- Many of us are descendants of hardy pioneers, and we feel grateful and inspired by their faithpromoting examples of sacrifice.
- Their material means, such as food, clothing, and shelter, were meager, but their love for one another and their devotion to their Lord and to the gospel were boundless.
- Our commitment to the kingdom should match that of our faithful ancestors even though our sacrifices are different.
He shares some examples of how our lives are different from those that the pioneers lived.
- Instead of physical deprivation and hardship, we face the challenge of remaining true and faithful to gospel principles amidst such evil and destructive forces as dishonesty, corruption, drug and alcohol misuse, and disease often caused by sexual promiscuity. Also, we find ourselves in combat daily with immorality in all of its many forms. Pornography and violence, often portrayed in insidious television shows, movies, and videos, are running rampant. Hate and envy, greed and selfishness are all about us, and families are disintegrating at an ever-increasing pace. In the midst of all of this, my brothers and sisters, we must never forget the source of our abundant blessings.
Elder Ballard discusses the Savior and the perfect example of sacrifice. We should be looking to the Savior as our ultimate example and seek to follow His guidance.
- Sacrifice is a demonstration of pure love. The degree of our love for the Lord, for the gospel, and for our fellowman can be measured by what we are willing to sacrifice for them. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ manifested the supreme example of this love. His life and ministry established a pattern for us to follow. His divine mission was culminated in a supreme act of love as He allowed His life to be sacrificed for us. Having power over life and death, He chose to submit himself to pain, ridicule, and suffering, and offered His life as a ransom for our sins. Because of His love, He suffered both body and spirit to a degree beyond our comprehension and took upon Himself our sins if we repent. Through His personal sacrifice, He provided a way for us to have our sins forgiven and, through Him, to find our way back into the presence of our Heavenly Father.
- The sacrifice he requires of us is “a broken heart and a contrite spirit” that can lead us to repentance. When we consider His example, the demands made upon our time or means are slight in comparison. We should, therefore, give gladly and count it as a blessing and an opportunity.
Elder Ballard concludes with examples of what we are called upon to do today and how we need to have a desire to serve God in all our actions.
- My brothers and sisters, we must not lose the spirit of sacrifice demonstrated by the handcart pioneers. Some of the Lord’s choicest blessings await those who practice this eternal principle through extending themselves in service to God and to their fellowmen. The sacrificing spirit and the happiness that come through service to others can bring peace and joy even amid trials.
- The principle of sacrifice should be taught in every Latter-day Saint home and should be practiced in many simple yet important ways. We can do this by setting an example of reverence that will bring the true spirit of worship into our meetings and by guarding against murmuring and complaining about the challenges of the Sunday worship schedule. We can contribute a generous fast offering, find joy in supporting missionaries, and pay an honest tithing. We can accept Church callings and serve with a happy and grateful heart, do temple work regularly, offer family and personal daily prayers, and teach one another each week in well-planned family home evenings. Both younger members and those who are older can prepare early and make themselves worthy to accept calls to serve as missionaries. We all can be good neighbors and can take care of widows, the poor, and the less fortunate. We can reach out to others in our service as home and visiting teachers. Brethren, we must be clean and worthy to bless others with the priesthood we hold.
- Today we are not called to pull handcarts through the snow-swept plains of Wyoming. However, we are called to live, foster, and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is our privilege to invest our means and our time to bless others. Each one of us must do all we can to preserve our Latter-day Saint way of life. A vital part of this preservation is a willingness to set aside personal desires and replace them with unselfish sacrifice for others.
I am not called upon to walk across the United States, or to give my life as a sacrifice for the cause of Zion and many have in the past. What I am called upon to do is give of my time, energy, and talents to the building up on for kingdom of God on the earth. I am asked to visit the sick and weary and try to bring the comfort of the Savior and a small portion of the Savior's spirit into the homes that I visit. I pray that my small sacrifice of time will provide amazing benefits to those that I attempt to reach out to.