In the fall of 480 B.C., a massive army of Persians led by King Xerxes massed along the coastlines of Asia Minor, the Greeks, hearing about this threat, started the plans to defend their country. King Leonidas, volunteered 300 of his Spartans to march, along with 5000 other Greeks to the region of Thermopylae. There they would hold off the massive force of Persians that has been said to have between 800,000 to 1,000,000 warriors. They held the Persians at bay at a narrow strip of land called the Hot Gates, which was the only pass in the area that the Persians needed to get through to reach the mainland of Greece. For two days the Greeks held the massive Persian army at bay. However, on the night of the second day the Greeks heard about a secret pass that the Persians were taking to attack the Greek force from behind. At that moment King Leonidas dismissed the Greek army to leave the Hot Gates and retreat. But he and his 300 Spartans would stay behind to hold off the Persians one last time, hoping to give time for the rest of the Greeks to re-form with the navy farther south. The Spartans knew they would die the next day, but they were willing to sacrifice their lives for the rest of the Greeks, hoping that their sacrifice would win them the war. Because of this last stand, the Persians lost a huge amount of morale and soldiers to the few that dared to stand up against the guaranteed death that awaited them. Their Sacrifice has been one of the most famous in the whole history of the world.
I have been asked to speak on the blessings we enjoy through sacrifice: sacrifice of our time for service, sacrifice of our sins required to know Christ, and sacrificing our wants for his needs. “Sacrifice is the Crowning test of the Gospel, Men are Tried and tested in this mortal probation to see if they will put first in their lives the things of the kingdom of God.”- Bruce R. McConkie. Since I have been given three distinct sections of sacrifice I will start by speaking on the blessings of giving up our time for service. Throughout my life I’ve been asked as a member of this church to give up time to give service to other members or people who need help, Most of the time it was just little things that never really mattered to me because I enjoy cutting down trees or mowing lawns for people. I got to hang around with other members of the ward who were my friends and made the work fun. But there have been two or three times that I have had a hard time wanting to serve or sacrificing my time, I remember a few months ago when my dad was elders quorum president, he didn’t have enough volunteers for the dairy up at welfare square, I was pretty hesitant to help my dad fill this position because I felt like I had better things to do, like hang out with friends or have dinner, but in the end I decided to help my dad and it turned into a very good experience. I learned a huge amount about the church that I didn’t know, about all of the time and money that the church spends to help the people in need, and I made a few friends from the ward that I hadn’t really gotten to know, so at first that experience to me didn’t seem worthwhile, and in the end it turned out to be a good experience for me. I didn’t get to see who that service would benefit but I made some friendships through it which is always a blessing to me. I’ve been blessed with Parents and pretty much the best extended family that I could ever ask for, they have always shown me that sacrifice is something that we must do, I grew up never knowing that I had the right to say no to someone who needs help, though I would never had said no, I didn’t even know that I had a choice. My parents would tell me stories of their parents and the sacrifices that they made in their lives, my mom told me and my siblings as we were driving home from provo one day that my grandma growing up never had the chance to really be a kid because her mother died at an early age so she had to take care of her brothers and sisters. She sacrificed pretty much all of her time so that her brothers and sisters could try and have a normal life. And my grandpa and grandma horrocks, it seems everytime they come to visit they end up working with my parents the whole time on some project, sacrificing all of their time to help my parents when they could just have chosen to relax and hang with their grandchildren, but then again my parents would make us work anyways. There are so many stories I could tell of the sacrifices my family has made. But In my mind I am about to embark on one of the ultimate adventures that is purely a sacrifice of my time for a service to spread the gospel that everyone needs to hear about. I am giving up two full years! Of my life to the lord for him to tell me to do whatever he wants of me. Ive had a hard time giving up time to go to priesthood session on Saturday nights or to a fireside or something like that. And now im giving up two years to be in the service of the people of Resistancia Argentina. Know this that this wasn’t an easy choice for me to do, I love my family and friends and why would I want to leave them for two years and miss out on all of their lives? But I do it because Jesus Christ wants me to and he gave me the ultimate sacrifice and I couldn’t ignore his call when he has done so much for me. Giving up two years of my life for him isn’t much to ask after he has saved me for eternity. And the people of Argentina want to hear that. I know that serving a mission is the best thing for me to do and I will be blessed beyond what I can imagine! But I believe that the blessings from serving a mission I will enjoy the most will be serving the people of Argentina, the memories made and the happiness that I will see as people turn their lives toward Christ.
