All You Need Is Love
Thessalonians 3: 11 "Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you. 12 And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: 13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints."
Paul supplies us with the definitive prayer in regard to ministering!
1. Am I willing? “May our God . . . clear the way for us to come to you”. Paul wants to come to the Saints physically. Our geographical, physical presence with others is a first step to ministering. Sacrifice comes as we seek to do as God asks when it's not convenient or even if just don't feel like it. We pray that God will open the way for us to serve, visit, teach, and love our neighbor.
2. Do I have a loving heart? Or am I willing to pray for one? “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else”. Praying for a loving heart towards those we serve is the next part of Paul’s ministering prayer. I’m reminded of the story of Solomon in 1 Kings 3. Solomon loved the Lord and would often offer sacrifices to him. Any offerings that were given to the Lord or any incense that was burned had to be done on one of the high places because there was no temple. When Solomon was in Gibeon to offer his own sacrifices, the Lord appeared to him in a dream during the night. The Lord said to Solomon, "Ask something of me and I will give it to you." He thought carefully before he made his request. 1 Kings 3:7 "...O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant King instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. 8 And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. 9 Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?" God was pleased that Solomon had made such a request. He said to Solomon, 1 Kings 3: 11 “Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; 12 Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.” Solomon’s blessing was hinged on the unselfishness of his petition and the intent of his heart. We can pray for a more loving heart. That's what I pray for. 3. Do I accept Jesus Christ’s grace into my life? “May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy . . . when our Lord Jesus comes.” I love the concepts of “grace for grace” and “grace to grace”. The Bible Dictionary defines grace as “a word that occurs frequently in the New Testament, especially in the writings of Paul. The main idea of the word is divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ...It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts.” The Savior Himself progressed “grace for grace” and “grace to grace”. “As Christ progressed, He offered to the Father His obedience and willingness to do the Father’s will and received from the Father the appropriate “grace for grace.” We are to follow this same pattern. The Lord explained, “For if you keep my commandments [this is what we continually give to God—our obedience] you shall receive of his fulness [this is what God gives to us—a portion of His fulness], and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace” (D&C 93:20). Elder Gene R. Cook, in the April 2002 general conference, taught, “The Lord’s response to us is always filled with love. Should not our response to Him be in kind, with real feelings of love? He gives grace (or goodness) for grace, attribute for attribute. As our obedience increases, we receive more grace (or goodness) for the grace we return to Him.” (And to His children) If we combine two verses of scripture, we can see that this process, “grace for grace,” is not a one-time exchange but rather is a continuous cycle that will last a lifetime and beyond. The first scripture states, “He that keepeth his [the Lord’s] commandments receiveth truth and light” (D&C 93:28). The second adds, “Of him unto whom much is given much is required” (D&C 82:3). If individuals have been given added light and knowledge because of their obedience, they are required to be more obedient than they were before they received the added light. If they, in turn, increase their obedience, humility, and repentance to match the newly added light, they receive additional light, which requires them to live a higher level of obedience. If they increase their obedience, they receive an increase in light, and so on. This cycle continues “until,” as the Lord stated, the individual “is glorified in truth and knoweth all things” (D&C 93:28).” Bryce L. Dunford, https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/volume-3-number-2-2002/he-received-grace-grace-dc-9312 It looks like this: a. God loves us. We love God because He loved us first. 1 John 4: 10 “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 19 We love him, because he first loved us.” The old question, “what came first--the chicken or the egg?” is answered definitively in God’s love towards us. He sends us His grace through this love. Then,
b. We receive His love and grace. 1 John 4: 15 “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” Then,
c. We spend His love and grace in service and ministering to others. 1 John 4: 11 “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” Then, It starts all over again in the cycle. He replenishes the love we have sent out with more love and grace, which we receive, we spend on others, etc.
Ministering is the heart of Savior's Gospel. Am I willing? Do I have an open heart or am I willing to pray for one? Is my heart open to receiving strength from God through His love and grace? (The three-part format of Paul’s prayer comes from Book of Mormon Central, NT Commentary)