Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » How We Taught the New Testament in the Past: Lesson 14: “Who Is My Neighbour?”

How We Taught the New Testament in the Past: Lesson 14: “Who Is My Neighbour?”

By: Ardis E. Parshall - March 20, 2011

Lesson 14: “Who Is My Neighbour?”

The purpose of the lesson in our current manual is “To help class members humble themselves, forgive others, and show charity for one another,” drawing on the parables of the unmerciful servant and the Good Samaritan as examples. A related lesson from the 1970-71 Sunday School manual for 18-year-olds teaches some of the same ideas, but from the point of view of how the church is organized to enable us to serve those we are responsible for, and that sharing the gospel is a form of charitable service.

A Divine Commission

”I have chosen you …” (John 15:16.)

As Jesus Saw It

A lawyer tried to tempt Jesus by asking, “… who is my neighbour?”

In answer the Lord related the following 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 a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
and he went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

He then asked the lawyer, “Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?” (Luke 10:29-36.) Another question could well be asked concerning the worthiness of the conduct of the two men in the story who professed to bear the priesthood of God.

In Today’s Setting

Suppose we produce a twentieth-century parallel to the first three verses of the Savior’s parable:

Once there was a faithful Latter-day Saint named Jim whose wife and children all were very ill. he found that he needed someone to come and help him with some urgent tasks in the home.
He turned first to his home teacher for help, but the latter was preparing a talk on service to one’s fellows, to be given in the next sacrament meeting, so he did not have time to come.
He then called his quorum leader for help, but he said he couldn’t come because he had to attend the ward welfare committee meeting.

Perhaps it is not necessary to complete this modern counterpart of the parable of the Good Samaritan to raise the question as to how we can best use our priesthood in the service of others.

The Master’s Way

As the Savior contemplated the extent of the work to be done, he remarked to his disciples:

The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;
Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. (Matt. 9;37-38.

He called twelve of these disciples to him and gave them the divine commission to serve as apostles. On a later occasion he reminded them: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit …” (John 15:16.) This same thought was again expressed by Paul in the Epistle to the Hebrews: “… no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God ….” (Heb. 5:4.)

Certainly the calling of the apostleship carried with it tremendous responsibilities, and it would undoubtedly bring honor and respect to those occupying this office. but the Lord viewed such callings in another perspective. When the mother of James and John asked that her sons might sit in positions of honor next to the Lord in his kingdom, he reminded them:

…. whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Matt. 20:26-28.)

On a later occasion Christ referred to those who sought to occupy seats of honor and to attract the acclaim of men, and then observed:

… he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. (Matt. 23:11-12.)

Just before his ascension, Jesus sought to orient his apostles for their work and challenged them by asking:

Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

The Lord repeated the same question two more times and received even more emphatic responses from Simon Peter; each time the Savior responded, “feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17.) thus in his final commission to the apostles, the Redeemer stressed that the burden of their calling was to serve others.

This same challenging message has been echoed by his followers. Paul reminded the Galatian saints:

… by love serve one another.
For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Ga. 5:13-14.)

In his great sermon recorded in the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin reminded his people:

… 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. (Mosiah 2:17.)

Using one’s priesthood or Church callings to serve others is not without its own reward. In his original commission to the twelve, Christ instructed them that “he that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matt. 10:39; compare 16:25.)

Walking in His Steps

Unless we are able to apply the Savior’s precepts and example to our lives, we have not received the full benefit from our study of his life. If we are to bless others through our priesthood or Churc service, we must take specific steps to implement the principles we learn from the Lord.

Church Organized to Give Service

As noted in Chapter 7, when a person is baptized, not only does he accept the gospel, but in a very real sense he also joins the Church. The older Alma explained one obligation of Church membership to a group of new converts as follows:

… as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.
… if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you? (Mosiah 18:8-10.)

The officers in the Church of Alma’s day set the example of service by sustaining themselves and by rendering service to the people rather than requiring support from them. (Mosiah 18:26.)

The apostle Paul noted that one purpose of the Church and of Church officials is the “perfecting of the saints.” (Eph. 4:11-12.) This can be accomplished only if all render service to each other. Thus the Church has been organized to direct the efforts of many individuals toward the common aim of helping us all attain the great goals that are ours as the children of God. it is significant to note, for example, that one of the prime responsibilities of organized priesthood quorums is “to provide opportunities for church service.” [Melchizedek Priesthood Handbook, 1964, p. 19.]

