For the Least and the Greatest

I’ve been listening to A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief and appreciating how it is packed with great principles centered around the Savior – healing of wounds, selfless sacrifice, the Atonement, bread of life/living waters, a life of service, etc. But today I specifically read the scriptures referenced at the bottom of the hymn – Mosiah 2:17 and Matthew 25:31-40. I’m sure you can recite the verse in Mosiah, but maybe (like me) you aren’t as familiar with Matthew 25.

This specific section of verses is where the Savior gives the parable of the sheep and the goats. The message is much the same as in Mosiah, but as I was reading it today I had a light bulb moment. When I’d thought of serving man as the same as serving God, I think I thought of it mostly in terms of equality and value in all people. Or maybe as instruction that we get just as much credit for helping those around us as we’d get if the Savior stood in front of us needing our help. And that’s a great principle. We should be willing and quick to help anyone, and not be respecters of persons.

But today I read it in a different way. The Savior tells the sheep that they are blessed because they visited, fed, clothed, and took Him in – they are confused and He responds that when they did any of that for anyone, they did it to/for Him. Today the thought came to me that Christ literally meant they provided that comfort and aid for Him when they were serving others. We read that the Savior has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows so, when we help alleviate the suffering of others, we literally alleviate or prevent some of those griefs and sorrows. His load is the sum of all the loads felt by all the people who ever lived on earth, and we can reduce that load through our love and service. I love the directness of this! I’ve always believed in the value of service, and somewhat connected it to serving God in that any good we do pleases God. But I love the idea that we can literally lift some small, small part of Christ’s burden, literally serve Him and serve God by helping our fellow men.

As a side note, something I’m less excited about but which still struck me today was the end of Matthew 25. The Savior turns to address the goats and condemns them, but not for the sins you typically see associated with condemnation in the scriptures. They are condemned for not visiting the sick, not feeding the hungry, etc. And then he says, “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.” I think it’s interesting that we don’t hear this verse much in comparison to the one given to the sheep. Possibly because this one sets a much higher standard. Sins of omission are so much subtler and harder to catch than those of commission. We always have excuses for sins of omission – I don’t have time to visit that person, or that person doesn’t really need or want my help.

And as evidenced by the goats in the parables, not helping others is sinful and it’s almost doubly bad because not only do we not alleviate some of Christ’s burden, we add our own need for forgiveness and increase the volume of pain Christ experienced through the Atonement.

Anyway, that might be kind of a downer way to end. I’m focusing on the sheep – I believe in the power of service!


I’m not generally a watcher of Mormon Messages, but there is a newish one that I watched tonight, Lift, which again made me think of A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief.

Yesterday I was focused on guilt as the concealed wound which can be healed, but I wasn’t necessarily thinking of the service provided by the Good Samaritan in verse five as the healing agent. After watching this video and hearing an average-joe-type man describe the healing power of service I thought of other types of concealed wounds which need healing. Depression, for example, is one that certainly can be/often is concealed, and deeply painful. There were very few things that helped me feel less depressed with any kind of consistency, but helping other people was one of those things.

As another man in the video said, triage of the soul involves looking outward, which absolutely has been true for me. It was not terribly intuitive and so I didn’t take advantage of this method to provide respite from Depression as much I could have; it’s hard to feel like you have a lot to offer other people when you can barely function yourself. But there’s always something that can be done.

It was also great to see a video focused on men doing service and experiencing a change of heart in a subtle way. Most of these scenarios of service that I’ve seen are focused on women, and I like that this represents men who also care about sacrificing time, helping their neighbors, etc. And as for the change of heart, it’s nice to see men who aren’t turning from drug addicts into faithful members…just regular guys who have impactful spiritual experiences which motivate them to change.

The quote from Elder Christofferson at the end was perfect, “We become more substantive as we serve others, indeed it’s easier to find ourselves because there’s so much more of us to find.”