President Dieter F. Uchtdorf began his Sunday morning conference address by relating the story of a large statue of Jesus that was severely damaged during a World War II bombing of a city. Experts were able to repair most of the statue, but the hands had been damaged so severely that they could not be restored. The statue remained without hands. The people of the city added to the base of the statue of Jesus Christ a sign: "You are my hands."
'We are the hands of Christ'
Second counselor in the First Presidency, President Uchtdorf said, "When I think of the Savior, I often picture Him with hands outstretched; reaching out to comfort, heal, bless, and love. And He always talked with — never down to — people. He loved the humble and the meek and walked among them, ministering to them and offering hope and salvation.
"This is what He did during His mortal life; it is what He would be doing if He were living among us today; and it is what we should be doing as His disciples and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. … As we emulate His perfect example we can become His hands; our eyes, His eyes; our heart, His heart."
'Our hands can embrace'
President Uchtdorf recollected details arising from his experience as a boy living in the aftermath of World War II in a severely depleted Germany. Humanitarian aid from the Church came to Germany in the form of food and clothing.
"To this day, I can still remember the smell of the clothing and I can still taste the sweetness of the canned peaches," he recalled.
Some German families joined the Church solely because of that humanitarian aid. Unfortunately, many established members looked down upon the new converts — even referring to them by the offensive name "canned-food Mormons." President Uchtdorf expressed his hope that Church members today will embrace new converts better than what transpired in post-World War II Germany.
"I hope we welcome and love all of God's children, including those who might dress, look, speak, or just do things differently," he said. "It is not good to make others feel as though they are deficient. Let us lift those around us. Let us extend a welcoming hand. Let us bestow upon our brothers and sisters in the Church a special measure of humanity, compassion and charity so that they feel, at long last, they have finally found home."
'Our hands can comfort'
President Uchtdorf said it is imperative for Church members to choose to extend compassion to others instead of quickly imposing condemnation.
"With this in mind, let our hearts and hands be stretched out in compassion toward others, for everyone is walking his or her own difficult path," he said. "As disciples of Jesus Christ, our Master, we are called to support and heal rather than condemn. We are commanded to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort (see Mosiah 18:9). … Let us love at all times. And let us especially be there for our brothers and sisters during times of adversity."
'Our hands can serve'
Through a Jewish legend about two brothers, President Uchtdorf illustrated true compassion.
The brothers, Abram and Zimri, jointly owned a field and worked it together. They divided the labor and harvest equally. However, their circumstances were vastly different — Abram had a wife and seven sons while Zimri lived alone. Each brother wanted to donate one-third of his harvest to the other: Abram because he felt his brother worked too hard without any sons to share his burden of labor, and Zimri because he knew his brother had a large family to feed.
The brothers separately went out in the middle of the night to transfer part of their harvest to the other brother's pile under the cloak of darkness. When they ran into each other on another night and realized what they were attempting to do for each other, they wept and embraced.
"This is the spirit of compassion: that we love others as ourselves (see Matthew 22:39), seek their happiness, and do unto them as we hope they would do unto us (see Matthew 7:12)," President Uchtdorf said.
'True love requires action'
Just as faith without works is dead, so also is love meaningless absent action.
"True love requires action," President Uchtdorf said. "We can speak of love all day long — we can write notes or poems that proclaim it, sing songs that praise it and preach sermons that encourage it — but until we manifest that love in action, our words are nothing but 'sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal' (1 Corinthians 13:1). …
"Christ knows how to minister to others perfectly. When the Savior stretches out His hands, those He touches are uplifted and become greater, stronger and better people as a result. If we are His hands, should we not do the same?"
'We can love as He does'
By loving as God loves, we will live in fulfillment of the plan of salvation, President Uchtdorf declared.
"Love is what inspired our Heavenly Father to create our spirits; it is what led our Savior to the Garden of Gethsemane to make Himself a ransom for our sins," he said. "Love is the grand motive of the plan of salvation; it is the source of happiness, the ever-renewing spring of healing, the precious fountain of hope.
"As we extend our hands and hearts towards others in Christlike love, something wonderful happens to us. Our own spirits become healed, more refined, and stronger. We become happier, more peaceful, and more receptive to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit."
To watch this talk on video go to ksl.com.
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company