President Thomas S. Monson: 'Jesus invites us to give of ourselves'

There is no better time than now, this very Christmas season, for Church members to rededicate themselves to the principles taught by Jesus the Christ, President Thomas S. Monson counseled at the First Presidency Christmas Devotional Dec. 6.

"It is the time to love the Lord, our God, with all our heart — and our neighbors as ourselves," said President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency.

As he began his address, President Monson noted that with the birth of the babe in Bethlehem, "there emerged a great endowment, a power stronger than weapons, a wealth more lasting than the coins of Caesar."

"This child," he said, "was to be the King of kings and the Lord of lords, the Promised Messiah — even Jesus Christ, the Son of God."

During His earthly ministry, explained President Monson, Jesus caused the lame to walk, the blind to see, the deaf to hear and even raised the dead to life.

"What was the reaction to His message of mercy, His words of wisdom, His lessons of life? There were a precious few who appreciated Him. They bathed His feet. They learned His word. They followed His example."

President Monson declared that down through the generations of time, the message from Jesus has been the same: "Follow me."

"As we follow in His steps today, we too will have an opportunity to bless the lives of others," he continued. "Jesus invites us to give of ourselves."

President Monson said that while opportunities to give are limitless, they are also perishable. "There are hearts to gladden. There are kind words to say. There are gifts to be given. There are deeds to be done. There are souls to be saved.

"A wise Christian," President Monson said, "once urged, 'Let us not spend Christmas . . . but let us keep Christmas in our hearts and in our lives.' When we keep the spirit of Christmas, we keep the spirit of Christ, for the Christmas spirit is the Christ spirit."

President Monson testified that the Lord Jesus Christ speaks to every troubled heart and bestows the gift of peace.

"He sends forth His word through the many thousands of missionaries serving far and wide proclaiming His gospel of good tidings and salutation of peace. . . . Frustration flees, doubt disappears and wonder wanes when truth is taught in boldness, yet in a spirit of humility, by those who have been called to serve the Prince of Peace — even the Lord Jesus Christ."

President Monson then shared three examples of true giving learned from the experiences of the three most recent presidents of the Church, with whom he served as a counselor in the First Presidency.

First, from President Ezra Taft Benson: After World War II, President Benson "was to leave his wife and family and go to the devastated members of the Church in Germany and other nations. Through the God-inspired welfare program, he literally fed the hungry, comforted the weeping and lifted closer to Heaven all with whom he met," said President Monson.

Second, from President Howard W. Hunter: On one occasion, recounted President Monson, President Hunter dealt with a particularly tragic and difficult situation. "At length he said, 'I have always liked to lift people, rather than put them down, to show them the way of the Lord, that they might follow Him.' Subsequently, the gift of forgiveness, the gift of compassion, the gift of encouragement were freely given to the distressed couple by this saintly leader."

Third, from President Gordon B. Hinckley: President Monson said that as a much-traveled prophet, President Hinckley has shared his testimony throughout the world. Recently, President Hinckley returned from Central America where he visited those suffering from rampaging floods which engulfed homes and fields. "President Hinckley returned from his three-day trip rejoicing in a welfare program which works. He met with the members. He met with the missionaries. He complimented throngs who were at work cleaning up the debris which once was homes.

"President Hinckley gave them encouragement and assurances of additional assistance, but more than this, he gave to them himself."

President Monson concluded: "It is well to remember that he who gives money gives much; he who gives time gives more; but he who gives of himself gives all. Let this be a description of our Christmas gifts."

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