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The Essence of Service

Today’s inspiration is drawn from Why Do We Serve? by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, delivered during the October 1984 General Conference. In his profound discourse, Elder Oaks explores the various motivations behind service and emphasizes the highest form of service—serving from the pure love of Christ.

Why We Serve: Understanding Our Motives

Service is a fundamental aspect of Christian life, underscored by Jesus Christ’s teachings and his example. Elder Oaks begins by recounting his personal journey into full-time service and reflecting on the vast array of service roles occupied by members of the Church. He raises the essential question, “Why do we serve?” This inquiry leads us to examine our motives, which can range from seeking earthly rewards to fulfilling divine commands.

The Savior taught his disciples in Matthew 20:27, “And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.” This scripture illustrates that true greatness in the kingdom of God is not achieved through dominance or earthly power, but through humble service to others.

The Spectrum of Service Motives

Elder Oaks outlines a spectrum of motives for service, starting with lower motivations such as the desire for earthly rewards or recognition, often termed as “priestcraft” in scriptural language. Such service, while it may appear altruistic, does not fulfill the higher purposes God sets for us and is often tainted by personal ambition.

Moving up the spectrum, service motivated by fear of punishment or a sense of duty, although more admirable, still falls short of the ideal. These motives, while they may drive compliance with God’s commandments, lack the joy and love that should characterize our actions.

The Highest Form of Service: Charity

The apex of service motives, as described by Elder Oaks, is charity, or the pure love of Christ. This type of service transcends all selfish desires and is performed out of genuine love for God and His children. Paul the Apostle echoed this sentiment in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, explaining that without charity, even the most significant sacrifices are empty.

Charity enriches the giver and the receiver, transforming acts of service into acts of divine love. This principle is pivotal as it aligns our actions with Christ’s teachings about loving and serving impartially, as exemplified in his ministry to both the just and the unjust.

Practical Ways to Serve with Love

Service isn’t only about big gestures; it’s about the everyday acts of kindness that we can all perform. Consider helping a neighbor, volunteering at local shelters, or simply offering a listening ear to someone in need. Every act of service, infused with love and sincerity, contributes to the betterment of our communities and reflects the light of Christ in the world.

Make a Difference Today

As we reflect on the insights shared by Elder Oaks, let’s challenge ourselves to elevate our reasons for serving. Let us move beyond serving for recognition or out of obligation, and strive to serve out of a pure love of Christ. This change in perspective can transform our lives and the lives of those around us, creating ripples of positivity and love.

Start today by choosing one act of service you can perform with a pure intention. Whether it’s helping a family member, reaching out to a friend in distress, or volunteering your time for a local cause, let your service be driven by love. Let’s join together to make the world a better place, one act of kindness at a time. Why Do We Serve?

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