Lesson 33: Love and Service

Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood: Basic Manual for Priesthood Holders, Part A, (2000), 244–49


The purpose of this lesson is to help us learn the importance of Christlike love and service.

Introduction

  • Show visual 33-a, “Christ is the great example of love.”

Jesus Christ loves every person. His ability to love is perfect. So complete is His love that the scriptures tell us that He is love (see 1 John 4:7–12). Christ shows His love by the acts of service He has performed for mankind.

As priesthood holders, we have the responsibility to become like Christ. To do so, we must learn to love as He loves and serve as He serves. Bishop H. Burke Peterson taught that “in a world and society where Satan is launching his most vicious attacks ever on the children of men, we have no greater weapon than pure, unselfish, Christlike love” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1977, 103; or Ensign, May 1977, 69).

We Are Commanded to Love

One day as Christ was teaching, one of the scribes asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” Jesus answered: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

“And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these” (see Mark 12:28–31).

  • Why are these two commandments the greatest of all the commandments? (If we love God, we will strive to obey all of the commandments He has given. If we love others, we will treat them as the gospel teaches.)

The Savior spent much of His life teaching about love. Sometimes His gospel is called “the gospel of love.” He taught that only when we love others are we His disciples (see John 13:35). He explained that we should even love our enemies (see Matthew 5:43–44). Just a few hours before His Crucifixion, Jesus said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34).

President N. Eldon Tanner, stressing the importance of the commandment to love, said, “The only slogan we need in order to be happy … is: Love Each Other—three simple words” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1967, 103; or Improvement Era, June 1967, 29).

Charity, the Pure Love of Christ

Elder Mark E. Petersen explained that charity is “the pure love of Christ which helps us to love both God and our fellowmen” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1977, 111; or Ensign, May 1977, 75). The following story told by Elder Marion D. Hanks shows how a father taught his daughter to develop and show charity.

“I think of a choice lady born with a severely handicapped body. … [She] spoke of an incident of her childhood. Playmates had called her names that … caused her pain and tears. When she reached home her father held her in his lap in his big strong arms and wept with her as he explained that … [this experience] could make her life fruitful and happy. ‘Sweetheart,’ he said, ‘what the children said about you is true, but it wasn’t fair and it wasn’t kind. You do have a hump on your back and some other serious problems. But that isn’t your fault. It isn’t your parents’ fault or Heavenly Father’s fault. … If all your life you will try to be more fair and more kind to others than some of them may sometimes be to you, then you will be happy, and your life will be full and useful’” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1976, 42; or Ensign, Nov. 1976, 32).

  • What does this story suggest that each of us can do to become more charitable? Have a class member read 1 Corinthians 13:1–3. Why is it so important to have charity?

Elder Theodore M. Burton explained that “charity is … love so great that we are willing to give a part of ourselves to others. … It is easy to say, ‘I love you.’ But love should not only be declared; it should be proved by actions. Love, unless demonstrated, is only a crashing cymbal or a booming drum which deafens the ears and does not soothe the soul” (“If I Have Not Love—,” Instructor, June 1970, 201).

  • Invite class members to think of opportunities they have to show charity toward others.

Being charitable will help us live happy, useful lives. If we do not develop charity, we shall be “as dross, which the refiners do cast out, (it being of no worth) and is trodden under foot of men” (Alma 34:29).

Christlike Service

Our love for our Heavenly Father and for His children is shown through our service to others. President Harold B. Lee said that one night he had what “must have been a vision” in which he was told, “If you want to love God, you have to learn to love and serve the people. That is the way to show your love for God” (Stand Ye in Holy Places [1974], 189).

Christlike service is service given sincerely and often without reward to anyone in need. It may be unasked for or unpleasant and require much effort on our part. It may be needed at a time when it is difficult for us to give it. But no matter how it is given, it is service given simply because we love our Heavenly Father and His children.

  • Why should we give service? Whom can we serve?

We should serve all people as we can and as they are in need. But Elder Thomas S. Monson reminded us that some need our help more desperately than others: “The sick, the weary, the hungry, the cold, the injured, the lonely, the aged, the wanderer—all cry out for our help” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1977, 108; or Ensign, May 1977, 73). The following story shows how one young man learned the importance of service:

The bishop called Steve into his office for a talk following sacrament meeting. “Here it comes,” thought Steve. “I’m going to be the new teachers quorum president. Wow, is the ward ever going to heap handshakes on me. Mom will be so proud!”

