17. And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.
When asked “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” the Savior said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matt. 22:36-39)
We can show our neighbors that we love them by providing service. In the scriptures we learn that our neighbors are everyone around us. We can show service in many ways. We can say a kind word, write a friendly note, help someone with their work, or provide things they need. When we serve those around us, we are also serving God.
“I extol you who, with loving care and compassionate concern, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and house the homeless. He who notes the sparrow’s fall will not be unmindful of such service. The desire to lift, the willingness to help, and the graciousness to give come from a heart filled with love. Serve willingly.”
– Thomas S. Monson
How does loving our neighbor show Heavenly Father that we love him? (Discuss ideas.)
Did the Lord answer the Widow of Zarephath’s prayers through Elijah? (Discuss ideas.)
How was the Widow of Zarephath blessed for her service to Elijah? (Discuss ideas.)
What acts of service can our family give to find happiness? (Discuss specific ways your family can serve each other, neighbors, the church, etc.)
During the First Presidency Christmas Devotional, President Monson spoke fondly of his service to the eighty-seven widows in his ward and the weekly vacation he would take each Christmas season to visit each widow in order to provide a small remembrance. President Monson recalled. “One whom I visited was Elizabeth Keachie…Each year at Christmastime Lizzy baked a large and delicious shortbread cake for me. …” President Monson went on to explain that one year Lizzy was upset because his shortbread gift had cracked. He continued “…Then the inspiration came. I said, ‘Lizzy, do you have some milk in the house? …’” President Monson then explained how it became a cherished tradition for Lizzy and he to share a cracked shortbread with a glass of milk every year at Christmastime until she passed away.
Memories of her own sweet Scottish grandmother filled Evelyn’s mind as she listened. Grandmother had lived next door. After Grandpa passed away, Evelyn spent many afternoons keeping Grandma company. There were many afternoons that she and Grandma would bake shortbread for a neighbor. Like President Monson and Elizabeth Keachie, Evelyn and Grandma would eat the shortbreads that came out cracked. One time while they were eating their cracked shortbread, Evelyn had asked, “Why are we making shortbread for Mrs. Borsma? It’s not Christmas. Is it her birthday?” Grandmother had replied, “Can’t we do something nice, just because?”
When Evelyn was older she realized that “just because” was an opportunity to serve Mrs. Wood, who struggled to put food on the table for her children. Or Sister Perry was lonely because her children hadn’t come to visit in
a very long time. Or Mr. Kelsey was out of work. Grandma prayed for opportunities to serve.
One time near the end of the month, Evelyn knew that Grandma’s grocery budget was spent and there was hardly any sugar left in the canister. “I don’t think we better make shortbread for Mrs. Holmes today, Grandma,” Evelyn had said with concern. “You’re almost out of sugar.”
“Now, Evelyn,” Grandma had answered, “Do you think the Lord will bless me more if I help brighten Mrs. Holmes’ day or if I selfishly hoard this sugar for myself?”
“Grandmother always saw the glass half full,” Evelyn thought to herself as they exited the Conference Center.
On the drive home Evelyn asked her Beehive class what they had learned.
“To serve others,” was the unanimous response, “and not just at Christmastime.”
“There are many worthwhile and obvious opportunities to serve,” Evelyn told the girls. “But have you ever prayed for the spirit to guide you to someone who might be in need and no one knows it?” she asked. “My Grandma taught me to do this and when I’ve listened, I’m blessed with a feeling of true happiness.”
The girls decided to pray, as a class, for an opportunity to serve someone in need. The opportunity that they prayed for didn’t come right away. One Sunday in May, after the opening prayer, the girls began to talk about feelings they had been having about their friend Courtney, who was the only Beehive in her ward.
“Sister Smith, I’m worried about my friend Courtney. She hasn’t been to school in a week. I think she’s sick because she hasn’t been eating lunch at school,” Tiffany explained.
“When I asked her why she wasn’t eating, she said she didn’t have any lunch money,” Jennifer interjected. “But she wouldn’t eat any pizza at my birthday party either and pizza has always been her favorite food.”
With a plate of cookies in hand for Courtney, Evelyn rang the bell. When Sister Clark answered the door and looked at the offered cookies, she began to cry. “How can I help, Kathy?” Evelyn asked.
“Courtney has developed an eating disorder.” Kathy went on to explain, “She sees herself differently than others see her. It’s called ‘Body Image Distortion.’ Evelyn, why can’t she see the beautiful young woman she is?”
After Evelyn explained that the spirit had prompted her to come today, the two women felt strongly that the answer to all of their prayers was for Evelyn to visit Courtney in the hospital.
Evelyn’s heart ached for the emaciated young woman lying in the hospital bed. “Hi, Courtney. Do you remember me?” Evelyn asked. “I’m your friend Tiffany’s Beehive teacher. You came to our class once.”
Courtney turned away without saying a word. Evelyn sat down in the chair next to the bed. “Courtney, when I was just a little older than you, I thought I was fat too. Sometimes I still do,” she confided. “Did you know that Satan is the one who wants us to believe that we’re fat? I, refuse to ever give in to those lies again,” Evelyn resolved.
Courtney turned and looked at Evelyn. She was the most beautiful woman Courtney had ever seen. “How could she ever think she was fat?” she thought.
Evelyn continued to share her story with Courtney, “… One day when I was refusing to eat, I over heard my mother
praying for me, just like your mother has been praying for you. She pleaded with Heavenly Father for me to know that I was a beautiful daughter of God,” Evelyn explained. “It was then that the words to the song ‘The Lord Gave Me a Temple’ entered my head and when I looked in the mirror, I did see a beautiful daughter of God…”
“Courtney, my grandmother taught me that Heavenly Father sometimes answers prayers through another person’s service. Will you let me and my Beehive girls help Heavenly Father answer your mother’s prayers?” Evelyn asked.
Over the next few months Evelyn and the Beehive girls visited Courtney in the hospital, made her get-well cards, wrote her letters and even filmed little videos that made her laugh. They read scriptures and the New Era–and listened to President Monson’s talk that Evelyn had downloaded onto an mp3 player. Then one day Courtney held out her arms. “Look, Evelyn. No I.V. I’m eating all on my own now. I might get to go home next Friday.”
With tears of joy in her eyes, Evelyn opened her purse and took out a beautiful antique hand mirror. “I’ve been waiting for just the right moment to give this to you. Tell me,” she said, holding the mirror up for Courtney to see her reflection in it. “Do you see the beautiful daughter of God that I do?…”
Two weeks after Courtney came home from the hospital she invited Evelyn and the Beehive girls to her house.
“When we listened to President Monson’s talk in the hospital. The one that brought all of you to my rescue,”
Courtney said with a wink. “I knew just what I wanted to do to show you my gratitude.”
Courtney gave the group a large card she had made out of posterboard that read “Thank you for being there
for me when my life was cracked.”
Then Courtney and her mother served each of them a cold glass of milk with a slice of cracked shortbread cake.
by Margie Nauta Lee
“Often small acts of service are all that is required to lift and bless another.”
Playing the “SERVE” game is a fun way for your family to learn about many different ways to serve and bless the lives of others.
President Monson’s example of SERVICE at Christmas time is the inspiration behind this delicate treat. After reading the sweet story An Opportunity to Serve — SERVE your family “CRACKED SHORTBREAD” with a tall glass of milk!