Too often in the world today, we hear people bragging of how they “won” and gained more power for themselves. They often do so by hurting or manipulating someone else to get their way, or by using any number of cruel methods. But what about nice things that we do for people?
Sure, the Savior told us that we shouldn’t do good things and then go around bragging about them in order to get recognition and gain power for ourselves that way (“Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” (Matthew 6:2)), but shouldn’t acts of kindness carry more power with them than acts of unkindness?
Today I was returning a big stack of library books to the library. I’d purposely taken them to a book drop I could park by, because otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to carry all the books. (It did not occur to me until later that I could have carried my books in a bag.) When I got to the book drop, I realized that I was going to have to free up one of my hands somehow in order to pull down the door and put the books in. Just as I was wondering exactly how I would do this, a man stopped and opened the door on the book drop for me. He was very cheerful, and I thanked him, and I left feeling happier than I’d been when I started.
He could have pretended he didn’t see me. He could have told himself he was in a hurry and he couldn’t help me. He could have refused to help me because, after all, it was my own fault I’d carried so many books to the book drop with me. Any of these excuses would have allowed him to finish his own errands more quickly. I’m sure I’ve made similar excuses myself numerous times.
But he didn’t. It wasn’t a big thing that he did, and I probably even could have figured out a way to get my books in the book drop myself. But his kind deed left me feeling good. It left me in a mood to turn around and do something nice for someone else. Just think of the power that even one good deed can create if each recipient goes and helps someone else.
King Benjamin, a prophet in the Book of Mormon, gave a powerful speech on the importance of helping others. He said, in part:
16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.
17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—
18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.
19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind? (Mosiah 4:16-19)
Here King Benjamin is telling us that as disciples of Jesus Christ, we must help others. That is what the Savior Himself would do. And even though sometimes people bring upon themselves their misery, it is not our place to determine whether someone needs help or not. For, in the end, we are all beggars. The Lord has given each of us everything that we have; we did not create it ourselves.
This post was originally published in 2007. Minor changes have been made.