Tuesday, September 19, 2017

President Marion G. Romney on celestial service and self-reliance

President Marion G. Romney (1897-1988) was born in the Mormon Colonies in Mexico. He was ordained an apostle in 1951 and served as a counselor in the First Presidency from 1972 to 1985. After the death of President Spencer W. Kimball, President Romney was released and returned to serve in the Quorum of Twelve until his death in 1988.
"We lose our life by serving and lifting others. By so doing we experience the only true and lasting happiness. Service is not something we endure on this earth so we can earn the right to live in the celestial kingdom. Service is the very fiber of which an exalted life in the celestial kingdom is made.
"Knowing that service is what gives our Father in Heaven fulfillment, and knowing that we want to be where He is and as He is, why must we be commanded to serve one another? Oh, for the glorious day when these things all come naturally because of the purity of our hearts. In that day there will be no need for a commandment because we will have experienced for ourselves that we are truly happy only when we are engaged in unselfish service. Let us use the freedom which comes from self-reliance in giving and serving."
- Marion G. Romney, "The Celestial Nature of Self-reliance," General Conference, October 1982
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

In past general conferences, a "welfare session" was sometimes held in addition to the regular conference sessions, during which instruction and encouragement were given related to principles of the welfare system. These remarks from President Romney were the keynote from one such session. He was one of the great teachers of these principles, and gave many addresses during his ministry on topics related to welfare.

But this one stands out in my mind. I think it's a masterful discourse, examining some of the underlying principles and doctrines of the welfare program, as they relate to our personal spiritual development. After teaching about self-reliance and its eternal significance, President Romney expanded the principle to the concept of service to others. When we become self-reliant, we are capable of blessing those around us.


This is a remarkable phrase: "Service is the very fiber of which an exalted life in the celestial kingdom is made." It's not just a program, guideline, or recommendation. The Savior's admonition to love one another, and the baptismal covenant obligation of bearing one another's burdens, give keys to President Romney's insight. Some day, he suggests, we will discover that the only source of true happiness comes from pure, Christlike, unselfish service.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)

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