And no one can assist in this work except he shall be humble and full of love, having faith, hope, and charity, being temperate in all things, whatsoever shall be entrusted to his care. D&C 12:8
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are counseled to attend to the welfare of themselves, their families, and those of all those within their realm of influence. Elder Robert D. Hales speaks specifically to the primary areas of focus which should be the priorities of each of us as we strive to follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
PROVIDENT LIVING AND SELF-RELIANCE
The first building block may be described as provident living. This means joyfully living within our means and preparing for the ups and downs of life so that we can be ready for the rainy-day emergencies when they come into our lives.
Provident living means not coveting the things of this world. It means using the resources of the earth wisely and not being wasteful, even in times of plenty. Provident living means avoiding excessive debt and
being content with what we have. We live in an age of entitlement. Many believe they should have all that others have—right now. Unable to delay gratification, they go into debt to buy what they cannot afford. The results always affect both their temporal and spiritual welfare.
When we go into debt, we give away some of our precious, priceless agency and place ourselves in self-imposed servitude. We obligate our time, energy, and means to repay what we have borrowed—resources that could have been used to help ourselves, our families, and others. . . .
. . . Self-reliance is taking responsibility for our own spiritual and temporal welfare and for those whom Heavenly Father has entrusted to our care. Only when we are self-reliant can we truly emulate the Savior in serving and blessing others.
It is important to understand that self-reliance is a means to an end. Our ultimate goal is to become like the Savior, and that goal is enhanced by our unselfish service to others. Our ability to serve is increased or diminished by the level of our self-reliance.
TITHES AND OFFERINGS
The primary purpose of tithing is to develop our faith. By keeping the commandment to pay “one-tenth of all [our increase] annually” (D&C 119:4), we become better—our faith grows and sustains us through the trials, tribulations, and sorrows of life.
With the payment of tithes, we also learn to control our desires and appetites for the things of this world, to be honest in our dealings with our fellowmen, and to make sacrifices for others.
As our faith grows, so will our desire to keep the commandment to pay fast offerings. This offering is at least the cost of the two meals we do not eat while we are fasting. Fast offerings are the means provided for us to participate in anonymous giving to bless our brothers and sisters in spiritual and temporal need—giving with no expectation of earthly credit or benefit. Freely giving allows us to follow the pattern of the Savior, who freely gave His life for all mankind. He said, “Remember in all things the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted, for he that doeth not these things, the same is not my disciple” (D&C 52:40).
As true disciples of Christ, we also give as did the good Samaritan, who boldly rescued his unknown brother on the highway side (see Luke 10:25–37). Said Joseph Smith, “A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race” (History of the Church, 4:227).
PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE
Preparing for the future includes making a spending and savings plan with our income. Carefully making and keeping a family or personal budget can help us recognize and control the difference between our wants and needs. Reviewing that budget in a family council will allow our children to learn and practice wise spending habits and to participate in planning and saving for the future.
Preparing for the future also includes obtaining an education or vocational training and finding gainful employment. If you are currently employed, do all that you can to be a valued, essential part of the organization you work for. Work hard and be a “labourer . . . worthy of [your] hire” (Luke 10:7; see also D&C 31:5; 70:12; 84:79; 106:3).
As companies continue to downsize or close, even ideal employees may find themselves needing to find new employment. This is an opportunity to rely on the Lord, to grow, and to be strengthened. If you are seeking a new job, increase your faith in the Lord’s desire and power to bless you. Also seek counsel from those you trust, and don’t be afraid to network and ask for help in finding a new job. If necessary, change your lifestyle—and possibly your place of residence—to live within your means. Willingly seek additional training and learn new skills, regardless of your age. Maintain your health and stay close to your spouse and children. And, above all, be grateful. Express your gratitude in prayer for all that has been given to you. Heavenly Father loves you. His Son has promised,“All these things shall give [you] experience, and shall be for [your] good” (D&C 122:7).
Now is the time to lay the building blocks of welfare in our lives and teach our brothers and sisters to do the same. The scriptures teach us, “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear” (D&C 38:30). By keeping the commandments and living welfare principles, we can have the Spirit of the Lord to be with us always—to sustain us through the storms of these last days and speak peace to our souls.
Just as we save our temporal resources for rainy days, keeping the commandments, praying, reading the scriptures, and relying upon the Holy Ghost prepare us for the rainy-day tests of life. By our obedience, we store up the faith we need to meet the vicissitudes and challenges of life. Keeping ourselves unspotted from the world—being “good” in this way—we are able to do good for our brothers and sisters throughout the world, both temporally and spiritually.
I testify that living the priesthood principles of welfare is the measure of our Christian love. It is our sacred opportunity to apply Christ’s restored gospel on earth—to put our faith into action and receive a fulness of His joy in this life and in the world to come. I bear my special witness that our Savior lives and that He gave His life for our eternal welfare. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Excerpts from The Gospel Vision of Welfare: Faith in Action, by Elder Robert D. Hales, February 2009.