I recently watched a video clip put out by the Church (you can watch it here) about a mom who has a full day planned, but all of her plans get pushed to the side by last minute tasks that others ask her to do. By the end of the day, she is frustrated, tired, and feeling very empty, a sentiment with which I’m sure many of us can relate. Just before she sends her children to bed for the evening, her son offers a family prayer, and in that prayer, he says, “Thank Thee that we could get all the things done that You needed us to do today.” She stops and thinks about everything she did that day, and the video flashes to how those acts of help and service she rendered sincerely impacted the lives of those who received them.
As I watched this video, the words of the second verse of this hymn came to my mind:
There are chances for work all around just now,
Opportunities right in our way.
Do not let them pass by, saying, “Sometime I’ll try,”
But go and do something today.
‘Tis noble of man to work and to give;
Love’s labor has merit alone.
Only he who does something helps others to live.
To God each good work will be known.
Simple acts of kindness, whether it be through a phone call, a small gift, a surprise visit, or some other act of service, shape our lives. As human beings, we have experienced and will experience trials that push us beyond that which we think we are able to bear, and one of the reasons many we are able to hold on and have faith is the goodness of others who act in God’s place to care for us when we need it most.
Each of us also has extensive opportunities to be the person offering those kindnesses and services. Often, we don’t know the impact of our actions. We can’t see the healing we have on others’ hearts. We can’t tell how a casserole, a plate of cookies, babysitting, a phone call, a listening ear soothes the soul of those to whom we offer our efforts. But that’s not why we do those things. We do them because “Love’s labor has merit alone.” We serve because we love God and we strive to do as He asks and love or neighbors. God knows our hearts and He sees our simple acts of kindness for what they really are – an outward manifestation of charity, His pure love for each of us. King Benjamin perhaps says it best in Mosiah 2:17
When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.
Fellow beings means more than just those to whom we would naturally be drawn to give our time and . As Jesus illustrated in the parable of the Good Samaritan, everyone we come in contact with is our neighbor and is deserving of our help. The challenge to be the hands of the Lord is to do good in all the world, to all men, at all times, and in all places. And, like the parable of the Good Samaritan illustrates, this means those that would ordinarily not be prone to return that service were we the ones in need.
So here’s the big question: we all know the hymn, we all know the sentiment, but what are we doing about it? May I suggest following the counsel from the chorus, to wake up, to act, and to find the joy in being a servant of the Lord.
Then wake up and do something more
Than dream of your mansion above.
Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure,
A blessing of duty and love.