By Their Fruits: Eternity, Community, and Service

By Chad Mitchell, Chair, JRCLS Service and Outreach Committee

Mar 31, 2023 | 4:55 PM


A lawyer asked Jesus: “what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus returned a question: what does the law say? The lawyer recited the law: love God and love thy neighbor as thyself. Christ affirmed the lawyer’s answer. The lawyer then asked: “Who is my neighbor?”

The connection between Christ’s exchange with the lawyer and the J. Reuben Clark Law Society’s mission was front and center during the conference in Atlanta. Some examples:

Martin Luther King III’s relationship with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints began with service. In the aftermath of a hurricane that wrecked devastation in Louisiana, the focus was on New Orleans. But fishing towns that had been hit hard too were not getting help. Mr. King had heard about the Church’s efforts to help during disasters and reached out. The Church brought in 1,000 members who provided two weeks of service and many supplies. Mr. King described this as a testament to the seriousness of the Church’s commitment to service.

Judge Bernice Donald received the J. Clifford Wallace Award. Along with many other accomplishments, in 1982 Judge Donald became the first African American woman to serve as a judge in Tennessee. Her law school classmate Dan Norwood worked on Judge Donald’s election campaign and presented her the award. Both testified how their friendship was and continues to be a great source of strength.

Georgia Equality’s Jeff Graham and Elder M. Andrew Galt, an area authority seventy in Georgia, were driven by a desire to bring healing on a divisive issue. They listened, counseled, and then co-authored an article published in the Atlanta Constitution supporting legislation in Georgia that would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination while also protecting religious rights.

Let us return to the lawyer’s exchange with the Savior, when the lawyer asked: who am I supposed to love? Christ shares a story of action, the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Christ could have quoted scripture, or the law. Instead, He shows us how we are supposed to love. The Good Samaritan loves his brother by serving him.

Christ also taught the lawyer that we need neighbors. Our journey to eternal life cannot be reached by ourselves. Sometimes we are the Samaritan and other times the one who “fell among thieves.” We need opportunities to love others and to be served by others. The characters (i.e., the priest, Levite, and Samaritan) used to answer the question “who is my neighbor?” teach us that our love must transcend differences.

When President Annette Jarvis welcomed us to the Atlanta Conference, she described the J. Reuben Clark Law Society as being “focused on service.” This echoes the Savior’s command to the lawyer to “Go and do” as the Good Samaritan did.

It was repeatedly witnessed during the conference that our path to eternal life is a team activity. Service motivated by love is the way. The fruits of that service are respect, dignity, strengthened communities, hope, and lasting friendships.

My prayer is that the J. Reuben Clark Law Society will continue to unite with others to bless the lives of our sisters and brothers. As we serve others, serve with others, and receive service from others, our work will help prepare the world for our Savior’s return. We will become more like Him. #jrclsservice

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