Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Providing In The Lord's Way

What is the Lords way?

The Lord’s way is so simply yet so perfect. It weaves together the principles of self-reliance and charity to form one beautiful whole. The Lord’s way embraces welfare, meaning the temporal and spiritual well being of the individual. When we provide the Lord’s way it benefits the giver as well as the receiver.

Spencer W. Kimball explained it as such, “Providing for the poor and needy in the Lord’s way means that the giver helps those who are less fortunate by giving according to what he has received from God. He gives freely and with a true spirit of love, recognizing that his Heavenly Father is the source of all his blessings and that he is responsible to use those blessings in the service of others.
The receiver accepts the offered help with gratitude. He used it to release himself from the bondage and limitations of his need and become more able to rise to his full potential, both temporally and spiritually. He then reaches out to help others.
Providing in the Lord’s way humbles the rich, exalts the poor, and sanctifies both. Both are blessed as they keep the Lord’s commandments. Both become more able to give as Christ gives.
Isn’t the plan beautiful? Don’t you thrill to this part of the gospel that causes Zion to put on her beautiful garments? When viewed in this light, we can see that welfare is not a program, but the essence of the gospel. It is the gospel in action. It is the crowning principles of a Christian life.”

The Lord said, “And remember in all things the poor and the needy the sick and the afflicted, for he that doeth not these things, the same is not my disciple.” (D&C52:40)

As Disciples of Christ, we should give of ourselves—our time, talents and resources—to care for those in need. We are better able to fulfill this responsibility if we are striving to become self-reliant, for we cannot give what we do not have.

Each member of the Church has individual welfare responsibilities, these are:
(1) To become self-reliant.
(2) To care for the poor and needy.

Father in Heaven has blessed us with everything. He has given us all our resources and material goods and has given us stewardship over them. He never forsakes us but he does not do for us what we can do for ourselves. He has commanded us to use the things we receive from Him to take car of ourselves and our families. We when do so, we are self-reliant.

“The responsibility for each person’s social, emotional, spiritual, physical, or economic well being rests first upon himself, second upon his family, and third upon the Church if he is a faithful member thereof.

No true Latter-day Saint, while physically or emotionally able will voluntarily shift the burden of his own or his family’s well-being to someone else. So long as he can, under the inspiration of the Lord and with his own labors, he will supply himself and his family with the spiritual and temporal necessities of life.” ( Spencer W. Kimball, Oct 1977)

Marion G. Romney also stated, “Let us work for what we need. Let us be self-reliant and independent. Salvation can be obtained on no other principle. Salvation is an individual matter, and we must work out our own salvation, in temporal as well as in spiritual things.”

There will be times in our lives when we will not be able to meet our needs without the help of others. In these circumstances, we should turn first to our families for help. If necessary, we can also turn to the Church. As part of His Church, the Lord has organized a way to help members as they work to regain their self-reliance. We should determine that we will use the help we receive to become more self-reliant and more able to give to others. We cannot be self-reliant without being willing to work. Work is physical, mental, or spiritual effort. The Lord has commanded us to work, for work is the source of happiness, self-esteem, and prosperity. It is the way we accomplish good things in our lives.

As Disciples of Christ, we should honor our covenants to consecrate ourselves to build up the kingdom of God and to care for those in need. Nearly all of us can give or do something for others, no matter how little we may have. When we strive to give and serve as Christ did, we are abundantly blessed. We overcome selfishness and greed, and we temper our appetites and passions. We develop the desire to give all that we have to the building of the Lord’s kingdom, we retain a remission of our sins, and our confidence grows strong in the presence of God, and we are filled with joy. These are the wonderful blessings that come from giving.

J. Reuben Clark Jr. stated, “The real long term objective of the Welfare Plan is the building of character in the members of the Church, givers and receivers, rescuing all that is finest down deep inside of them, and bringing to flower and fruitage the latent richness of the spirit, which after all is the mission and purpose and reason for being of this Church.”

The message of the beautiful handbook of the Church called “Providing In The Lord’s Way” can even more fully help us to understand the beauty of the Church welfare program. Along with an updated version of this handbook, the Church has just released a DVD called, “In the Service of Your God” to help us learn and apply these welfare principles in our lives. If you haven’t visited the Provident Living website in a while, it is a really great place to receive information in this area.

1 comment:

Jelaire R. said...

This is a great summary of the principles behind the Lord's system of welfare-- it is quite different from how the world's system works.
It is surprising to see how misunderstood these principles are by many faithful members (including myself until I recently read up on the Brethren's words)! Many of my faithful student friends rely on government programs to assist them before having gone to the next two sources of help the Lord lists after one's self: family and then church.
I wonder if the Lord warned us against using government welfare because it makes it more difficult for the giver to give "freely" and the recipient to receive "with gratitude" as President Kimball pointed out? Unfortunately it can be a touchy subject.
It's interesting to see what David B. Haight said on the topic of government vs. church welfare, as he brought up another reason:
"What has this monstrous thing called government welfare done to the people? Today we have second- and third-generation welfare recipients. Millions have learned how to live off the government. Children are growing up without knowing the value and the dignity of work. The government has succeeded in doing what the Church welfare program seeks to prevent.
The Lord’s way is different from government programs. The inspired Church welfare plan is administered on the principle that an individual is responsible to care for himself; where his resources are not adequate, family members are to assist. Where the family is unable to meet the needs of the individual, the Church stands ready to help. The Lord’s way emphasizes individual work and responsibility and encourages people to help themselves"
(“The Stake President’s Role in Welfare Services,” Ensign, Nov 1978, 85).
It makes me grateful that the Lord has set specific guidelines about this so we know better how to go about serving others and receiving help!