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Fast Offerings: A Manifestation of Compassion

Fast Offerings: A Manifestation of Compassion
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Elder Adonay S. Obando, Spain
Area Seventy


Area Seventy

The apostle Paul taught that all the law is fulfilled in one word: Thou shalt love [sic].[1] True love, Paul continues teaching, comes from a pure heart and a faith unfeigned.[2]  An essential part of our faith is reaching self-reliance, both spiritually and temporally.  Self-reliance has been and is one of the priorities taught to the Saints in this dispensation.  However, the path to self-reliance can be long and sometimes accompanied by interruptions, illnesses, financial crises, and personal and other decisions [, which] can interrupt the path to temporal self-reliance, one aspect of self-reliance.  The other is spiritual self-reliance.  Both are inseparable sides of the same coin:  complete self-reliance.[3]

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Without pausing to judge the reason for the misfortune of our brothers and sisters in their times of need, true love should move us to compassion, which, in scriptural terms, has a literal meaning: “to suffer with others.”[4]  The Savior, “having the bowels of mercy; being filled with compassion towards the children of men,”[5] is, for us, the perfect example of compassion and charity.  Each time that the Lord was close to someone in hardship or tribulation, He did not distract himself in finding out the reasons or condemning the poor decision.  In His perfect love, He had compassion for each one of them and immediately acted, blessing them in their need or malady. 

Just as the widow,[6] who did not have whence to give, gave an offering, each member of the Church has the marvelous privilege of sharing the divine gift of compassion through fasts and offerings.  Without regard to social position[7] or available means, Latter-day Saints fast once a month, both to strengthen our spiritual self-reliance and to help others in need to reach theirs through the payment of fast offerings.

The Lord called Zion His people,[8] considering that they fulfilled three requirements for virtue:  They were of one heart, they dwelt in righteousness, and there were no poor among them.  It is not by chance that the meaning of Zion is “pure in heart.”[9]  Once more, the scriptures show us that the purity of the heart brings about compassion and mercy, in turn engendering charity.  Understanding the commandment “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,”[10] on the part of the people of Enoch, led them to have compassion, to suffer with each one of their less fortunate brothers and sisters, and to work together to bring relief to the poor and the needy to the point of having no more poor among them. 

In a world that increasingly averts the Savior’s teachings, many of our brothers and sisters struggle to fully grow in adverse conditions and surroundings, or those of limited possibilities.  We can renew our faith through compassion.  Our belief in Jesus Christ and His gospel are [sic] sufficient to develop compassion and love for people in need.  With conviction in the hope of a better world, we can contribute with generous fast offerings from a heart filled with love and compassion for our [sic] brothers and sisters.

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As we move throughout this life with a grateful attitude, we will be sensitive to the fact that there are always people with needs greater than ours.  We will be as the widow who, even in the most dreadful circumstances, considered it a sacred privilege to contribute to the poor and the needy.

We can make fasting and the payment of fast offerings a part of our life, teaching it to and instilling it in our families and congregations.  Your faithful observance will bring light to His disciples,[11] the Savior will be our guide, and His people will be as a spring whose waters never fail.[12]  Above all, we will care for the poor and the needy, all as children of the same Father, sustained by His love, retaining a remission of our sins, thus being able to walk guiltless before God.[13]

 


[1] Galatians 5:14

[2] 1 Timothy 1:5

[3] Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Providing in the Lord’s Way,” October 2011

[4] The Guide to the Scriptures: Compassion

[5] Mosiah 15:9

[6] Mark 12:41-44

[7] Deuteronomy 16:17

[8] Moses 7:18

[9] Doctrine and Covenants 97:21

[10] Matthew 22:39

[11] Isaiah 58

[12] Isaiah 58

[13] Mosiah 4:26