During 1992, we are commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Relief Society. Throughout the world, Relief Society women have celebrated this event by serving others. Women of the first Relief Society in Nauvoo sought out needs and shared what they could—a bag of flour, a piece of fabric, a needle and thread, hours of work, and always a concern for each other’s welfare. Sisters today have also found ways to help others.
“Charity is acts of service,” says Relief Society general president Elaine L. Jack, “but it is more. It is a condition of the heart. While charity is an essential part of our lives, the ways we develop and exercise it vary as much as each life does.”
Whether our service projects have been collecting used eyeglasses to share with the sight-impaired, or washing windows and scrubbing floors for the elderly, or reading to shut-ins, or cheering children in an orphanage, the seeds of service have brought a fruitful harvest.
Paul taught, “He which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. …
“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (2 Cor. 9:6, 8).
How can we serve others in our ward and community?
With a will to serve, Sister Marilyn Jones of Sydney, Australia, accomplished a task that at first seemed impossible. Her son had physical handicaps, and Sister Jones knew that he and others with disabilities would benefit from a neighborhood recreation center. There were zoning restrictions to change. She solicited support and filled out innumerable papers for government grants. It took hours of talking to convince others to lend their efforts.
After eight years, Marilyn and her neighbors saw the results of their charitable labors. The community program they operate blesses hundreds of children who have physical limitations.
The Apostle Paul taught that persistence is necessary in serving, as it is in planting and harvesting. “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal. 6:9). We may plant a good seed, but we must then spend long hours cultivating the plant before we can reap the harvest.
And in service to others, our harvest is always twofold. First, our service blesses those we serve. Second, we are blessed with divine help as we serve.
How do the qualities of foresight and perseverance help us?
“There can be many excuses not to reach out to others,” says President Jack. “Most of us are occupied with our personal responsibilities. We may not want to interfere in others’ lives. It’s sometimes more comfortable right where we are—far away from the suffering. Yet when we act, rewards come to us and to others.”
We invite all Relief Society sisters to continue as “doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22), making the spirit of charitable service a part of our lives.
What blessings come to us as we serve those around us? How are those we serve blessed?