“Steve, we have an assignment for you,” the bishop said. “This is a special ‘good neighbor’ assignment. We’re concerned about Hasty McFarlan. He needs someone to befriend him. He’s not a member of the Church, but God’s love reaches to all people, and we have the privilege of showing that love.”

Steve was stunned. His mind raced back two weeks to when he and his friends had made fun of the old man by singing jingles and shouting jokes to him that they had made up about him. Disappointed and feeling guilty, he heard the bishop say, “I would like you to go out and visit him two or three times a week. Now if this assignment will be too much for you to handle, don’t be afraid to say so.”

Steve sighed and told the bishop he would do it. The bishop instructed him further regarding the assignment. “You can chop wood for the fire and get him food, blankets—whatever he needs to help him feel wanted. Be a friend. Your father is aware of the assignment, and he told me he would help you. Your Heavenly Father will be helping you too.”

At age 15, Steve could think of things he would rather do—play football, hunt, fish, or play with his friends. But he knew he had agreed to the assignment.

Hasty lived a hermit’s life in a little log cabin just outside of town. Once a year he had a free bath at the hotel, compliments of the sheriff. He wore a black eye patch and had a growth on the side of his head. Most of the kids and even some adults had the habit of making unkind remarks about him.

Steve arrived at Hasty’s cabin very frightened. He knocked on the door but received no answer. Finally, after calling to the old man, he decided to push open the door. It was cold and dark in Hasty’s cabin. He saw Hasty sitting on a soiled and mildewed blanket on his bed.

“Hasty, can I do anything for you?” Steve blurted out. He told the old man his name and that the bishop of the LDS Church had sent him. The old man said nothing, just stared at the floor. Steve left the cabin to chop some wood. He wondered with every strike of the ax why he was there. “Quit grumbling,” a voice within him said. “The old man is cold and needs help.”

Steve built a fire and tried to talk to Hasty, who made no response. He decided Hasty wasn’t listening, so he told him he would come back the next day with a warm clean blanket. He was back the next day with a new blanket, as he had promised. Every other day for the next four weeks he visited Hasty. Finally, the old man began to talk to him. One day he said, “Boy, why do you come? I’m sure a kid your age could find better things to do than visit a sick old varmint like me.” And then he smiled.

At Thanksgiving, Steve invited him to dinner. He did not come, but Steve’s family took part of their dinner to him. There were tears in Hasty’s eyes as he tried to thank them.

In time, Steve learned about Hasty’s life as a sheepherder. He learned that his wife and children had died from a terrible fever and that a disease had robbed Hasty of one of his eyes. Somehow the old hermit did not seem ugly any more, and Steve hurried there after school to help him and hear his stories.

When Christmas came, Steve’s family invited Hasty to dinner again. This time he came—clean, in a suit, and looking handsome. After dinner the old man expressed his gratitude for Steve and his family. He said that his life had been a shambles, but the love they had shown him was making him a different person. Steve looked at Hasty and saw how happy he was; and inside, he felt his heart begin to grow warm. (See Terry Dale, “Hasty,” New Era, Nov. 1974, 48–49.)

  • How was the young man blessed by the service he gave? How has the Lord blessed you and your family as you have served others?

When we were baptized, we promised the Lord to “bear one another’s burdens, … mourn with those that mourn; … and comfort those that stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18:8–9). We have the responsibility to seek out those who are in need. Then we have the responsibility to help them in love and kindness without being urged or commanded (see D&C 58:26–29).

Conclusion

Bishop H. Burke Peterson reminded us: “The Master gave the commandment to all—not to a few in one land or a handful in another, not just to a family here or there, but to all his children, everywhere. Express love now! Show it now” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1977, 103; or Ensign, May 1977, 69).

President David O. McKay taught: “We have greater responsibilities than ever before to make our homes such as will radiate to our neighbors harmony, love, community duties, loyalty. Let our neighbors see it and hear it. …

“God help us as members of the priesthood, as members of the Church, to radiate … Love, … Charity, … and Service!” (David O. McKay, “Radiation of the Individual,” Instructor, Oct. 1964, 374).

Challenges

Pray humbly and sincerely for the ability to love as Christ loves.

Show love for your family by doing a kind act for each family member.

Show your love for someone in need by doing something kind for him or her.

Help your priesthood quorum plan a service activity.

Additional Scriptures

Teacher Preparation

Before presenting this lesson:

  1. 1.

    Read Gospel Principles chapters 28, “Service,” and 30 “Charity.”

  2. 2.

    Assign class members to present any stories, scriptures, or quotations you wish.