Welfare Program, a Wonderful Thing
President George Albert Smith
President of the Church
(Conference Report October 1949, pp. 167-173)

I am delighted with what has been said during this entire conference. The Lord has blessed those who have addressed us. He has blessed those who have furnished us with such delightful music.

We are almost ready to adjourn, and from this building and the adjoining building there will go men and women to many parts of the world.

You will find no other place in the world that is more peaceful or more comfortable or more delightful than here where we have been during the last few days, waiting upon the Lord with the assurance that when even two or three should meet together in his name (Matt. 18:20), he would be there to bless them. Surely, we have been blessed.

Wickedness in World

The world is sick. It is not the first time it has been sick. It has had a good many different experiences of that kind. Sometimes nations have had to be wiped out because of the wickedness of the people who live in them. The Lord, all down through the ages, has spoken to his leaders and teachers who are inspired, but when the world refuses to heed after it has been properly taught, it places itself in a position of saying to our Heavenly Father who owns this world—he is our landlord—"We do not need you. We will do just as we please."

Unfortunately, people who think that way do not realize how they are shortening their own experiences in life, and setting the stage for the sorrows that may follow.

Think of the condition of our own nation, with all the blessings that we enjoy; and yet men, women, and children are being distressed and annoyed because of the determination on the part of a few to have their own way. This nation does not belong to the people who live here. We are permitted to be citizens of it just as we are permitted to be members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is not our Church, and this is not our nation.

A Blessed Land

The Lord raised up men to frame a Constitution (D&C 101:80) for this nation because it was his nation. It was his desire that the people here would be blessed, and there have been no people in all the world who have been more blessed than those who live in the United States of America.

We have every comfort that you can think of, every blessing that is enjoyed by people in any other nation, and then we have the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our conscience (A of F 1:11) because the Lord himself made that provision in the Constitution of the United States and in the framing of the laws that govern this nation.

I wonder if we appreciate that. Do we realize that we can lose it all just as we can lose it with any epidemic? If an epidemic of some kind, that we did not have a remedy for, was to break out among the people and increase and increase, it would be possible for this entire nation to be wiped out.

Carelessness Evident

Yet we are trifling with our Heavenly Father and his advice and his counsel. He gave to us his commandments through Moses, anciently, and he gave us advice and counsel in our day through the Prophet Joseph Smith that is intended to keep us in a frame of mind that we would honor God and keep his commandments, that we would love one another (John 13:34).

It does seem strange how careless we are when we realize we may be destroyed. Think of the atom bomb. If it is all that they say it is, it would be possible to wipe out one of our great cities with its millions of people in just a few moments of time.

Do we want that kind of thing? Are we going to continue contending for something of physical power and physical strength or are we going to the Lord and honor him and keep his commandments?

Judge Not

I will read you something in the scripture I have here, something that will give us cause to think. It is so easy to criticize someone else, so easy to find fault, and sometimes we speak harshly of our neighbors and friends. Now this is what our Heavenly Father gave us in the days of Matthew. He said:

Judge not, that ye be not judged.

For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? (Matt. 7:1-4).

As a people we are advised not to be critical, not to be unkind, not to speak harshly of those with whom we associate. We ought to be the greatest exemplars in all the world in that regard. Consider the criticism today. Pick up your newspapers and see the unkind things that are being said by individuals about others, and yet many times the individual who is criticizing has a beam in his own eye and does not see at all clearly, but he does think his brother has a mote in his eye (Matt. 7:3-5). I would like to call attention to that situation.

There is growing in our own country, really, a conflict between capital and labor, or may I say between the rich and the poor. What does the Lord say about things of that kind?

Welfare Program

We have been told this afternoon about the welfare program, about how it is possible to help those who are in need. Since the war closed, this Church has imparted of its substance in very large measure to those who are in need. But all this time we have been just as well off, or better off, perhaps, than we would have been if we had not sent over 16,000 packages, 9000 quilts and 131 carloads of food and bedding and clothing to Europe to people who were needing it more than we needed it. We have not missed it.

