by W. Jeffrey Marsh
The Thanksgiving season is always a choice time. Besides the fading of fall leaves and change in the weather, one can almost feel a change taking place in society. There seems to be a very tangible Spirit envelope the earth as we head into the Christmas season-a spirit of compassion for others, gratitude for blessings, and a sincere desire to help others. We have so many things to be thankful for, so many blessings, and so many good people in our lives to whom we are indebted. Like the change in the air, our thoughts turn to others in an attitude of gratitude.
Above all else, we recognize our indebtedness to God. As King Benjamin noted, our Heavenly Father’s tender mercies, help, and atoning sacrifice have truly blessed us temporally, prospered us spiritually, and preserved us eternally (see Mosiah 2:36).
As King Benjamin rehearsed the blessings of God that had been poured out upon his people, he recognized that they had been a “highly favored people of the Lord” (Mosiah 1:13). He encouraged them to be grateful for the Lord’s blessings. He pointed out that we are all eternally indebted to God because, in the first instance, He gave us life; and secondly, He requires us to keep His commandments “for which if ye do, He doth immediately bless you; and therefore He hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto Him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?” (Mosiah 2:24.)
So how, at this time of “thanks”-giving, do we say thanks to our Heavenly Father? What can we possibly give to Him that He does not already possess? What could we ever do to show our gratitude for His blessings? King Benjamin offered his people three suggestions:
First, find ways to serve others. “Behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” (Mosiah 2:17.) One of my favorite stories regarding service was written by Elder Bruce R. McConkie about an experience his grandmother had serving as a ward Relief Society President. At the time of this experience, she was a widow. Apparently a nonmember who opposed the Church “had married a Mormon girl. They had several children; now they had a new baby. They were very poor and Mother was going day by day to care for the child and to take them baskets of food, etc. Mother herself was ill, and more than once was hardly able to get home after doing the work at [their] home. One day she returned home especially tired and weary. She slept in her hair. She dreamed she was bathing a baby which she discovered was the Christ Child. She thought, Oh, what a great honor to thus serve the very Christ! As she held the baby in her lap, she was all but overcome. She thought, who else has actually held the Christ Child? Unspeakable joy filled her whole being. She was aflame with the glory of the Lord. It seemed that the very marrow in her bones would melt. Her joy was so great it awakened her. As she woke, these words were spoken to her, ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.'” (See Bruce R. McConkie, Sermons and Writings of Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1998], 388.)
Second, King Benjamin counseled his people to express their thanks and gratitude to God and “render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess” (Mosiah 2:20). Ingratitude to God has actually been described as a sin. How long will we go on expressing our thanks and gratitude to our Heavenly Father and to His Son, Jesus Christ, for all they have done for us? The scriptures declare, “forever and ever” (Revelation 1:6).
Third, King Benjamin suggested that to show gratitude to God is to remember, “all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments” (Mosiah 2:22). Consider these verses from the New Testament: “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15); “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23); “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love” (John 15:10); “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments” (1 John 5:2); “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3).
I would like to add a fourth suggestion. Regardless of how much we serve, or try and do, King Benjamin reminded his people that “if ye should serve Him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants” (Mosiah 2:21), meaning that we will never put God in our debt. So, if it is impossible to ever repay God for all He has blessed us with, and if we are doing what we can do to serve others, expressing gratitude, and keeping the commandments, we will always feel as if we should be doing something more (as if, at Thanksgiving and Christmas time we need more to do!). We may not be able to “do more” at this time of year, but there is something else we can try. The highest form of adoration is emulation. Perhaps, in addition to all we are “doing,” maybe we could try “being” more-more like the Savior would be-especially during the next few weeks. Then we can, as King Benjamin indicated, “be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for….your hearts are changed through faith on his name” (Mosiah 5:7).
2001 Meridian Magazine. All Rights Reserved.