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Abundance in Zion

By Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

January 2024

Excerpts from an address delivered at the 2023 Gift Planning Council Conference.

Woman giving a bag of groceries to another woman who is holding her child.

“Every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to
the glory of God.”
—Doctrine and Covenants 82:19

Some time ago, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I participated in a G20 interfaith forum with leaders from a wide variety of religious faiths. I was impressed with their humanitarian efforts. Their love for their fellow men and women was unmistakable.

As I reflected on the numerous humanitarian undertakings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I felt deep gratitude for the generosity of those who make such Christlike service possible. In that moment, the Holy Spirit affirmed two things to me. First, the work of ministering to temporal needs is vital and must continue. The second was unexpected, yet powerful and clear. It was this: beyond selfless service, it is supremely important to prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Church is uniquely empowered and commissioned to accomplish the necessary preparations for the Lord’s Second Coming; indeed, it was restored for that purpose. Can you find anywhere else a people who embrace the present era as the prophesied “dispensation of the fulness of times,” in which God has purposed to “gather together in one all things in Christ” (Ephesians 1:10)? If you don’t find here a community intent on accomplishing what needs to be accomplished for both the living and the dead to prepare for that day, if you don’t find here an organization willing to commit vast amounts of time and funds to the gathering and preparation of a covenant people ready to receive the Lord, you won’t find them anywhere.

What can we do to prepare now for that day? We can prepare ourselves as a people; we can gather the Lord’s covenant people; and we can help redeem the promise of salvation “made to the fathers” (Doctrine and Covenants 2:2), our ancestors. All of this must occur in some substantial measure before the Lord comes again.

In ancient times, God took the righteous city of Zion to Himself (see Moses 7:69). By contrast, in the last days, a new Zion will receive the Lord at His return (see Moses 7:62, 64). Zion is “the pure in heart” (Doctrine and Covenants 97:21), a people “of one heart and one mind,” dwelling “in righteousness [with] no poor among them” (Moses 7:18). The Prophet Joseph Smith stated, “We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object.”1

To help us build up Zion on the earth, the Lord has blessed us to live in a time of abundance. My heart goes out to earlier latter-day prophets who led the Church through times of scarcity. Today the Church enjoys many resources that enable us to hasten the work. Without you, without the devotion and contributions of members of the Church and others, we would not have the abundance and opportunities that we have. We each have a role in building up Zion, with “every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 82:19).

Philanthropy is intrinsically tied to gratitude. English scholar Roger Scruton observed:

“The proper response to a gift, even a gift of charity, is gratitude. People who feel gratitude also wish to express it. The easiest way is to give in one’s turn. By giving, you pass on and amplify the goodwill that you received. . . . [You] give without seeking or expecting recognition, but simply because gratitude is expressed through giving.”2

The virtuous cycle of gratitude and philanthropy is reminiscent of this counsel given in the Book of Mormon:

“For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth
a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing. For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness. For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God.” [Moroni 7:6–8]

We must each rely on and foster within ourselves a spirit of gratitude as we build Zion and prepare for the Lord’s return.

Thank you for your kindness, your willingness, and the service you render. I know that Jesus Christ is the living, resurrected Savior and the Head of this Church. He is actively leading and directing the Church as His instrument to prepare for His return, and we are in His hands. I am so grateful that He is willing to take imperfect people and allow us to do this work with Him. He is the Vine and we are the branches. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Notes
1. Joseph Smith, HC 3:390 (July 1839); cited in Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2007), 186.
2. Roger Scruton, “Gratitude and Grace,” The Pursuit of Knowledge, American Spectator 43, no. 3 (April 2010): 53–54.

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