The Lord gave a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith. He said:

Behold, thus saith the Lord unto my people—you have many things to do and to repent of; for behold, your sins have come up unto me, and are not pardoned, because you seek to counsel in your own ways.

And your hearts are not satisfied. And ye obey not the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness (D&C 56:14-15).

Our Shortcomings

I thought when one of our brethren was talking to us and telling us of the little shortcomings each of us may have, and each of us has some, I am sure—some more than others—I thought how careless we are in observing the Sabbath day.

How careless we are about attending to our prayers. How careless we are in failing to thank the Lord for the food that we have so abundantly, I would like to say abundantly, and that there is no necessity for any man, woman, or child in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to go without, for the Church is organized to help those who lack the necessities of life. There is plenty for all, and to spare (D&C 104:17).

Generosity Shown

We have in the Church many wonderful individuals—and out of the Church many wonderful individuals. I heard of a case here just a few days ago of a man who had been informed that a child had polio and had to go to the hospital. The probability was it would recover but would remain ill for months or years. I am speaking of a man who is not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He lives in this part of the world, however.

He was told of the situation, and that there was no way of obtaining what was needed. When he was informed it would take $700 to provide treatment for this particular child, and it was not known where the money could be obtained, he said, "You get what is needed and send the bill to me."

The man was a wealthy man. He will not miss it. In fact, there is an old saying that has come down to us that they who give to the poor but lend to the Lord. This man has made an investment in the life of a child, and he has made an investment in his own happiness that will return to him great dividends.

Not all people who are well-to-do would think they could do that. They would say, "Get somebody else. Let us take up a collection. Get somebody else to do it."

Advice to Rich and Poor

This is what the Lord says further in that same chapter, and I am reading from the fifty-sixth section of the Doctrine and Covenants:

Wo unto you rich men, that will not give your substance to the poor, for your riches will canker your souls; and this shall be your lamentation in the day of visitation, and of judgment, and of indignation: The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and my soul is not saved! (D&C 56:16).

That is what the Lord says of the rich people who refuse to impart of their substance to those who are poor. But he says something just as serious to the poor man who is not doing his best. He says:

Wo unto you poor men, whose hearts are not broken, whose spirits are not contrite, and whose bellies are not satisfied, and whose hands are not stayed from laying hold upon other men's goods, whose eyes are full of greediness, and who will not labor with your own hands! (D&C 56:17).

That is the situation of many of our own brothers and sisters in America with all the blessings that we enjoy—better wages, better homes, better opportunities for education than have ever been known before. Yet we have today men who not only will not work themselves, but they also will not permit somebody else to be employed. They are not willing to earn their living by work, but they propose to take it from the rich man.

The Pure in Heart

So the Lord says of them, "Wo unto them," the same as he says of the poor. Then he said further, "But blessed are the poor who are pure in heart." There is quite a difference there,

. . . blessed are the poor who are pure in heart, whose hearts are broken, and whose spirits are contrite, for they shall see the kingdom of God coming in power and great glory unto their deliverance; for the fatness of the earth shall be theirs (D&C 56:18).

They are those who have not the wealth of the world but still have life and being and intelligence, and who are anxious to do the thing the Lord would have them do.

He says further,

For behold, the Lord shall come, and his recompense shall be with him, and he shall reward every man, and the poor shall rejoice;

And their generations shall inherit the earth—

there will be more poor than any other kind, undoubtedly—

. . . and their generations shall inherit the earth from generation to generation, forever and ever. And now I make an end of speaking unto you. Even so. Amen (D&C 56:19-20).

Idlers and Laborers

That was the Lord talking to the Prophet Joseph Smith in our day in June 1831.

He has further said,

Thou shalt not be idle; for he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer (D&C 42:42).

