The Christmas season is a time of compassion. Religious (and even secular) groups organize countless charitable activities. Schools host clothing drives; churches lead events to feed the homeless; choirs sing carols to those in care centers.
Many of us individually get caught up in the action as well. You might have headed up or shared a special fundraiser on Facebook for a child needing an operation, volunteered at a soup kitchen, donated blood, or doorbell-ditched presents for a single-parent family.
With so many important causes to which you might contribute, you might be overwhelmed wondering where to start. Where will your time, energy, and money do the most good?
When I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in the spring, I had all kinds of big ideas. I was practically handed a great job, at which I felt I could make a difference for children and instructors alike at the local technical college, as well as support my husband through the rest of his degree. I was accepted to a promising master’s program, motivated by the Lord’s counsel to “seek learning” out of the “best books words of wisdom” as well as the opportunity of becoming a better teacher and example for my future children. (Doctrine and Covenants 88:118)
I was sure God would help me achieve these noble goals!
To my surprise, with much prayer and fasting, I felt the Lord gently advise me not to pursue the job or grad school.
I shook off my disappointment. No matter! I told myself. This surely means I have the green light to put more time into more noble causes I’d also been dreaming of.
I was excited to pursue a couple specific prospects in teaching ESL (English as a Second Language), since I am so passionate about language, self-reliance, and helping the Spanish-speaking community. I began gearing up to launch a great YouTube channel, through which I could share my testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ with the world. I was also looking into ways to put my passion for the pro-life movement into action in my area.
And then my pregnancy happened, derailing all of these goals. (The Truth About Pregnancy)
As I began to pull out of the worst of it, I had to ask myself which goal I could begin to pursue, because I knew it couldn’t be all of them. I had to decide which cause was most worthy of my time.
In my soul-searching, I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t do anything more important than share Jesus with others. I decided that even if I had to reduce the scope of my YouTube channel for the moment, it was most important for me to prioritize launching this blog over my other passions.
Why preaching Jesus’ gospel trumps all other noble causes
Divorce. Bullying. Poverty. Lack of education. Insufficient healthcare. Racism. Abortion. Anxiety and depression. Hunger. Homelessness. Pornography.
There are so many problems in the world to solve! How can one choose between all the charitable causes available?
My claim is that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer to all of these.
Let me clarify: each of these problems may have a number of effective, individual solutions. However, the only universal solution is Jesus.
Therefore, I propose that, when it comes down to prioritizing your acts of service, put sharing the teachings of Jesus Christ first. It is the one surefire way to do the most good.
In scope of Earth’s entire history and geography, too few have even heard the name of Jesus. Those who have been blessed to know the reality, mission, and teachings of Jesus Christ have been granted a great and rare gift. Even more rare is the blessing of being members of His Church today, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
If you have been blessed with any measure of the truth of Jesus Christ, you have a great responsibility to share this knowledge.
As a missionary
It’s a wonderful thing that the Church provides opportunity for its young adults to serve full-time missions. These missions are primarily focused on sharing the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Many churches and organizations host mission trips; usually, they are primarily of a humanitarian nature, seeking to fulfill physical needs. While those trips are also excellent, valuable, and meaningful, there is something powerful about the prioritization of sharing the gospel.
As a missionary, I was encouraged to spend some time each week helping in the community, but I was to spend the majority of my time teaching faith in Jesus Christ and repentance through Him.
At first, I wondered why I was asked to limit the amount of time I spent on service activities. I enjoyed serving food at soup kitchens, helping people move, painting houses, and more.
But something struck me. In my unique role as a missionary, I had the ability to watch people choose to accept or reject the gospel and teachings of Jesus Christ, and I also observed the results of their choices. There was a clear correlation:
The measure to which people accepted and acted on the teachings of Christ determined to what measure they were blessed.
