General Conference with King Benjamin to Aid the Poor & the Needy
King Benjamin laid the religious, political and social framework for Nephite society. From his father, Mosiah, Benjamin learned and applied all the principles he observed and in turn, commuted those principles to his son, Mosiah II, which became laws of community responsibility that guided the Nephite nation for generations.
And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish (Mosiah 4:16),
said King Benjamin to his subjects as he spoke to them from his tower at the temple in the city of Zarahemla. He sent his son Mosiah to call all the people together for a great conference where he intended to deliver his final instructions to the people of Nephi and confer the Kingdom upon Mosiah before his death.
One of the many topics upon which he touched was that of altruism. Having worked his entire life for his own support and successfully being self-sufficient all that time, King Benjamin turned his attention to those of his people who were not.
He loved his people. When he spoke, he could imagine the aid that he would provide personally to any of his brethren who stood in need whatever their circumstance.
His position of influence with his people consisted of the power of his office as King, his office as High priest and prophet and his personal example to all of his citizens. The purpose of this article is not to make Benjamin appear to be more than a flawed man. Though he was flawed, he lived the principles that he taught with the principle of community being one of many ideas he shared.
President Russell M. Nelson
President Russell M. Nelson (Elder at the time of the following comment) of the responsibility of and fraternity of all mankind to each other in his sermon during the October 2013 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Said he
As children of God, we should love Him with all our heart and soul, even more than we love our earthly parents. We should love our neighbors as brothers and sisters. No other commandments are greater than these. And we should ever revere the worth of human life, through each of its many stages.2
God expects His children to love their neighbors as siblings and Him more than earthly parents! If the people of God love each other as such, they would treat each other with the love and the respect each other deserves. Christians, true followers of Christ are to make sure that their family is provided for in all things.
Doing Good is a Pleasure
We are children of the same Heavenly Father, and we have been sent into the world to do good to one another. President Lorenzo Snow of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is quoted teaching:
We are of the same Father in the celestial worlds. … If we knew each other as we should, … our sympathies would be excited more than they are at the present time, and there would be a desire on the part of every individual to study in their own minds how they might do their brethren good...1
The Message is Unchanged
The purpose of quoting the modern witnesses above is to show how consistently the message for succoring the poor remains from then to the present.
And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another (Mosiah 4:21)
King Benjamin wanted to impress upon his people the importance of succoring the poor while they were thus feeling the spirit of God. The people had just experienced a pentecostal moment in their repentance process as their king entreated them on behalf of the poor.
He taught that if a person has it to give, he or she must give! Benjamin does not mince words as he reminds his followers that all are beggars before God whether they admit it or not. He somberly informs those in his hearing of the consequences of not helping the poor.
Benjamin impressed upon the minds of his followers the need to provide for all people in need. It is arguable that his form of providing included instruction of the poor and needy to become self-reliant.
What a great form of degrading humanity with the creation of a class of people who are beholden to another for their substance and welfare. Succoring by definition seems that it includes helping to remedy the situation that caused the need in the first place.
Impart of Your Substance
Benjamin taught that all people get their substance through the indirect ministrations of God Himself. At the very least, God created the molecular bonds which make the substances humankind uses.
King Benjamin reasons,
And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another. (Mosiah 4: 21).
How much greater a desire should humanity towards altruism seeing that God has provided all things! Are not all dependent on the grace of God in his kindness to provide the sphere called earth with an atmosphere surrounding it that supports human life?
Speaking directly to his people, Benjamin appeals to the fact that they had just asked of God things that were right, which he had given to them, forgiveness.
What of those that petition Believers?
...if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God... (Mosiah 4:24)
Benjamin did not say that individuals HAD to give to every person that asked. For example, those who throw coins at beggars on the street who return each day for that same dependency handout. Those people lull themselves into thinking they are keeping community; it is not so!
Benjamin taught that if a person goes to the aid of another in need of help so that he or she may help themselves to survive and is turned away and judged because of his or her situation then a just judgment of the person will come.
Did that person with substance get help when he or she sought the Lord, though all who did seek after Him were not worthy of that help? The point of the entire philosophy is to give to all freely that are in need as God gives.
God rewards all people for obeying each command.
Each command comes with a commiserate blessing in store. As people of the earth of all faiths and lack of faiths obey a commandment, they receive the promised blessing. With the same token, any commandment that a person ignores or violates comes with its own blessing!
What is Your View?
Have your been blessed by giving to others?
© 2014 Rodric Anthony Johnson