When I was a young mother living in the Pacific Northwest in the early 1990's I was giving my dear friend, Mollie Packer, a ride to church. Mollie was in her eighties by then, so she had a lot more experience with life and people than I. My motives for service may have been a bit misguided when I mentioned to her in the car, “If I ever had a million dollars, I would love to do such-and-such to help people.”
You need to realize that Mollie had never had much. She was raising babies in Oklahoma during the depression and making little outfits for them out of flour sacks. She replied to my million dollar wish in her strong mid-western accent, “Well, Gwen, I never had a million dollars, but I sure helped a lot of people”.
She still lived in very, very humble circumstances with her husband, Johnny, and she went on to tell me of the countless 3-hour trips she had made with friends or acquaintances who needed rides to Seattle, 1-1/2 hours south, for medical treatments. Sometimes she drove because they needed the ride, other times she drove just to provide emotional support. She had a very generous heart.
I miss Mollie and Johnny. Neither one was over 5-feet tall, but they were big in spirit. Johnny had an artificial leg (and eye!) and he used to show my children his bucket of old prosthetic legs that didn't work any more (twelve or so). I'm not sure if my children miss that. Mollie and Johnny were my children's "adopted" grandparents, since we lived far away from my mother and my husband's parents. Mollie and Johnny used to tell me, "You know we've adopted ya, we just don't have the papers on ya yet."
Mollie was an example to me of the greatest motive for service. Dallin H. Oaks said, “[Charity] the motive [for service] . . . is, in my opinion, the highest reason of all. In its relationship to service, it is what the scriptures call “a more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31)
The apostle Paul continues to teach us about the motive for service (this "more excellent way") in 1 Corinthians 13:
“Charity is the pure love of Christ”.
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal."
“And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor,…and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”
Dallin H. Oaks continues, “We know from these inspired words that even the most extreme acts of service—such as giving all of our goods to feed the poor—profit us nothing unless our service is motivated by the pure love of Christ. . . and the love of His children.”
Remembering Mollie today has given me a chance to reevaluate my motives for loving others, the motives behind everything I choose to do.
Charity really is "a more excellent way".