It was incredible to watch this phenomenon! As people accepted our invitations to learn about and follow Christ, seemingly unrelated parts of their lives began to fall into place. They gained power to quit smoking, received better employment opportunities, were able to make and stick to plans, found enough money to get by, experienced more peace in their families, and did better in school.
They were empowered to do and achieve good things because the Lord sent His Spirit to be with them. They had qualified themselves for the company of the Spirit, who can inspire any good thing. The Lord wishes for our success, but too often, we limit ourselves by not allowing Him to work in and with us.
The more we accept Christ, the more we qualify ourselves to receive the good things He already wishes to grant us in any area of life.
“The Spirit of truth is of God. I am the Spirit of truth, and John bore record of me, saying: He received a fulness of truth, yea, even of all truth;
“And no man receiveth a fulness unless he keepeth his commandments.”Doctrine and Covenants 93:26-27
To illustrate my point, let me explain how Christ is the solution to divorce, a rampant struggle for an increasing number of families.
Let us discuss those preparing for marriage, as a way Christ can prevent divorce early on. If those who are preparing to enter into marriage have accepted Christ and are trying to follow Him, they will follow His commands. Following His counsel to love selflessly, to cleave unto one’s spouse, and to always be honest are just a few examples of how following Him will set this couple up for success.
More importantly, as individuals seek to obey the Lord, they qualify themselves for the company of the Spirit, who He sends to comfort and to guide. The more time a person spends with the Spirit, the more they will receive and understand inspiration to do good and better things. This inspiration may come through scripture, prayer, personal promptings from the Spirit, and especially through some combination of the three.
In the case of one preparing for marriage, if they follow Christ, they will be guided to know whether they’ve chosen a good spouse or if they should end the relationship before marriage, how to most appropriately prepare to love and commit to the other person, and what behaviors they should avoid leading up to marriage.
Once the couple is married, if they are both committed to following Christ, following His commandments will also give them their best chance for success, as well as grant them the promptings of the Spirit to know what other specific actions they should take to ensure the security of their marriage. A couple might be both following Christ to the best of their abilities and experiencing marital problems. But as they qualify themselves for the Spirit, and listen to His promptings, they will understand what else they may need to do, including attending marriage therapy together, visiting a financial advisor, talking with their bishop, or just taking a dance class together.
I challenge you to ponder how else Christ is the solution for people in a number of other divorce situations: a man who wishes to follow Christ but his wife wants nothing to do with the marriage or Christ; a child of parents who are divorced; a woman whose husband has cheated on her; etc.
While some individuals may be rightly inspired to take specific action to combat divorce (i.e., become marriage therapists, begin a social media campaign promoting marital health, or donating to a local divorced single parent in need), the gospel of Jesus Christ is the single solution that can do the most good for families facing divorce.
Choosing how to serve
I want to be clear: we mustn’t only share the gospel of Jesus Christ. For truly:
“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”James 1:27
We are to act charitably and serve those around us, especially those less fortunate. But if we prioritize being like Christ, knowing His will, and sharing His gospel, we can do the most good. As we do so, we will receive our own increased measure of the Spirit and be inspired to know where we might do the most good.
It is good and honorable to choose an inspired area of charity to devote time and energy to. The Lord has said we “should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of [our] own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness.” (Doctrine and Covenants 58:27) Some have specific callings to help children, the elderly, or the homeless. Others may feel inspired to devote their life to improving healthcare or politics. That’s great!
Including sharing the gospel in your plan to serve will improve the effectiveness of any other cause you take up as well as do the most good for individuals and the world.
But if you must choose between one or the other, choose to share the gospel.
As we do our part to share the good news of Christ this Christmas and all year, society as a whole will qualify to have the blessings of heaven come upon them more abundantly. Truly we can be as Nephi foresaw:
“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.”1 Nephi 14:14
What do you think?
What other problems do the world face that can be solved by sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ? How? Have you felt a personal calling to a cause? How can sharing Jesus’ gospel help your cause?