Which then moves us on to the second section of sacrifice, sacrificing of our sins required to know Christ. M Russell Ballard said that “Sacrifice is a demonstration of pure love. The degree of our love for the Lord, for the gospel, and for our fellowman can be measured by what we are willing to sacrifice for them. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ manifested the supreme example of this love. His life and ministry established a pattern for us to follow. His divine mission was culminated in a supreme act of love as He allowed His life to be sacrificed for us. Having power over life and death, He chose to submit himself to pain, ridicule, and suffering, and offered His life as a ransom for our sins. Because of His love, He suffered both body and spirit to a degree beyond our comprehension and took upon Himself our sins if we repent. Through His personal sacrifice, He provided a way for us to have our sins forgiven and, through Him, to find our way back into the presence of our Heavenly Father.” Jesus Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice for us, The atonement was given to us so that the whole world and everyone who ever lived has been blessed by his sacrifice, because of him we all can repent and feel clean and happy, and eventually after we die we can all go live with him again if we just show a little effort and interest. 3 Nephi 9: 20 states: READREADREAD; so our sacrifice is to have a broken heart and a contrite spirit, or in easier words, to be sorrowful for your sins and becoming humble, once we have done this Christ can help us be forgiven of our sins. But this is no easy task, I know from experience, becoming humble and admitting my weaknesses took a very long time for me to do, it’s a process that isn’t meant to be taken lightly, but trusting in god and his love throughout will make everything better, we come out stronger and happier than ever before and its such a blessing that we’ve been given the atonement! Like the Anti-Nephi-Lehies of the book of mormon, they used to be lamanites and had murdered many innocent people, then the sons of Mosiah converted them to the ways of the lord and they felt so guilty for their sins that they made a covenant, or a promise with the lord to never again shed blood if god would forgive them of their murdering. So they buried their weapons of war deep in the ground and when war came upon the people of Anti Nephi Lehi they would not take up their weapons, for they had felt so horrible for the sins that they had committed, and when Christ had forgiven them of their most awful sins they would not do anything that might bring them back, for they had never felt so loved and happy. And when the lamanites came and started to slaughter all of the Anti Nephi Lehis, the lamanites slowly started to stop because no one was fighting back they killed over one thousand people before they stopped. Those Anti Nehi Lehis who gave their lives showed they loved Christ more than their own lives, they got to know Christ through their giving up of their sins. And they got to meet Christ that day in heaven, and what a blessing that will be if we can follow in their example, though we might never be called to give our lives up, but we can give our sins up so that we may come to know Christ our Savior, that when we do Die we can talk with him face to face and give our thanks to him!
And Finally we have blessings from giving up our wants for his needs. This is extremely difficult for me to do at times, there are a few things in my life that ive had to give up that I did not want to. Ive given up hanging out with Friends on Sundays, which has been hard at times, ive given up going to rated R with friends, and other activities which makes life a little hard, because ive had a few friends who don’t understand. And there are some times that I would rather sleep in than wake up and go to church, or when I was in high school it was so much easier to sluff seminary than it was to walk to the building. But in the end it came down to what do I want to do, and it used to be a hard choice, but as I started to make those decisions that Christ would want me to choose life became a little easier, when we decide to follow what Christ wants us to do he blesses us, like with my friends that didn’t understand they learned to respect my standards and they just lived with it, and actually changed for the better when they were around me. Which was a blessing for me, as we follow Christ and sacrifice our wants for his needs we learn that his way is a lot easier to follow than the way of the world, President Gordon B Hinkley said “It is not a sacrifice to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is never a sacrifice when you get back more than you give. It is an investment, ¼ a greater investment than any. ¼ Its dividends are eternal and everlasting” As long as we think in a earthly perspective and not in the perspective of who we will be after this life, giving up our wants in this world will be a lot harder. There is a good example in the bible of this, in Matthew 19: 16-29 it reads, the man wasn’t willing to give up his earthly possessions and therefore forfeited his eternal glory, while those who followed Christ and gave up their all would recieve all they could ever want in the next life. I really like this scripture chain, it gives me comfort in knowing that if I can give up my wants Christ will bless me a lot more. Giving up the things we love can be extremely hard, but if we can try and strive to have an eternal perspective in everything we do life can be easier. Bruce R McConkie has helped me realize this a little better with a quote I once read of his, it reads, “Sacrifice pertains to Mortality in the eternal sense there is none. Sacrifice involves giving up the things of this world because of the promises of blessings to be gained In a better world. In the eternal perspective there is no sacrifice in the giving up of all things- even including the laying down of ones life- if the eternal life is gained through such a course.” I found it interesting that after this life Sacrifice does not exist, which gives me a little more initiative to try and be better in my life.
In the end, I hope we all strive to add a little sacrifice to our lives, God will definitely bless us for our sacrifices, just look at how much our church is blessed because of the sacrifices the pioneers gave to make a future for us, in conclusion I would like to quote a poem I feel fits my talk, it was written by Helen Steiner Rice and is called the Praying Hands
The Praying Hands
The “Praying Hands” are much, much more than just a work of art; They are the soul’s creation of a deeply thankful heart—
They are a priceless Masterpiece that love alone could paint, And they reveal the selflessness of an unheralded saint.
These hands, so scarred and toilworn, tell the story of a man Who sacrificed his talent in accordance with God’s plan—
For in God’s plan are many things man cannot understand, But we must trust God’s judgment and be guided by His Hand. Sometimes He asks us to give up our dreams of happiness, Sometimes we must forego our hopes of fortune and success. Not all of us can triumph or rise to heights of fame,
And many times what should be ours, goes to another name— But he who makes a sacrifice, so another may succeed,
Is indeed a true disciple of our blessed Savior’s creed—
For when we give ourselves away in sacrifice and love,
We are laying up rich treasures in God’s kingdom up above— And hidden in gnarled, toilworn hands is the truest art of living Achieved alone by those who’ve learned the victory of giving; For any sacrifice on earth made in the dear Lord’s name,
Assures the giver of a place in Heaven’s Hall of Fame—
And who can say with certainty where the greatest talent lies, Or who will be the greatest in our Heavenly Father’s eyes!
—Helen Steiner Rice
I would just like to bear my Testimony……