Merry Christmas

December is the time of year that I usually tell the story of Pancho Clos, the South Pole cousin of Santa Claus. "You know how Santa makes the children wonder what they are going to get for Christmas? Pancho helps them think of what they are going to give, because happiness and peace comes in the service we give to others." The real message of Christmas is that "God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son" (John 3:16). What did Jesus do when He was on the earth? He spent all His time serving others, then taught by example that the greatest expression of love is giving oneself entirely and selflessly for others (John 13:15). His disciples taught that we receive the love of God only when we think of others (1 John 3:17; Mosiah 2:17).

Of course, everyone knows these principles. Just look at the Christmas TV and movie specials. Every one of them shows miserable seekers of worldly pleasures contrasted with people who find happiness by giving time to strangers, friends, and family. If everyone knows this, what happens that distracts so many from the path of happiness? The time will come when the knowledge of the Savior shall spread to every nation, kindred, tongue and people, but until then, the natural man is an enemy to God (Mosiah 3:19,20). What is natural? to think of yourself first. To be happy like God, do what God does, seek the happiness of others (Moses 1:39). When Nephi understood the condescension of God (1 Nephi 11:26-33), he realized that God's purpose for us is that we might be happy, like He is (2 Nephi 2:25). When Adam understood the purpose of the Law of Sacrifice, he knew that he could have joy in this life as well as in the world to come (Moses 5:10).

The Time Magazine "Person of the Year 2009" is Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve. He is credited with having reshaped the global economy this year, saving all nations from a disastrous financial depression. His response to a crisis caused by greed was to make money more available. There is nothing new in this tendency of mankind. Paul wrote that many sorrows come to those who love money more than righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and meekness. They fall into temptation, snares, foolish and hurtful lusts, destruction, and perdition. He says that they have erred from the faith and are pierced through with many sorrows (1 Timothy 6: 9-11). Malachi noted the common tendency of man to "rob God" and explained God's plan for financial success: "bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse that there may be meat in mine house... I will open the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it" (Malachi 3:7-11). What we bring to God's storehouse is available to help others.

God is happy as He serves us. We are happy as we serve others (Matthew 19:20). I can't give money to every needy person, but I can find peace as I pay tithes and offerings so that the needy can be helped. God provided the Law of Sacrifice to bring us to this state of happiness as we serve others. "And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it." (Mosiah 2:41).