19 And because thou hast inquired of me concerning the transgressor, thou art blessed.
20 Thou art my servant; and I covenant with thee that thou shalt have eternal life; and thou shalt serve me and go forth in my name, and shalt gather together my sheep.
King Benjamin taught his people that “when [we] are in the service of [our] fellow beings [we] are only in the service of [our] God.” (Mosiah 2:17). In the passage above, we see this principle in action in the life of Alma.
During Alma’s tenure as high priest of the church, he encountered a new challenge: many of the young people were not only choosing not to join the church but were actively influencing others who had joined, convincing them to stop living by the standards expected of church members. Alma felt it was his responsibility as the high priest to take some action, but he didn’t want to do anything which would drive people further away from God. Because “he feared that he should do wrong in the sight of God,” he prayed and asked God for guidance about how to handle the situation (Mosiah 26:13).
The passage above is a portion of God’s response. After commending Alma for praying on behalf of “the transgressor,” He makes a powerful declaration: “Thou art my servant; and I covenant with thee that thou shall have eternal life.” Unlike Enos before him or his own son shortly thereafter, Alma wasn’t praying on his own behalf. He was praying on behalf of these wayward church members whom he loved. I think it’s significant that God’s promise of eternal life came as a response to Alma’s prayer, not for himself, but for other people.
The Savior said, “whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25). Alma lost his life in the service of others and gained the promise that he would inherit eternal life.
Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson has reminded us that we have opportunities to serve others all around us, if we will simply turn outward and pay attention:
I believe that most members consider service to be at the heart of their covenants and discipleship. But I also think that sometimes it’s easy to miss some of the greatest opportunities to serve others because we are distracted or because we are looking for ambitious ways to change the world and we don’t see that some of the most significant needs we can meet are within our own families, among our friends, in our wards, and in our communities. We are touched when we see the suffering and great needs of those halfway around the world, but we may fail to see there is a person who needs our friendship sitting right next to us in class (“The Needs Before Us,” General Conference, October 2017).
Today, I will pay attention to the needs of the people around me. I will pray for them, and I will serve them. I will remember that service is central to my discipleship, and that my Heavenly Father will consider me to be His servant to the degree that I lose myself in serving His children.