One day when the Savior was on his way to respond to a request from a man named Jairus, whose only daughter was dying, a woman who was ill came close to him and touched the hem of his garment. The Savior stopped. He took time to talk to the woman and comfort her. She was healed. As Jesus then continued on his way to Jairus’s home, someone let him know that the daughter had already died, but Jesus went on and restored her to life. (See Luke 8:41–56.)
The Savior stopped on his way to attend to one person in need to give attention and help to another. He did this many times. In 3 Nephi 17 we read about Christ visiting the Nephites. After teaching them he said, “But now I go unto the Father, and also to show myself unto the lost tribes of Israel” (3 Ne. 17:4). Then he looked on the people and saw that they were weeping and looking “steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them” (3 Ne. 17:5).
Jesus stayed. He had the Nephites bring their sick to him to be healed. He prayed in such a marvelous way that his words could not be written. He wept with them. He blessed their little children one by one and prayed for them. He started the ordinance of the sacrament among them. Marvelous things happened because the Savior stayed with the people.
The Lord taught a parable about a good Samaritan. The Samaritan, perhaps on his way to an important meeting or appointment, stopped when he saw someone in need of his help (see Luke 10:30–37).
How often have you stopped, at school, or church, or in the market place to listen to a friend in need, to talk with a neighbor, to respond to the prompting of the Spirit?
As Latter-day Saints and Christians, we need to be more willing to stop and help. We need more people who will take the opportunity to do good and to be good.
One day a friend and I noticed a young mother standing by her stalled truck looking very frustrated and unhappy. She had several children with her. We were prompted to stop and offer help. She explained that the truck had run out of gasoline. We said we’d go get some for her so that she could stay with the children. She seemed grateful for the help but reluctant to be the one receiving it. When we returned with a container of gasoline, the woman was thankful but still a little uncomfortable about accepting our help.
Then I had an idea. I said to her, “You would offer the same help to us if we needed it!” She thought about that for a moment or two, then smiled. “You’re right.” she said. “I would!”
I no longer remember where my friend and I were going that day, but I do remember the sweet experience of helping. I’m convinced that most of us would like to stop and help, but we’re unsure of what to do, or we’re too busy or even frightened. Often, we are not properly prepared to help. And there is no handbook of instructions you can refer to in those critical moments when an individual needs you.
But you can be prepared spiritually by studying what is in the Lord’s “handbook,” and becoming receptive to the promptings of the Spirit. There are no better instructors than the scriptures and the Spirit to teach us how to respond to the needs of others in a Christ-like way.
There are many things we can do that may help us increase our love, compassion, and responsiveness to the Spirit, and to others. Some of the following suggestions may be helpful:
—Visit someone who can’t come to see you. The Savior visited those in need.
—Practice becoming a better listener.
—Reach out beyond your regular circle of friends and acquaintances and speak to at least one person you don’t know each week.
—Work toward developing a loving facial expression. Try to look at others in such a way that they know they are loved, even if they have no idea who you are.
—Rejoice in the success and accomplishments of others.
—Cheerfully and willingly respond to opportunities to give service even when it’s inconvenient, even when it may require sacrifice.
—See if you can find someone who has a need to give, and think of something they can do for you or teach you.
—Learn to be grateful.
—Think of someone (be specific) to write a note to or telephone—and do it!
—Be specific in your prayers; pray about individuals who come into your heart and mind as you are communicating with your Heavenly Father. Ask him if there is anything he would have you do.
I lived in Nigeria, West Africa, for a few months. In our branch was a precious little child. She was seven years old and weighed only 10.5 kilograms. Often as I would enter our rented chapel, I would see her sitting on the back bench. I loved to pick her up and take her to the front with me and hold her during the meetings. It was as if she would soak up all the love that I had in me, and more.
Once at Christmas time I was holding my little friend, and it was announced that we would be singing “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” (Hymns, 95). A prompting came to me to sing it not to myself, as the words say, but to the little girl. It was a powerful, sweet, unforgettable experience for me, and I hope for her as well. As I sang my version of the text—He lives to bless you with his love, to plead for you above—I realized that the great blessings outlined in the hymn could come into the life of this little girl, and into the lives of others, through me. As an instrument in the Lord’s hands I could comfort others when they are faint, I could take time to hear their soul’s complaint, wipe away their tears, calm their troubled hearts, and love them to the end, just as the hymn tells us that the Savior does these things for us. But he needs my participation, he needs my willingness to serve, to be an instrument in his hands. He wants me to stop and help others. He wants all of us to stop and help those in need; to be good Samaritans.
I have come to recognize that many of my own prayers and pleadings have been answered through other people. We need each other. Both those who give and those who receive are blessed and come closer to their divine potential. As President Marion G. Romney put it, “There is an interdependence between those who have and those who have not. The process of giving exalts the poor and humbles the rich. In the process, both are sanctified” (General Conference, October 1982).
There is a greeting used in Africa that impresses me. One will ask of another, “Are you well?” The response is, “I am well if you are well.” In that greeting there seems to be an understanding of what Paul the Apostle was teaching in 1 Corinthians 12. He said that we are one body with many members, and that we have great and continuing need of each other—with all our variety, our strengths, our needs, our love, and our experience. We even have great need of those “which seem to be more feeble” (1 Cor. 12:22).
“And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Cor. 12:26). The Savior taught us to esteem others as ourselves (see D&C 38:24–27), and to love others as he loves them.
But how do we start? By being willing. Willing to stop on our way to a meeting, to a movie theater, to a store. Willing to take time to serve. Willing to bear one another’s burdens that they may be light. Willing to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort (see Mosiah 18:8–9). Willing to take upon us the name of Christ, that we may be known by and be called worthy of his holy name. And “Feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things ye should do.” (2 Ne. 32:3.)