Sunday, August 7, 2016

2016-08-08 President's Message

Dear Sisters and Elders,

Thank you so much for your faith, diligence and devotion to the work of the Lord. The month of July was a month full of blessings--many baptisms, many people brought into full church activity and many people who received sacred ordinances in the temple. We are deeply grateful to see these precious souls take these steps back toward their Heavenly Father. This amazing work is the "Work of the Lord." This phrase reminds us that this great work of saving souls belongs to the Lord and not to us. He is the source of all of our blessings and all of our strength.

The apostle Paul, as he wrote to the saints in Corinth, shares with us his attitude towards himself, the Atonement and the true source of his success in bringing thousands of converts onto the church:

"But by the grace of God I am what I am; and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." (1 Corinthians 15:10)

As we labor to serve the Lord, we testify of Jesus Christ every day. We wear His name on our chest. Every day we need to become more like Him.

One of our natural tendencies can be to look for the faults and imperfections in others. During my first mission I served with a wonderful companion who had many strengths. He was one of the best teachers in the mission and was bold, compassionate and obedient. The only fault that I could find in him was that he sometimes used slang words--not crude or vulgar words--just a few words of teenage slang a few times each week. I found myself pointing this out and teasing him about it over and over again. It was a habit he wanted to change but it was a little difficult for him. After we had been companions for a number of weeks, we both noticed that there was some tension or stress in our companionship. As we talked about it, I realized that, even though I was serving with one of the very best missionaries in the mission, I had chosen to focus on his one weakness and to poke and prod him about it. This was immature of me. I was being selfish and ungrateful. I had many of my own faults to work on but I chose to focus on his. When I stopped doing this and focused instead on the many, many talents and gifts he possessed we were able to work together in great unity and we were much more successful in the work.

If you really want to help someone, search for their strengths. Focus on their virtues. Build their confidence in what they do that is right. If there is a suggestion you need to make, do it maturely, with kindness and love. This is how we truly help each other instead of just tearing each other down.

When the rich young man came to Jesus, he asked him:

"Good master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" Jesus did not yell at him and harshly point out his big weakness. He did not tease him and prod him and tear him down. Instead, he focused on the things that were good. Even though Christ already knew that the young man was obedient in keeping the commandments He asked: "Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother."  To this the young man answered: "Master, all these have I observed from my youth."

After focusing on the young man's obedience and goodness, the Savior demonstrates how we should help each other: "Then Jesus beholding him LOVED HIM, and said unto him: One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven." (Mark 10:17-21)

Christ looked him in the eyes, loved him, recognized that he was doing so many good things and that there was only one thing he lacked, told him what he needed to change, and then promised him the blessings of heaven.

Notice that Christ did not stop the man on the road to tell him about his problem. He waited until the man came to him--He waited for the right time.

Notice that Christ was not irritated, jealous or pushy.

Notice that he took the time to love him and to follow the spirit about when to make a suggestion.

Because of how Christ handled this, the young man could not resent the Savior. He had been treated with respect, love and kindness. He needed then to look inside himself to see that his worldly wealth was far too important to him. Even though the scripture says that he "went away grieving: for he had great possessions," hopefully he took the time to pray and reflect eventually give all that he had to the poor.

Elders and Sisters, now is the time to "...cease to find fault one with another..." (DC 88:124) This applies to everyone we interact with--members, investigators, companions, apartment-mates and people on the street. Now is the time to do what Alma instructed his new converts to do:

"And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another." (Mosiah 18:21)

I love you with all my heart. I thank the Lord every day for the blessing of working side-by-side with you in His great work.

Mahal ko po kayo,

President Creg Ostler