San Pedro Sula East Mission
2013 - 2016

Sunday, November 2, 2014

We Believe in Sacrifice . . .

(This is Part II of a series of blog posts about important doctrines that missionaries teach each day . . . not only do they spend much of their time in personal and companionship study, planning and setting goals, they also are out and about for approximately 8-9 hours each day teaching and testifying of basic gospel principles.  Missionaries visit their new contacts, teach people who are investigating the church, strengthen new converts to the Church and seek out the less active members to strengthen them also.  That's a lot of responsibility for young people ages 18-25.  Part I here)

Sacrifice?  What kind of sacrifice?

Well . . . maybe not in terms of animal sacrifice, that practice ended with the death of Jesus Christ.  But now perhaps you could say . . . human sacrifice . . .

No, not in the way that you are thinking!

After the Atonement of Christ, followers of Jesus Christ, at His direction - began to offer instead a "broken heart and contrite spirit",  (3 Nephi 9:20) a willingness to repent of sins and a desire to follow Jesus Christ and align our thoughts, desires, actions and decisions with His commandments.

The prophet Joseph Smith taught . . .
(If you are not familiar with the Prophet Joseph Smith, see our previous post)

"A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things."

(Companionship study - in a group today with our office staff and assistants)

(First 12 Weeks training with newer missionaries and their trainers)

I think, as prophets always are  . . . 

Joseph Smith was a man with words wise beyond his experience.  Isn't that what inspiration and revelation are all about?

Who could have guessed the importance of this paragraph and the words continued therein, penned greater than 170 years ago.  Who could have foreseen the great and often tragic sacrifices required to bring the Church to where it is today . . .

Why should we or why would we think that the days of sacrifice are behind us?

While I'm not familiar with the doctrines of all religions, I feel confident in saying that few christian religions require their members to offer any kind of sacrifice for their belief and worship of the Savior.  However . . . we the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints  . . .

believe in sacrifice.

We believe so strongly in fact . . . that we make a sacred covenant to do so.

Why is that do you think?

What exactly does the word sacrifice imply?  According to the New Oxford American Dictionary -
  •  An offering to God
  • The act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy.
The Latin origins of the word stem from "sacer" or "holy".

In a supreme example, Jesus Christ forfeited or sacrificed His life for something He considered to be of greater value, the salvation of mankind.

As individuals and members of our Church . . . why and what do we offer as sacrifice?

 (Yippee!  A real treat today with our training meeting!)

Why do we offer sacrifice unto the Lord?

In an inspired hymn we sing, "sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven".  We could just let it go at that . . . I'm sure that covers the spectrum for many.  Elder Dallin H. Oaks offers the following story of President Gordon B. Hinckley and a young student.

President Hinkcley speaking with a young man who found the restored gospel while he was studying in the United States . . . As this man was about to return to his native land, President Gordon B. Hinckley asked him what would happen to him when he returned home as a Christian. “My family will be disappointed,” the young man answered. “They may cast me out and regard me as dead. As for my future and my career, all opportunity may be foreclosed against me.”
“Are you willing to pay so great a price for the gospel?” President Hinckley asked.
Tearfully the young man answered, “It’s true, isn’t it?” When that was affirmed, he replied, “Then what else matters?”8 
We sacrifice to show obedience to the laws and commandments of our Heavenly Father.  We sacrifice to show faith and trust in Heavenly Father.  Sacrifice is an opportunity to demonstrate our faith and increase our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

If we remember the definition of "sacrifice", then it becomes clear that the Lord expects us to give up or exchange "something" for something else of greater worth.  If our sacrifice is based on our faith in our Savior, then that which is of greater worth is the promise of blessings from a Heavenly Father who loves all His children and desires to bless them.

So in a way it can be said . . .

Our faith determines our actions.

How much faith does it take?

And . . .

What do we offer as sacrifice unto the Lord? 

Good questions!

 . . .  Faith is not something a person either has or doesn't have.  It's not like a light bulb that's either off or on.  It's something that's measured in degrees.  Faith is not a constant value.  It is something that can multiply or diminish, expand or contract.

One of the challenges we have in our earthly life is to learn the lessons our Heavenly Father wants us to learn through earthly life.  In other words . . . we believe our purpose is to grow to become more like Him.  Only through sacrifice can we learn and grow and become more like Him.   When a church doesn't require its members to sacrifice, they are robbing them of the opportunity to demonstrate their faith and thereby grow . . . even unto perfection.

Throughout the history of the Church, members have been called upon to make great sacrifices to bring the restoration and growth of the Church to it's present state.  Many, such as the pioneers, early members and missionaries of the Church made epic sacrifices, even to the loss of life.  Today, for most followers of Christ, our sacrifices involve what we can do on a day-to-day basis in our individual lives.

We are a covenant making people!

The Church expects much from it's members . . . tithing, obedience to the word of wisdom, acting in positions of service, home and visiting teaching, missionary work, temple work.  In short, we have much opportunity to grow, to show our faith and trust in the Lord by sacrificing ourselves and all that we possess, including our own lives if necessary.  This is the covenant that we make . . . because we are a church of covenant making Saints.

And like a spinning wheel . . . the greater our faith the greater our service will be.  The greater our service and sacrifice, the greater our faith becomes.

The converse is also true, the less we sacrifice in doing these things, the less faith we show toward Him whom we profess to believe.

Like everything, faith is built a little at a time.  Our faith grows as we offer ourselves willingly to the Lord.

When much is given, much is required - 

In Luke, the widow gave only two mites, but her sacrifice was great, for she sacrificed all she had.  When much is given, much is required.  We could say that to whom God has committed much faith, of them He will ask more of a sacrifice.

I am grateful for the many examples of Christian service I have observed in my life.  Grateful for the example of others dedicating time and means to church callings, grateful for the great sacrifice of missionary service, from both young missionaries, the sacrifice of their families, and of the precious Senior Couples.  Grateful for the examples of great charity, in providing love and services to those all around, using their talents and skills to bless the life of another.

Such examples strengthen all of us.

Just as the supreme example of the sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ is at the center of the plan of salvation, each of us as followers of Christ must make our own sacrifices . . . to grow, to learn to become like him.

In this way we will be able to have the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.

When we are willing to sacrifice all that we have for Him then we will receive an enjoyment of life and salvation that never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthy things.

He is the Savior, the Son of our Heavenly Father.  It is only through His atoning sacrifice that each one  of us receives the ultimate blessings of sacrifice, the gift of eternal life.

We teach and testify of these principles everyday.

 (This transfer we received three sister missionaries, one from Mexico, two from Guatemala)

(It's always pretty heart wrenching to say goodbye to our most experienced missionaries - we already miss them so!)

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