One of the talks that I have just absolutely loved this past General Conference was Elder Holland’s “Are We Not All Beggars?” The part that stood out most to me was the following paragraph:
For one thing, we can, as King Benjamin taught, cease withholding our means because we see the poor as having brought their misery upon themselves. Perhaps some have created their own difficulties, but don’t the rest of us do exactly the same thing? Isn’t that why this compassionate ruler asks, “Are we not all beggars?”11Don’t we all cry out for help and hope and answers to prayers? Don’t we all beg for forgiveness for mistakes we have made and troubles we have caused? Don’t we all implore that grace will compensate for our weaknesses, that mercy will triumph over justice at least in our case?
To be frank, I’ve been guilty too many times of chalking up the situations which individuals find themselves to their own poor decisions, their mistakes and have on many occasions rationalized away any help that I could have provided to them by thinking to myself “they are simply dealing with the natural consequences of their choices. “
But so what?! What does it matter if they are in a bad place because of their poor decisions (even though many of them find themselves in difficult situations due to external influences out of their control)? What does it matter to me if they find themselves in a situation that came about as a natural consequence of going down the wrong path? Nowhere in the scriptures does it state that I’m to love or help one another unless they have made poor decisions in which case I am relieved of any obligation to help them. Why should I hold back my support or help to them simply because I feel like they made poor choices? Do I have such a superior moral high ground that I can choose those who are and who are not worthy of my love and support?
Now this is not to say we ought to enable individuals to continue to make poor choices and sometimes the best love is tough love. However, in those moments are we making the decision to help them (regardless of how we do it) purely out of a Christ-like love? Or are we holding back and thinking to ourselves “they’re simply reaping what they sowed”? Are we hastily running to help those in need as the father did when he saw the prodigal son come back home? Or are we just casually walking towards them or worse, thinking to ourselves “I’m sure someone else will help.”
We’re no different than they are. We have all made mistakes and poor decisions in our lives. And when it comes to the most important aspect of life of returning to our Heavenly Father, again we have all fallen incredibly short in our attempt to get there by ourselves. We’re in the EXACT same position as they are. Going back to the words of Elder Holland
Don’t we all cry out for help and hope and answers to prayers? Don’t we all beg for forgiveness for mistakes we have made and troubles we have caused? Don’t we all implore that grace will compensate for our weaknesses, that mercy will triumph over justice at least in our case?
Everyone needs a pick me up from time to time. Everyone needs help. Sometimes it’s monetary, sometimes it’s not. No one reaches the success and happiness that they find in their life on their own so why should we expect others to be any different? This life is too difficult for any one person to do it all by themselves. As members of this church, we have to be more than isolated silos whose only goals are to constantly refill and stack up our own personal wealth both in our time and resources. I think the members of this church do a tremendous amount of service for their families, friends, neighbors and community but we all have opportunities to do more.
We ought to give to our love and support to those around us, liberally and frequently, without first stopping to think whether or not they are deserving of it. This is what my religion is about and this is type of individual I hope to be moving forward.