We are all imperfect. We make mistakes every day, and we all wish we had more knowledge, more skill, and more wisdom. But even in our imperfect state, we are all capable of doing good works.
After the people of King Benjamin prayed and received a forgiveness of their sins, Benjamin taught them that they would need to do good in order to retain that forgiveness over time. He gave them some examples of good works:
- feeding the hungry
- clothing the naked
- visiting the sick and administering to their relief
He cautioned them to do all of these things “in wisdom and order.” They should pace themselves and not try to do more than they could. But his final admonition to them was that they be “steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his” (Mosiah 5:15). (See also 1 Corinthians 15:58.)
The word “abound” is derived from the Latin word abundare, which means “to overflow” (Online Etymology Dictionary). The impression I get from this phrase is of a person who does good spontaneously and instinctively. There is no danger of overreaching or of burning themselves out, because good works flow naturally and easily from them.
The prophet Alma, speaking in the city of Gideon, provided some guidance to help us achieve this state of living:
And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works (Alma 7:24).
Christlike attributes lead to Christlike actions, in other words. If we focus on becoming faithful, hopeful, and charitable people, then we won’t have to micromanage our actions too closely. Good works will come easily.
How can we obtain these attributes? By the grace of God. This is why the apostle Paul, when he urged the people to become cheerful rather than grudging givers, reassured them that “God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).
The prophet Moroni emphasized this same point in his description of hope. Echoing the words of the apostle Paul, Moroni called hope “an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God” (Ether 12:4). (See also Hebrews 6:19.)
It is easy to see why a person filled with hope will be more capable of doing good works than a person in despair. Hope motivates us to action. Despair suppresses it. If we can develop and maintain a rock-solid sense of optimism, based on our trust in God, then we can be perpetual producers of good works.
Today, I will focus on developing the attributes of faith, hope, and charity. I will remember that good works will follow naturally as I develop the attributes of Christ.