This month's visiting teaching message is about the Divine role of our Savior. For a link to the message go HERE. At the end of the message is a question, "how do covenants increase our faith in the Savior?"
To answer that, a talk came to my mind that I had read earlier this month about the correlation between faith and work. I quote from "The Rock of Our Redeemer" by Elder Wilford W. Anderson:
"Faith in the Savior requires more than mere belief. The Apostle James taught that even the devils believe and tremble. But true faith requires work. The difference between the devils and the faithful members of this Church is not belief but work. Faith grows by keeping the commandments. We must work at keeping the commandments."To me, this ties in perfectly with the question. Keeping our covenants requires work, work that in turn strengthens our faith. Our covenants are designed to bless us and help us become more like the Savior.
As I think of the Savior and all the symbols of Christmas, I can't help but think of one of my favorite titles of the Savior, "The Good Shepherd." As I think of Him as our Shepherd I think of how He gently, lovingly leads us to green pastures and knows us by name. It is a very tender title for the Lord; it captures His essence and His life. As I strive to keep my covenants, now and always, I think of being a shepherd. I am reminded of the Prophet's call to the men of the church to be "True Shepherds" and how that applies to the women as well (2013 Priesthood Session, President Thomas S. Monson, "True Shepherds".)
When we serve others we are on sacred ground because we are where the Savior would be if He were here. We get the blessed opportunity to be His hands. It is an intimate and sacred experience helping someone who cannot help themselves, to wipe someone's tears, to lighten someone's burdens or to be someone's angel. I know of no experience more holy, more sacred. Some service is done within the walls of the temple, some is done within the walls of a widow's home, but the most important service is done within the walls of our own home. And that is what our covenants inspire us to do. To mourn with those who mourn, to comfort those who stand in need of comfort, to use our time and talents to build up the Kingdom of God on the earth.
So this season, when you see the symbol of the Shepherd's staff, I hope you think about the role and mission of our Savior Jesus Christ. I hope you think about "The Good Shepherd" and how we have the sacred privilege to be shepherds as well. May we all walk on sacred ground this Christmas and always as we strive to live our covenants and become like the babe in the manger who grew up to be the Savior of the World.
For a link to download the free handout click here.