Editor's note: Our bi-weekly Friday column, “Found in the footnotes,” explores some of the footnotes from remarks given by General Authorities and General Officers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
On a recent episode of the Church News podcast, Elder David A. Bednar explained that during his more than 16 years as an Apostle, he’s rarely been assigned a topic for a general conference talk.
“There have been instances where I have been seated on the stand, knowing I’m the next, or two or three speakers away, and I listen to a continuity building, thinking, ‘If we had planned and organized and orchestrated these messages, it could not have been done nearly as well as it was done by the power of the Holy Ghost.’ . . . People who’ve never talked to each other about the messages they’re giving in general conference build to a crescendo across the messages. That is miraculous, absolutely miraculous. So they are orchestrated, but by heaven, not by the participants,” Elder Bednar said.
After general conference, I am always intrigued to hear what themes people noticed during the sessions. At LDS Living, we asked on our social media pages what our audience thought the theme of general conference was.
In the hundreds of comments we received, some of the themes noted were compassion, unity, faith, and loving one another as He loves us.
One theme I personally felt during conference was a collective call to kindness. And when I started to study the footnotes in the general conference session, I found an insight from Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf that I absolutely loved.
After explaining that he has often wondered what Jesus would teach if He was among us today, Elder Uchtdorf listed a few timeless truths taught by the Savior including, “He teaches us to love one another and to be ‘full of charity towards all men.’”
Accompanying this truth is a footnote in which Elder Uchtdorf shares a way we can demonstrate charity to all men: “The process of caring for others allows both rich and poor a way toward refining their characters and leads them both toward exaltation (see Doctrine and Covenants 104:15–18).”
Part of the journey of mortal life is refining our character, and I love that Elder Uchtdorf gives a universal way to do that.
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The scripture that accompanies that footnote, Doctrine and Covenants 104:15–18, also shares how the Lord has given us enough to spare as we look for ways to care:
And it is my purpose to provide for my saints, for all things are mine.
But it must needs be done in mine own way; and behold this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low.
For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.
Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment.
The scriptures show that not caring for others leads to torment. And on the contrary, in the October 2019 general conference, President Russell M. Nelson said, “Giving help to others—making a conscientious effort to care about others as much as or more than we care about ourselves—is our joy. Especially, I might add, when it is not convenient and when it takes us out of our comfort zone. Living that second great commandment is the key to becoming a true disciple of Jesus Christ.”
So in a world that sometimes feels filled with sorrow, it is not a surprise to me that our leaders repeated the message of the importance of kindness and caring for others. I believe that kindness will bring joy, not only to the receiver but also to the giver as he or she becomes a true disciple of Jesus Christ.
Lead image: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
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