Good Works

An Essay By Raine // 3/23/2006

In Acts 10:38 it says "...Jesus of Nazareth...who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him."

This scripture, among many others, encourages and commands us to actively seek after and engage in worthy service. Good Works has been defined as 'helping others and building the kingdom through righteous service'. We all know what service is and that it is a commandment to serve our fellowmen. We undertake service projects all the time and often engage in helpful activities.

Dallin Oaks says: ”When we think of service, we usually think of the acts of our hands. But the scriptures teach that the Lord looks to our thoughts as well as to our acts. One of God’s earliest commandments to Israel was that they should love him and “serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.” When the prophet Samuel was sent to Bethlehem to choose and anoint one of the sons of Jesse as a new king for Israel, the Lord told him to reject the first son, though he was a man of fine appearance. The Lord explained, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”"

Our Father in Heaven knows the intents of our heart and mind, and no matter what our actions are, our true thoughts and intent will determine the consequences. In order for our Good Works to ‘glorify our Father in Heaven’ our acts of service must be in tune with the intent of our heart and soul. When we serve others, our thoughts must be in the right place for it to really be a gift of service.
In Proverbs 23:7 it says: “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:”
James Allen wrote—inspired, I believe by the previous Proverb-“As he thinks, so he is; as he continues to think, so he remains...they themselves are makers of themselves.”
If our thoughts and hearts are not wholly aligned with our acts of good will, we can never become the better people we strive to be.

Dallin Oaks goes on to say: “People serve one another for different reasons, and some reasons are better than others. Perhaps none of us serves in every capacity all the time for only a single reason. Since we are imperfect beings, most of us probably serve for a combination of reasons, and the combinations may be different from time to time as we grow spiritually. But we should all strive to serve for the reasons that are highest and best.”

There are many reasons why we serve others…sometimes we hope for an earthly reward, or seek to curry favor with someone we admire. Sometimes we serve from a sense of loyalty or duty to others, and sometimes we serve for fear of getting punished. Not all of the motivation behind good works is entirely righteous. But there is one inspiration that we should all strive to have driving our acts of goodwill.

Dallin Oaks explains this motive: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. …
“And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, … and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” (1 Cor. 13:1–3.)
We know from these inspired words that even the most extreme acts of service—such as giving all of our goods to feed the poor—profit us nothing unless our service is motivated by the pure love of Christ.
If our service is to be most efficacious, it must be accomplished for the love of God and the love of his children.
This principle—that our service should be for the love of God and the love of fellowmen rather than for personal advantage or any other lesser motive—is admittedly a high standard.
We learn from this command that it is not enough to serve God with all of our might and strength. He who looks into our hearts and knows our minds demands more than this. In order to stand blameless before God at the last day, we must also serve him with all our heart and mind.”

Serving in this manner—with all of our heart, might and mind is a difficult and high challenge for everyone. Elder Oaks goes on to explain that if we struggle with this, we can find help by praying unto our Father in Heaven with all the energy of our heart, that we may be filled with the pure love of Christ, that he bestows upon all who are true followers of Jesus Christ.

1st John 2: 3 & 28 “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments…And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.”

1st John 4: 12 & 20-21 “No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us and his love is perfected in us….If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also.”

1st John 3: 16-18 “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”

It is through these acts of service-as we truly fulfill our callings and stewardships at home and in our communities— with the guidance of the Holy Ghost—that we receive power from on high to become like Christ. So, perhaps the greatest benefit of pure charitable service is ours. Because this enables us to become like Him and thus become worthy to live in his presence.

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