I should say good-bye to him, but he was enjoying his seviche so much he didn’t even look at me. So I started on my way home.
I had not finished taking the first step when I felt a clear and penetrating impression of heaven’s gratitude for my actions. So strong was the impression that my eyes clouded up with tears as I thought of the words, “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.”
When I got home, I went into my bedroom and knelt in prayer. I thanked God for His all-embracing love.