Total Dedication Necessary

A vital requirement for effective service is total dedication to the cause of righteousness. In contrast to the saying that “a fanatic is one who doubles his speed after he has lost his direction,” the true servant of the Lord is one who puts forth his best effort because he has the lofty goal clearly in mind. Joshua expressed the need for definite direction in this challenge: “… choose you this day whom ye will serve …’ but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” 9Josh. 24:15.) The Savior summed up the concept in this way:

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Matt. 6;24.)

The same idea is conveyed by such scriptural phrases as “eye single” or “singleness of heart.”

Once one has decided whom he will serve, the next thing is to decide how he will serve. Christ answered this question when he directed:

Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of god, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day. (D&C 4:2.)

We might well ponder what is implied by each of the words the Lord used to describe the type of service he requires. Section 4 of the Doctrine and Covenants as a whole is an excellent description of the qualities and attributes that fit one for the Lord’s work.

This quality of total dedication in the Lord’s service is very well set forth in these words given by the Lord in our own day:

For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.

Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness. (D&C 58:26-27.)

Dependability is another essential ingredient in worthy service. Let us honestly consider our own service in the Church as we read this parable given by Jesus:

But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.

He answered and said, I will not; but afterward he repented, and went.

And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir; and went not.

Whether of them twain did the will of his father? (Matt. 21:28-31.)

Responsibility for Those We Serve

Those who enter the Lord’s service assume a degree of responsibility for the welfare of those whom they are to serve. Consider the implications of this story from the Old Testament:

Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,

Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman;

If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people;

Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.

He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.

But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.

So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. (Ezek. 33:1-7.)

In the Book of Mormon we read how Jacob and his brother Joseph regarded their call to serve:

… we did magnify our office unto the Lord, taking upon us the responsibility, answering the sins of the people upon our own heads if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence; wherefore, by laboring with our might their blood might not come upon our garments; otherwise their blood would come upon our garments, and we would not be found spotless at the last day. (Jac. 1:19.)

Elder Boyd K. Packer related an experience he had as a student pilot:

We had been taught the various maneuvers: stalls, loops, spins, chandelles. In order to lose altitude to enter the flight pattern I decided to put the plane into a practice spin – the quickest way, of course, to lose altitude. the procedure was followed and the plane entered a normal spin.

Somehow in making the recover from the spin … I was clumsy and over-corrected. Instead of a recovery, the plane shuddered violently, stalled, and then flipped over into a secondary spin.

Never have I known such panic – before or sin. I found myself clawing at the controls. Finally the plane pulled out in a long, sweeping skid, just feet above the desert floor.

Elder Packer told how he learned from another student pilot that his instructor had taught him how to avoid the danger of a clumsy recovery from a spin, but realized that his own instructor had failed to do so. He continued:

There arose in me an intense resentment for my instructor. Why hadn’t he told us? Why hadn’t he warned us? Another second or two in that spin and – … His negligence as an instructor had come that close to costing me my life. Great responsibility rests upon those of us who are teachers …

A Key to Success in the Ministry

While instructing his apostles, the Savior compared himself to “the true vine.” He noted that the “husbandman,” in other words, his Father, cuts off those branches which do not produce fruit, while he prunes and cultivates those which do produce. The Savior taught that all of us who profess to be his servants must preserve a close relationship with him, that they might enjoy the strengthening presence of the Spirit:

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. (John 15:1-5.)

A beautiful statement of this ideal, close relationship between the Lord and his servants is found in modern revelation:

And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up. (D&C 84:88.)

The Opportunities of Priesthood Service

In a general conference address, President Joseph Fielding Smith ably summed up the true spirit of priesthood service:

Serving others is its own reward. When we receive the priesthood, we do so with the understanding that it will be used for the benefit of others. … Priesthood blesses us in two ways: first, it is the means through which exaltation comes to those who hold it; second, it is to be used in behalf of others that they also may be blessed. No man is independent. … No man has been given the priesthood as an ornament only. He is expected to use it in behalf of the salvation of others.

Not only is he expected, but he is commanded to do so.

