Monday, August 27, 2007

Service, Story Time

Twice, now, in as many weeks, I’ve been face-to face with beggars. For some reason, I always feel funny. A big part of me always wants to go over and give some money. I usually do. At the same time, a big part of me is conscious of a lot of social pressure not to.

We’re not really helping them, we’re told. We should give to organizations and shelters, not to beggars. They’ll just use the money unwisely. And this is not just the external society I’m hearing. These are people in the church talking this way.

But the scriptures continuously tell us to “turn not the beggar away”, and Mosiah tells us “we are all beggars” before God.

So, why am I embarrassed to walk over and hand them my spare change?

Maybe I’m embarrassed because that’s all I give. Maybe I’m embarrassed that I have so much, and that so much of it is trivial nonsense, and they seem to have so little. I’ve probably spent hundreds of dollars in the last year on game cards, for example. And there I see someone who has no work, no shelter, no life.

Maybe I’m embarrassed that so many others are critical of the beggars, and so I, too, can be the brunt of their judgment. But ultimately, that would be a good thing, wouldn’t it? If I could take their scorn?

I don’t know. But I still like to go and throw a few coins or bills their way.

A couple of stories come to mind.

One of them was given me by a good friend, and is posted at his website:

A re-write of a Biblical Parable:

A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half-dead.

And by chance there came down that way the man's stake president: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side, saying: "I'm sure glad I'm not his bishop."

And likewise the man's bishop, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, stopping and watching for signs of self-reliance. Seeing none, he passed by on the other side.

And likewise the man's quorum leader, when he was at the place, did take out his cell phone and did leave a voice message for the home teacher. And the man's home teacher, when he did hear the message, did sigh exceedingly, knowing there was nothing he could do - having made his quarterly visit the month before.

And finally did the Relief Society president pass by, determining immediately to call the Compassionate Service leader to have the sisters deliver a meal to the dying man's family.

Which now of these, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?

The other one, I don’t have a source for.

It’s a story of a sermon given by a preacher in church one Sunday. He’d spent the morning meeting with some of the poor members of his congregation, and hearing their sad circumstances, and their struggles. As he walked into the chapel to start the meeting, he shared their frustration and then got angry.

When the time came for him to stand and deliver his sermon, he began by saying, “There are people in our very congregation who will go hungry tonight, and most of you don’t give a $%#!”

A hush swept the chapel, and he continued. “…But what really gets me angry is that you were all more shocked when I said the word $%# than you were when I said that there were people in our very congregation going hungry tonight.”

And then he walked out and the meeting was over.

So, I’m fully aware, as I’m writing this, who I’m incriminating. I’m not certain that I would be the Samaritan to help the man and pay for his treatment. I’m not certain that I would be shocked about the news of people going hungry, but I know I’d be shocked if my bishop swore from the pulpit.

Would I be shocked into action?

Mark Hansen

Tuesday, August 07, 2007



Sex and Money

THAT ought to get people’s attention…

One of my favorite scriptures of all is D&C 130: 20-21:

“There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—

“And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.”

And the reason why I love it is that it explains so much about why we have commandments. Match this one up with this one from King Benjamin, in Mosiah Chapter 2, starting in v21:

“I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.

“And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.

“And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.

“And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?”

OK, here’s where I’m going with this.

There are two laws that I’ve had experience with that have demonstrated this principle to me. One is the law of Tithing, the other is the law of Chastity. The interesting thing is that they show the principle in different ways, and at different times.

First, tithing, since that’s what I was setting myself up to talk about first anyway. There was a time in my life when I was doing music full-time. Each week, the survival of our family relied on my ability to find recording and live sound projects. And each week, I relied on paying my tithing to help me. I could see it as a direct correlation. The weeks I paid my tithing, I had gigs. The weeks where I forgot, it was slow. It was that obvious.

I didn’t get rich. But I was able to take care of my family. I have a powerful, first hand testimony of the value of paying tithing. By that, I mean, the value of me paying my tithing. The Lord doesn’t need my money. The church doesn’t need my money. I need to share what I have so that the Lord can open the windows of heaven and bless me.

Now, contrast that with the Law of Chastity. The only woman I have ever touched or made love to is my wife, and we didn’t do that until after the pronouncement of the blessings (a temple wedding ceremony lasts about 2 minutes and is one of the most powerful blessings ever conferred on humans). I grew up (in my teens and early 20’s) around a lot of people who were sexually active. They often wondered why I didn’t want to get involved in that. I often wondered myself. I just knew that I had been told that it’s right not to (yet), and that at some point it would be right, and that I needed to wait until then.

Unlike the immediate experience I had with the blessings of tithing, I didn’t understand the full impact of the law of chastity until years into my own marriage. That was when I saw many of my friends and my acquaintances lose their marriages, their stability, and their happiness to a lack of fidelity and jealousy. I saw that living the law had preserved me from all that.

So, my point here is: Sometimes we see immediate results. Sometimes we take life on faith. In the end, we reap what we sow.

Mark Hansen


Related Posts with Thumbnails