In the Book of Mormon, a king-prophet named Benjamin gave a shocking sermon. It was the kind of sermon meant to provoke, to awaken. The people had come from all over the land and now were spread out en masse. They set up tents and sat as families. King Benjamin climbed up on a tower to deliver his message and looked out at en extraordinary gathering of people. The crowd was so large that copies were made of his speech so that those too far away to hear his voice might still read his words.
Of several themes he discussed that day, one is unavoidably prominent: poverty.
“Ye will succor those that stand in need of your succor,” he told the people. “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.”
We discuss what King Benjamin discussed so many years ago: that we risk our own salvation, our own soul when we ignore the plight of our fellow human beings. When we watch mind-numbing reality TV at the exclusion of educating ourselves and serving those in need. When we fail to vote for and put pressure on politicians to ensure some measure of economic fairness and charity to those less fortunate.
King Benjamin writes: “Perhaps thou shalt say, the man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—”
We hear this argument frequently today. The homeless man will just spend it on booze, the illegal immigrants deserve what they get, the single mom shouldn’t have gotten pregnant in the first place, the Africans should solve their own problems.
But Benjamin warns, “I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done. . .he hath no interest in the Kingdom of God.
“For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have?”
Click Here to Read the full talk (it's even better than the excerpt I posted here)