Wednesday, March 16, 2016

John Taylor on caring for one another

President John Taylor (1808–1887) was born in England and immigrated to Canada where he and his wife were converted after hearing Parley P. Pratt preach.  He was ordained an apostle in 1838, and became the third president of the Church in 1880, serving until his death in 1887 at age 78.
"I have seen some people who would get down upon their knees and pray most heartily for God to feed the poor and clothe the naked. Now, I would never ask the Lord to do a thing that I would not do. If we have them among us, suppose we go at it and relieve them. I do not think we have much of that to do here; but, enough, perhaps, to draw forth your good feelings and sympathies. And if people sustain misfortune of any kind, look after them and bestow upon them those things necessary for their welfare and happiness. And God will bless us in so doing.
"I would a great deal rather that you would take, say a sack of flour, some beef, a hundred of sugar, some butter and cheese, and clothing and fuel, and such comforts and conveniences of life, and thus try to make people feel happy than all the prayers you could offer up to the Lord about it; and he would rather see it too; that is the proper way to do things. In receiving blessings ourselves, try to distribute them, and God will bless and guide us in the ways of peace."
- John Taylor, discourse at Kaysville, Sunday Afternoon, March 1, 1880; see JD 21:217, or Deseret News Semi-Weekly, 10 Aug 1880, p. 1
Click here to read the full article

I love to hear messages about the practical application of religion. In the end, it's not about learning or even understanding; it's really about doing, applying, serving, blessing, making a difference. President Taylor reminds us that praying for the poor and needy is good, but should always be accompanied by our own best efforts to help and to relieve suffering.

I felt the blessing of a Good Samaritan recently. I was stranded late on a Sunday evening in a remote city with an empty gas tank; the power throughout the city was off, and gas pumps don't work without electricity.  Expectations were that many hours would be required to restore power and allow us to continue our journey. An unknown resident, seeing the plight of a number of travelers like me, drove an hour to a nearby city, purchased as many 5-gallon gas cans as he could find, filled them with gas, and returned—selling the cans at his cost. We were able to use the gas to get back on the road, saving ourselves what would have been a very unpleasant overnight. That's the spirit of kindness and service that I think President Taylor is talking about—we don't just pray for those having challenges or difficulties; we seek for ways to assist and relieve.

"Pure religion," after all, is not just to pray for widows, but to visit them in their affliction (see James 1:27).

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