The above echoes sentiments earlier expressed by President Wilford Woodruff:

The highest calling the Lord ever called any human being to, in any age of the world, has been to receive the Holy Priesthood, with its keys and powers.

And further,

… I believe that every man, every set of men, and every people will be held responsible, in time and eternity, for the use they have made of the gifts, blessings, and promises which have been given unto them.

In summary, President David O. McKay has defined unselfish service as “the grand principle of applied gospel ‘science.’” President McKay continued:

“We live our lives most completely when we strive to make the world better and happier.” The law of pure nature, survival of the fittest, is self-preservation at the sacrifice of all else; but in contrast to this the law of true spiritual life is, deny self for the good of others.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accepts as fundamental this law of life. Faithful members thereof are convinced that only in its application can true happiness be found or a truly great character be developed.

Loving Means Sharing

“Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matt. 22:39.)

As Jesus Saw It

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. (Matt. 13-45-46l.)

Jesus said unto him, 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. 22:37-39.)

In Today’s Setting

When our Prophet and President David O. McKay said, “Every member a missionary,” he was not making an idle statement nor a suggestion to follow at mere convenience. This is a commandment from our Heavenly Father to help accomplish his work in these latter days. President David O. McKay concluded: “God help us to be true to our responsibility, to our callings, and especially to the responsibility we have of bringing the glad tidings of the gospel to our friends and neighbors.” [David O. McKay, remarks recorded April 14, 1961, for a motion picture film entitled “Every Member a Missionary.” See Millennial Star, October 1961, p. 469.] To accomplish this work, two “golden questions” have been suggested. “What do you know about the Mormon Church?” and “Would you like to know more?” [Franklin D. Richards, “I Pledge Myself,” The Improvement Era, December 1960, p. 926.]

Della would have liked to have considered herself exempt. After all, she was expecting her seventh child and her oldest was only six. To complicate her busy schedule she had just recently moved to the midwestern United States.

Della knew in her heart that asking these golden questions was hard for her to do. She felt uncomfortable whenever she thought about it. Then as she was set apart for another position, she was reminded to ask these golden questions; and she was promised that if she did ask them, many people would join the Church as the result of her efforts. Now there was no more question about it. Della knew she must find time to do this.

When would she be able to fulfill this obligation? As she talked this problem over with her husband, Della discovered that she had many uninvited guests who came to their home. There was the Avon lady, the census taker, and other salesmen. Repairmen, the milkman, the postman, and others kept her busy funning to the door. Why not utilize these opportunities to ask the golden questions? Then, too, the phone was frequently ringing for one matter or another. It would only add a minute more to use this medium to ask those golden questions.

But could she do it? Della worried about this. “Why is it so difficult for me to ask such simple questions?” Della asked Gus, her husband. “Am I ashamed of the gospel or afraid of offending others? And yet how can I offend? If I truly love the gospel of Christ and spread it as he did, surely I can be brave enough to ask those questions.”

Determined to fulfill this responsibility, Della made a personal resolution: “The next time the door bell rings I’ll ask them.” In the middle of her very busy morning the doorbell rang. Della opened the door remembering very well her personal commitment. As she invited the Avon lady in, she blurted out quickly, “I am a Mormon.”

“Oh,” the Avon lady replied. “All of our family are Catholic, but I have a distant relative who is a Mormon, and we have all admired the ideals that she has; and I once had a friend who was a Mormon who lost her leg. She has such faith and hope and such a fine outlook on life in spite of her problems. I have really admired her.”

Della knew in her heart that it would have been so logical to ask, “Would you like to know more about the Mormon Church?” but because of her timidity and inexperience she hesitated, and the conversation moved on to other areas.

After the Avon lady had left, Della was angry at herself for not finishing the job she had so bravely begun. “I won’t do that again,” she thought to herself.

Later in the day the doorbell rang again. Della went to answer it with renewed convictions. A gentleman stood at the door making an inquiry about directions. After she had answered his questions, Della asked him, “How much do you know about the Mormon Church?”

“Not much,” he replied.

This time Della went on, “Would you like to know more?”

“Why, yes, I would,” was the instant reply.

Della was so surprised that he had really said yes that she stuttered and stammered and said, “Well, I hope you’ll come over some time.”

The man wrote down her name and address and, of course, never came.

Della and Gus discussed her experience and decided that she needed to be prepared with some answers to meet certain situations. She decided on the following course of action:

1. Get the name and address of the interested person,.

2. Arrange a specific appointment with the missionaries. Della found it was easy to say, “Could you come over to my home tomorrow evening? I have some other friends coming who would love to talk to you about the Church.”

3. If they said “Yes,” but they didn’t want to make an appointment, missionaries recommended such literature as “The Joseph Smith Story” or “Which Church Is Right?” By having their names and addresses she could still follow through.

4. If the person said, “No, I’m not interested,” Della would have in mind another topic of conversation to change to immediately.

This really worked. In some cases Della was able to make appointments. She distributed a great deal of literature and found much to her surprise that no one was offended. Instead, her circle of friends increased.

Della went on to explore additional opportunities. She found by changing grocery stores she could meet new people and ask more golden questions. She found opportunities when she sat next to someone at the doctor’s office or at PTA meeting. Gus, too, found himself involved in the project.

Occasionally Della would have attacks of fear. She silently revised her approach for the repairman so many times that he left before she had a chance to actually ask the questions. But she continued with renewed determination after each such encounter. What a joy it was when one family, whom Mormon neighbors had said would never join the Church because they would turn the missionaries away in the past, accepted with interest the appointment that Della and Gus set up and within three weeks became new active members of the Church.

Now several years later Della and Gus had learned the joy of sharing the gospel with others. They had learned that love for others means sharing with them that which they prized most – the gospel. Thoughtfully, prayerfully, and with determination they had worked together to meet each new situation that asking the golden questions brought their way. Now they were moving back to Utah – the heart of the Church. Will they continue sharing the gospel with others as they had done and as Jesus did? Or perhaps will they become too busy and lose contact as their Mormon friends involve them in Mormon functions? Just how precious is the gospel? Are we willing to take the time and exercise the determination necessary to share it with others?

The Master’s Way

The Priceless Nature of the Gospel

By observing Jesus’ own example we see that throughout his life upon the earth he put first the kingdom of heaven and “his Father’s business” to the exclusion of all social or worldly pleasures. when he had the opportunity to choose worldly power and wealth over following his Father’s plan, he rejected Satan and chose that which was of the most worth – the gospel plan. Later he could have protected hsi own life, but again with courage and with his full and complete understanding of the priceless nature of the gospel, he bent with his own consent to the sacrifice of his own life on this earth. Surely he knew, comprehended, and understood the priceless nature of the gospel and its eternal plan.

When Jesus told the Parable of the Pearl of Great Price, quoted at the beginning of this lesson, we see again how he must have felt. The man in the parable, who searched and finally found the pearl that excelled all others, gladly sold “all that he had” to obtain it. This man recognized the true value of the pearl. Jesus in telling the parable emphasized to those who listened the true worth of the gospel he preached.

Importance of Spreading the Gospel in Christ’s Time

Understanding Christ’s realization of the priceless nature of the gospel and of the love that he felt for all of his “neighbors,” it becomes easy to feel his concern that this gospel be taught even after his coming death. Near the end of his ministry Christ said to Peter,

Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17.)

Here Jesus was emphasizing by repetition the importance of sharing the gospel with others by teaching them.

Jesus expressed sincere concern for any person who did not embrace the gospel. He said:

How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?…

Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish. (Matt 18:12, 14.)

After his resurrection and as the time of his ascension drew nigh, Jesus said unto the eleven apostles: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15.) Brother James E. Talmage in Jesus the Christ points out that this was in contrast with their earlier commission under which they were only “to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” [Talmage, Jesus the Christ, p. 695.] (Matt. 10:6.) now they were to go to Jew and gentile, bond and free, to mankind at large of whatever nation, country, or tongue.

The Readiness of the World Today

In the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 4, verse 4, Jesus makes it clear that

… the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul.

In this modern-day book of scripture Christ repeats this message over and over. The time is indeed nigh when the people in every nation need to be taught. President McKay has told the members of the Church the important place that each member should have in this eternal plan. He has said, “Every m ember a missionary.” It is our task an dour privilege to see that this is done.

In answer to a request by John Whitmer to know that which would be of greatest worth to him, Jesus gave a revelation, Doctrine and Covenants 15:6, saying:

… the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father.

