What Matters Most

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Question: What will matter most when you stand before Christ?

Answer: The Savior has said, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Our service to others is what will matter the most, as it encompasses the two great commandments to love God and to love your neighbor.

Matthew 25:31-46

31 When the Son of man (Jesus) shall come in his glory (the Second Coming), and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

33 And he shall set the sheep (righteous) on his right hand, but the goats (wicked) on the left.

34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand (In Jewish symbolism, the right hand is the covenant hand), Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom(celestial kingdom) prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

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35 For I was an hungred (hungry), and ye gave me meat (food): I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40 And the King (Christ) shall answer and say unto them, Verily (listen carefully) I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand (wicked), Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire (hell), prepared for the devil and his angels:

42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat (food): I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee (take care of your needs)?

45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal (celestial glory).

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Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric:

Approximately 18 months ago, in the fall of 2017, my 64-year-old brother Mike informed me that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He also told me that he had received a priesthood blessing from his home teacher and that he had met with his bishop. He later texted me a picture of the Oakland California Temple taken from the hospital where he was receiving treatment, with the caption “Look what I can see from my hospital room.”

I was as surprised by his comments about home teachers, priesthood blessings, bishops, and temples as I was about the cancer. You see, Mike, a priest in the Aaronic Priesthood, hadn’t regularly attended church for close to 50 years.

As a family, we were almost as intrigued with his spiritual progress as we were with his progress in fighting the cancer, largely because of his now frequent questions about the Book of Mormon, the sealing power, and life after death. As the months passed and the cancer spread, a need for additional and more specialized treatment eventually brought Mike to Utah and the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

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Shortly after his arrival, Mike was visited by John Holbrook, the ward mission leader of the ward that served the care facility where he was now living. John commented that “it was obvious to me that Mike was a son of God” and that they quickly developed a bond and a friendship, which led to John becoming Mike’s de facto ministering brother. There was an immediate invitation to have the missionaries visit, which my brother politely declined, but a month into their friendship, John asked again, explaining to Mike, “I think you’d enjoy hearing the gospel message.” This time the invitation was accepted, leading to meetings with the missionaries, as well as visits with Bishop Jon Sharp, whose conversations eventually led to Mike receiving his patriarchal blessing, 57 years after his baptism.

In early December of last year, following months of procedures, Mike decided to stop the cancer treatments, which were causing severe side effects, and to just let nature take its course. We were informed by his doctor that Mike had approximately three months to live. In the meantime, the gospel questions continued—as did the visits and support of his local priesthood leaders. On our visits with Mike, we often saw an open copy of the Book of Mormon on the bed stand as we discussed the Restoration of the gospel, priesthood keys, temple ordinances, and the eternal nature of man.

By mid-December, with his patriarchal blessing in hand, Mike actually appeared to be gaining strength, and his prognosis of at least another three months seemed likely. We even made plans for him to join us for Christmas, for New Year’s, and beyond. On December 16, I received an unexpected call from Bishop Sharp, who informed me that he and the stake president had interviewed Mike, had found him worthy to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, and asked when I would be available to participate. The ordinance was scheduled for that Friday, December 21.

When the day arrived, my wife, Carol, and I arrived at the care facility and were immediately met in the hallway near his room and informed that Mike had no pulse. We entered the room to find the patriarch, his bishop, and his stake president already waiting---and then Mike opened his eyes. He recognized me and acknowledged that he could hear me and was ready to receive the priesthood. Fifty years after Mike had been ordained a priest in the Aaronic Priesthood, I had the privilege, assisted by his local leaders, to confer the Melchizedek Priesthood and ordain my brother to the office of elder. Five hours later, Mike passed away, crossing the veil to meet our parents as a holder of the Melchizedek Priesthood....

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It isn’t necessary for someone to be suffering, like my brother, from a life-threatening disease in order to be in need of ministering service. Those needs come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and conditions. A single parent; a less-active couple; a struggling teen; an overwhelmed mother; a trial of faith; or financial, health, or marriage issues—the list is almost endless. However, like Mike, no one is too far gone, and it’s never too late for the Savior’s loving reach.

We are taught on the ministering website of the Church that “while there are many purposes of ministering, our efforts should be guided by the desire to help others achieve a deeper individual conversion and become more like the Savior.” Elder Neil L. Andersen said it this way:

“A person with a good heart can help someone fix a tire, take a roommate to the doctor, have lunch with someone who is sad, or smile and say hello to brighten a day.

“But a follower of the first commandment will naturally add to these important acts of service.”

In modeling our ministering after Jesus Christ, it is important to remember that His efforts to love, lift, serve, and bless had a higher goal than meeting the immediate need. He clearly knew of their day-to-day needs and had compassion on their current suffering as He healed, fed, forgave, and taught. But He wanted to do more than take care of today. He wanted those around Him to follow Him, to know Him, and to reach their divine potential.

As we seek to minister just as He did, we will be provided opportunities to forget self and lift others. These opportunities may often be inconvenient and test our desire to become more like the Master, whose greatest service of all, His infinite Atonement, was anything but convenient. In Matthew chapter 25, we are reminded how the Lord feels about us, when, like Him, we are sensitive to the struggles, trials, and challenges faced by so many but that can often be overlooked:

“Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in. …

“Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

“When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? …

“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Whether we serve as ministering brothers or sisters, or simply when we are made aware of someone in need, we are encouraged to seek the guidance and direction of the Spirit—and then to act. We may wonder how best to serve, but the Lord knows, and through His Spirit we will be directed in our efforts. Like Nephi, who “was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which [he] should do,” we will also be led by the Spirit as we strive to become instruments in the Lord’s hands to bless His children. As we seek the guidance of the Spirit and trust the Lord, we will be placed in situations and circumstances where we can act and bless—in other words, minister.

There may be other times when we recognize a need but feel inadequate to respond, assuming that what we have to offer is insufficient. To do just as He did, however, is to minister by giving what we are capable of giving and to trust that the Lord will magnify our efforts to bless our “fellow travelers on this mortal journey.” For some, it may be giving the gift of time and talents; for others, it may be a kind word or a strong back. Although we may feel that our efforts are inadequate, President Dallin H. Oaks shared an important principle regarding “small and simple.” He taught that small and simple acts are powerful because they invite “the companionship of the Holy Ghost,” a companion who blesses both the giver and the receiver...

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Source: Come, Follow Me–For Individuals and Families, p. 83; The New Testament Made Easier, Part 1, Volume 2, by David J. Ridges, 89; Excerpts from General Conference, April 2019, “Just as He Did,” by Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric.