Recently, I had scheduled a home teaching appointment. I was tired. It was cold outside. I wasn't feeling especially spiritual. I really didn't want to go. I went.
I had a great visit with my home teaching families. The message I gave was inspiring to me, the families seemed appreciative, and I felt as though I were representing the bishop and the Lord. My love for the families was genuine, and my faith in home teaching was strengthened.A few months ago, I had an assignment at 2:30 Saturday morning at the Church cannery. I had forgotten all about it. I was worn out from a long week. I had just walked in the door Friday night at 10:30 when I suddenly remembered my commitment. I made a phone call to see if, by some miracle, the assignment had been canceled. It wasn't. I just did not want to go. I went.
It was pleasant to talk to the priesthood brother who went with me. We processed fruit, and I thought of families I had known in my life who could benefit from this food. I felt like I was really making a sacrifice for those in need. I wasn't as tired as I thought, and I felt good. My love for those in need was real, and my faith in the welfare program grew.
On the day after Thanksgiving this year, our family had arranged to do temple work for some of our own ancestors. The baptisms were scheduled for 7 a.m. We had a great Thanksgiving Day, and after the feast and the fun, I was full and tired and ready to relax during my holiday vacation. It was cold the next morning and the roads were somewhat icy. I really didn't want to get up so early in the morning and travel 30 minutes to the temple. I went.
As always, the temple was beautiful and peaceful. The workers there were loving and kind. It was great being with family. We felt the spirit of the temple and of our loved ones who had passed away and had been waiting so long for us. We did baptisms, confirmations, initiatory work and sealings. It was one of the most blessed experiences of my life. I was filled with love for my earthly family, my ancestors, and for my heavenly family. I received a stronger testimony of eternal relationships because of our service that day. My faith in the spirit of family history and temple work increased.
Service. It sometimes seems as if that is all we do, and at the same time, as though we will never be able to do enough. How can service build our faith?
If, as we read in Heb. 11:1, faith is "the evidence of things not seen," then the evidence of faith is service. True faith requires action or service. True service gives back those things which are "not seen," things like blessings in heaven, a better world, or a good feeling inside. Thus, faith and service, like love and service, build on each other. The more we cultivate love and faith, the greater our desire to serve. The more we serve others, the more love we feel and the more faith we have.
In James 2:14-18 we read about faith and works (service). James clearly explains we must do service (works) or our faith is worth nothing. When we give true service without expecting money or other rewards of mortality, we are focusing on the things we cannot see, or on things of more lasting significance, things that are eternal.
Sometimes performing an act of service can seem like just another task, an additional burden. It has been helpful for me to realize that many things I am already doing provide service to others. As we effectively care for our home teaching or visiting teaching families, we are providing a lot of meaningful service. We perform much Christian service in our own families. Living the gospel is service.
There are many needs in the world, and we cannot meet them all, but each one of us can meet a few. Small acts of kindness, love and understanding eventually can produce great results. Besides, the great work of the Kingdom is done one on one, up close and personal. Though we benefit from Church talks, conferences and lessons, service is usually more effective than sermons for touching and changing lives. Kindness does more than conference, and priesthood blessings more than priesthood lessons.
It is arguable that service can be done without a willing heart. It is true we may perform labor to benefit others, and do it with resentment. But true service implies giving with a glad heart, giving for the sake of others. It is service, rather than merely doing things, that exalts. It is doubtful that the mere performance of duties does much for either the giver or the receiver.
Since we know of God largely through faith, when we serve others and Him we are acting on and building that faith.
The faith that saves also is based in the Savior, Jesus Christ. We cannot have faith in Him without following Him. What was the life of the Savior if it wasn't a life of service?
We are here to live by faith and to learn to become like our Heavenly Father. Our faith increases and we grow by doing the things He does - by serving.
May our faith in our Heavenly Father and His Son be strengthened through serving them by willingly giving of ourselves to each other. May we come to know our Heavenly Father and have the life He has because we have done the things that He does. Service truly will build our faith in Him because service is His work.