He gave a similar message to Peter Whitmer, Jun. in Section 16, emphasizing again the importance of sharing the gospel and of teaching others.

Fear of Man

Fear of man did not hinder Christ in his work. He taught in public places when he knew the Pharisees and others were scheming to condemn him by the words that he used. In righteous indignation he cleared the temple of its money changers. The fear of man did not stop him. He did what needed to be done. He did the will of his Father in heaven.

Walking in His Steps

We too need to realize the priceless nature of the gospel as well as the importance of loving our neighbors enough that we will take the time and exercise the determination necessary to share the gospel with them. If we do this, then we too will be actively concerned about those not “in his fold.”

The world is indeed “white and ready for the harvest,” and the charge to action has been given by President McKay.

Surely it is easier for us to fulfill this commandment to share the gospel with others and to ask the golden questions than it was for Christ to teach the Pharisees and Sadducees. We are all aware of the persecution of the apostles as they continued to share the gospel with others. This is not our lot in this prosperous time.

Even our early Church members were required to make great personal sacrifices in order to share the gospel with others. Joseph smith was teased, taunted, tarred and feathered, and finally killed. The members were belittled, driven from their homes, persecuted, and many of them were also killed.

There is some interesting information in the History of the Church, Volume 1, page 44, which infers that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were the first missionaries of the Church and had a deep desire to preach the gospel to their friends. Despite the opposition that was gathering against them, the missionary spirit would not be stilled. Joseph, in speaking of their baptism, says:

After a few days, … feeling it to be our duty, we commenced to reason out the Scriptures with our acquaintances and friends, as we happened to meet with them.

Men such as Brigham Young were called on foreign missions when their families were in dire circumstances. Brigham Young was so ill when he left for his mission to England that he could not go a distance of thirty rods (about a block) without assistance. He continued to be sick long after he boarded the boat for England. “He left his wife sick with a babe only three weeks old, and all of his other children were sick and unable to wait upon each other.” Elder Wilford Woodruff expressed the opinion that because most of the missionaries became ill as they prepared to go, he felt it was the destroyer determined to stop them. he went on to relate the trying circumstances of his own leaving, as well as that of others.

In these latter days we are not asked to make such personal sacrifice. We are only asked to love our neighbor enough that we will put aside the fear of man and ask the golden questions. When we realize others have endured so many more hardships to fulfill this same commandment, is this so much to ask as we strive to do as Jesus did? Just as faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the first principle of the Lord, fear is a principle of the devil. When you turn on a light in a darkened room, darkness is banished. Just as darkness cannot be where light is, Satan has been banished from the Lord’s presence, for the spirit of evil cannot be where the Lord is. when doing missionary work, we must use the Lord’s principle of faith and overcome fear, because we cannot do the Lord’s work with the devil’s tools. We can conclude that where there is faith, there can be no fear; and where there is fear, there can be no faith; and faith in Christ is the first principle of success in missionary endeavors.

President Heber J. Grant endorses experiences such as Della’s when he reminds us that “that which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do; not that the nature of the thing itself is changed, but that our power to do is increased.”

If we are to follow in the steps of Jesus and share the gospel with others we need to first make a personal commitment to ourselves to put aside our fears and take the time to ask the golden questions. We need to analyze our opportunities and then exercise the courage and fortitude it takes to ask these questions. By preparing ourselves with Della’s plan of first getting the name and address; second, attempting to set up an appointment; third, distributing literature; and fourth, having another topic of conversation in mind in case the person is not interested, we cannot fail.

Let us remember the words of a poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox. It is similar in theme to the 7th verse of the 9th section of the Doctrine and Covenants: “behold, … you have supposed that I would give unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.”

Lean on thyself until thy strength is tried;
Then ask God’s help; it will not be denied.

Use thine own sight to see the way to go;
When darkness falls ask God the path to show.

Think for thyself and reason out thy plan;
God has his work and thou hast thine, oh, man.

Exert thy will and use it for control;
God gave thee jurisdiction of thy soul.

All thine immortal powers bring into play;
Think, act, strive, reason, then look up and pray.

[Ella Wheeler Wilcox, “Prayer,” New Thought Pastels, 1906, p. 169; published under title Poems of Progress (Chicago: W.B. Conkley Co., 1909).]


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