Now, my brethren and sisters, we have both rich and poor in our organizations. If we are poor, we can be worthy just as the Lord indicates here. We can be pure in heart and do our best, and he will not permit those who do their best to suffer for the necessities of life among the people who are in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Our welfare program has been a wonderful thing, a program by which unemployed may be employed, and a way has been opened for men and women who cannot do much work but who can do something to be gainfully employed. How much better off we are when we are occupied with some reasonable work.

Consider the condition in the world, the number who are determined to take from the rich man not what belongs to themselves, but that which belongs to the others. God has permitted men to get wealth, and if they obtained it properly, it is theirs, and he will bless them in its use if they will use it properly.

I hope we are not going to become bitter because some men and women are well-to-do. If we are well-to-do, I hope we are not going to be self-centered and unconscious of the needs of our Father's other children. If we are better off than they are, we ought to be real brothers and sisters, not make-believe. Our desires should be to develop in this world such an organization that others, seeing our good works would be constrained to glorify the name of our Heavenly Father (Matt. 5:16).

We have had a wonderful conference. Where in all the world could you go to find such an organization, to witness such assemblies as we have had here on this block, this week? This is the Lord's house. This is the Lord's work. You have been addressed and advised and counseled by the servants of the Lord, men who are giving their time and the best they have in them—as has been indicated—some of them not well enough now because they have overworked. They are trying to do what our Heavenly Father would like all of us to do.

Covetousness

We must not fall into the bad habits of other people. We must not get into the frame of mind that we will take what the other man has. Refer back to the Ten Commandments, and you will find one short paragraph, "Thou shalt not covet" (Ex. 20:17). That is what is the matter with a good many people today. They are coveting what somebody else has, when as a matter of fact, many of them have been cared for and provided with means to live by those very ones from whom they would take away property,

We must not get into that frame of mind. Others may do that, but if we have the spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ in our hearts, we will not be deceived in that regard.

We are told that we cannot serve God and some other master (Matt. 6:24). We have to make our choice, and if we want to be the servants of God and the children of our Heavenly Father and earn his blessings, we must do it by honoring him and by keeping his commandments. Our feelings, and our love, if I may use that expression, should go out to all the world as far as they will receive it. We in our humble way, with the blessings of our Heavenly Father, go among them to teach them the gospel of Jesus Christ that will prepare them for eternal happiness.

Sacrifice Brings Blessings

I am grateful to you, my brethren and sisters, for the privilege of being here with you today. As I look into your faces and see this great audience in this, the Lord's house, I would like to say in the name of Jesus Christ, that our Father in heaven will bless you for whatever sacrifice you may have made to come here to worship. He will bless your families, and he will bring to you a richness of experience and light that you could obtain in no other way. That your sons and daughters may grow up to honor our Heavenly Father. I humbly pray.

The most precious of all the jewels that the Lord has bestowed upon any of us are our children, and we are responsible for them in their tender years. The Lord says that the parents in Zion (or in any of the stakes which are organized) who fail to teach their children faith in God, repentance, baptism when eight years of age, the sin be upon the heads of the parents (D&C 68:25), not upon the schoolteachers, not upon the mayors and governors, but the sin be upon the heads of the parents. We must not suffer the effects of that sin in our lives.

Let us gather our families together when we return to our homes, and under the influence of prayer thank our Heavenly Father for our blessings and face our problems honestly and faithfully, with love in our hearts for all people, for the Lord says we must love our enemies as well as our friends (Matt. 5:44). If we can learn to do that, we will be happy.

Now that peace and joy and comfort and satisfaction may abide with all of us who are here, with all the members of the Church wherever they may be in all the world, and with all our Father's children, that they may learn as a result of obedience to his commandments how to be happy in this life and prepare for eternal happiness is my humble prayer.

That is what the gospel is for, to prepare us not just for the comforts of mortality but for eternal happiness. That we may live to be worthy of these blessings, I pray, and I invoke upon you all the favor and blessing of our Heavenly Father this day and henceforth in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.