Heavenly Father has said many things pertaining to the poor and needy, the sick and the afflicted. As followers of Christ he has make it clear what is required of us in order to be His disciples.
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&C 52:40
The emphasis the Savior puts on remembering the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted is important for His followers to grasp. One scripture in particular stands out from among all the others when the Lord says:
Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matthew 25:40
The Savior equates serving the least among us with serving Him personally! I can’t think of a more powerful way of conveying the importance of this message to His followers.
In the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord uses another personal reference to teach His principle of economics.
And let every man esteem his brother as himself, and practise virtue and holiness before me.
And again I say unto you, let every man esteem his brother as himself.
For what man among you having twelve sons, and is no respecter of them, and they serve him obediently, and he saith unto the one: Be thou clothed in robes and sit thou here; and to the other: Be thou clothed in rags and sit thou there—and looketh upon his sons and saith I am just?
Behold, this I have given unto you as a parable, and it is even as I am. I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine. D&C 38:24 – 27
Our Access to the Lord and the Gifts of the Spirit
To make the point about the importance of remembering the poor and needy, the sick and the afflicted the Lord moves the emphasis to our needs. In other words, He teaches His would be disciples that the blessings he has for us in this life are related to our dealings with the poor and needy, the sick and the afflicted:
Nevertheless, in your temporal things you shall be equal, and this not grudgingly, otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit shall be withheld. D&C 70:14
This scripture tells it like it is. We as a people do not enjoy an abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit. The reason for this is clearly explained in this verse.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson explains how Zion will eventually be established (red highlighting is mine):
Zion is Zion because of the character, attributes, and faithfulness of her citizens. Remember, “the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them” (Moses 7:18). If we would establish Zion in our homes, branches, wards, and stakes, we must rise to this standard. It will be necessary (1) to become unified in one heart and one mind; (2) to become, individually and collectively, a holy people; and (3) to care for the poor and needy with such effectiveness that we eliminate poverty among us. We cannot wait until Zion comes for these things to happen—Zion will come only as they happen. Ensign, Nov 2008, 37-40.
One more point that needs to be mentioned is found in Alma. The Lord teaches us about our prayers and how they can be in vain if we neglect our responsibility to those in need. For those whose prayers seem to go unanswered this might be a good place to begin the process of evaluating the reason the heavens appear closed:
…if ye turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need—I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, behold, your prayer is vain, and availeth you nothing, and ye are as hypocrites who do deny the faith. Alma 34:28
Summary and Conclusion
I acknowledge my need to improve in this area. One of the reason I chose to write on this subject is to review the doctrines the Lord has provided those who would follow Him. Next, I have been asking myself what I can do to be more faithful in remembering the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted. Following are a few ideas that I am working on—please add any ideas you would suggest in comments:
Pay a generous fast offering
Are there family members or relatives who have needs
Are there ward or branch members who have needs
Make a donation to those I hear about on the news who have suffered terrible tragedies in their life
Make donations to selected charitable organization
Of course, this all needs to be done prayerfully and with wisdom.
Lastly, I’ll mention a few hurdles that I have experienced as I’ve tried to implement this plan and how I am working through them.
Paying my fast offering is easy, but helping family members or relatives has been a challenge. I’m afraid that my “kindness” will backfire by giving the impression that I have money to give for the asking. To deal with this possibility I have given money anonymously to those who have the potential to misunderstand. To closer family members I have found that careful communication is the key to avoid difficulty and misunderstandings.
With church members I always give anonymously.
When I hear about a tragedy on the news I give through a bank or send it anonymously.
For charitable organization I check out there income expense ratio and give to those who are efficiently running their organization.
The amount of the donation is not as important as giving. I feel Heavenly Father respects are efforts and the amount shouldn’t deter us from giving, even if it is a few dollars. If many people give small amounts of money it greatly blesses the recipient.
At the beginning of each year I budget how much I can afford to give. Then it is my job to spend the money.
There are many other topics to discuss on this subject. I have just touched on a few.
…they were liberal to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, whether out of the church or in the church, having no respect to persons as to those who stood in need. Alma 1:30