The Sabbath is a delight in many ways. A most poignant experience for me was the opportunity to visit a man confined to a convalescent home after a debilitating stroke.
My father, another ward member, and I brought him the Sacrament and per his request, each of us gave him a blessing.
Returning to Church, we enjoyed a Sunday School lesson that emphasized the Savior’s words in Matthew:
For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
What had initially been a somewhat quiet crowd was suddenly ablaze with hands raising back and forth as if in a furious auction battle for an antique bust of Marcus Aurelius.
Anecdote after anecdote of giving or not giving to beggars.
Most have heard of professional panhandlers, or how giving money to folks with cardboard signs only fuels a drug or alcohol addiction. But what of the Savior’s commandment?
King Benjamin’s sermon is equally as explicit that we shouldn’t “suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to [us] in vain”. (Mosiah 4:16)
I have always tried to err on the side of kindness – although, if we gave to everyone we encountered we would be penniless in a day.
The Lord is not asking that we render ourselves destitute. This is why we are exhorted to give a generous fast offering. We can trust that the Lord’s Church will use the donations in the best way possible.
This does not absolve us from loving and serving our neighbors. In order to serve those around us, we too must “prepare every needful thing” (D&C 88:119)
If we have misgivings about handing over a crisp twenty-dollar bill fresh from the ATM, then we may consider carrying bottles of water, or non-perishable snacks in our cars to give to those standing in the hot sun.
Let us learn and practice skills such as changing tires for when we see a single mother with a vanload of groceries stranded on the shoulder.
Let us be industrious and creative in our ministering to the temporal needs of those around us.
But this is not all. In the Book of Acts, we read about a crippled man who asks Peter and John for money:
And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;
Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.
And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.
And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.
Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. (Acts 3:2-6)
Any missionary, particularly to impoverished nations, will likely have received similar supplications.
While serving in Peru, I wanted to help every single dirty, hungry, unshod person I saw. But we have something infinitely more valuable than money to give: the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Peter answered the beggar, “Silver and gold have I none but such as I have give I thee.”
Let us share the Gospel. Certainly, we should be as free with our substance as we can, but let us be more liberal with our testimony.
If we carry spare change or bottles of water, let us also have spare copies of the Book of Mormon. On one occasion on my mission, we helped push a stalled vehicle until it could start. Before the driver could accelerate away, I set a Book of Mormon on the seat through the open passenger window.
If we don’t know what we have to give, it is likely because we have never tried. Let us ponder on what our Father in Heaven and our Savior have given us:
God so loved the world that He GAVE His Only Begotten Son. (John 3:16)
Jesus Christ proclaimed in Matthew 7:11 that our Father in Heaven will GIVE good things to us. Heavenly Father is very giving.
We all have something to give, something to contribute: time, talents, and most importantly, testimony. Our faith and testimony are cultivated by exercising it and sharing them with others. Observe Enos and the sons of Mosiah, who after their receiving their testimonies, sought to share them.
I know that inasmuch as we look and ask and take advantage of chances to give of ourselves, we will find the pearl of great price, for which we would give all that we have to obtain it.
“The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Golden Door” – Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone, October 1973
“A Handful of Meal and a Little Oil” – Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, April 1996
“In The Lord’s Own Way” – Elder Russell M. Nelson, April 1986