Saturday, March 30, 2019

President Dallin H. Oaks on service motivated by humility and love

President Dallin H. Oaks (born August 12, 1932) served as president of BYU from 1971-1980.  He was then appointed as a justice of the Utah Supreme Court, and resigned when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1984. He became President of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles and also 1st Counselor in the First Presidency in January 2018.
"Those who are caught up in trying to save their lives by seeking the praise of the world are actually rejecting the Savior’s teaching that the only way to save our eternal life is to love one another and lose our lives in service.
"C. S. Lewis explained this teaching of the Savior: 'The moment you have a self at all, there is a possibility of putting yourself first?—wanting to be the centre?—wanting to be God, in fact. That was the sin of Satan: and that was the sin he taught the human race. Some people think the fall of man had something to do with sex, but that is a mistake. … What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could "be like gods"—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come … the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.' (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1980), 49; emphasis added.)
"A selfish person is more interested in pleasing man—especially himself—than in pleasing God. He looks only to his own needs and desires. He walks 'in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world' (D&C 1:16). Such a person becomes disconnected from the covenant promises of God (see D&C 1:15) and from the mortal friendship and assistance we all need in these tumultuous times. In contrast, if we love and serve one another as the Savior taught, we remain connected to our covenants and to our associates."
- Dallin H. Oaks, "Unselfish Service," General Conference April 2009
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

In the gospel life, the reasons why we do things are sometimes more important than what we do. If we are motivated by the desire for prominence or recognition, we are missing the whole point of the Savior's message. In the Sermon on the Mount, He spoke about those who are motivated by the need "to be seen of men" and warned that "they have their reward" already (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18)

True Christian service must be motivated by pure love, and commitment to the Savior's cause.

The quote from C. S. Lewis that President Oaks includes is interesting. He warns of the temptation faced by man to "be like gods" in creating for ourselves a source of happiness involving only ourselves, apart from God. The true disciple does aspire to be like God, but if that is to happen in the distant eternity, it comes because we first learn the lesson that we are completely subject to Him and His will, and must obey with complete humility and willingness.

As we cling to "the covenant promises of God" and follow Him whole-heartedly, we will find the true source of peace and joy in this life as we serve others as He did.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

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