Episode 14. May 1, 2016. It is Sunday, May 1st here in the Philippines and this is episode 14 of my znukcast. My name is Tom Kunz and today I want to talk to you about unnamed heroes. So with that, let’s get started.
Who among us does not like to be recognized when we do something good? I think it is a natural human desire. This seems to be even more important to those who may have felt ignored as young child. I think I can speak with some authority here, based on my own experience of needing to be recognized. However, from the scriptures we learn that we should do good without any expectation of reward. Matthew 6:2-4 says it best: Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. We learn from the footnote in the New Testament that “Alms” can be defined as acts of righteousness or religious devotion, including acts of service or charity.
It is with this scripture as a backdrop that I want to talk about three unnamed heroes in the scriptures. I am confident there are more, but these are three that I have taken note of and in some small way wish to recognize their courage and commitment to do the right thing.
The first comes from the New Testament in Luke chapter 22 vs. 11-13 where Jesus is speaking to Peter and John about finding a place for the Passover where Jesus, together with his disciples would celebrate Passover and the last supper. ”And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in. And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready. And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.”.
I guess there are actually two unnamed heroes in this story. The first is what appears to be a servant who went out to get water. He must have been inspired to meet Peter and John and then bring them to the house of his employer. For me, however, the real hero in this story was the Goodman of the house. How appropriate that his title in the scriptures is Goodman (referenced in the footnotes as the head of the house). This good man was so in tune with the spirit of the Lord, that he didn’t question or argue with the disciples of Jesus. He didn’t ask for rent or a security deposit. He simply trusted in the spirit that he felt when he met Peter and John and promptly showed them the upper room where the sacrament was instituted and the ordinance of washing of feet performed. Perhaps he had had his own vision of these events or at least heard the still small voice preparing him. In any case, he was prepared to do the Lord’s will. How I want to be like this good man, prepared to do whatever the Lord requires whenever He requires it.
The second unnamed hero I want to mention is a woman and comes from the Book of Mormon in Alma chapter 19 verses 8-10. And he said unto the queen (Speaking of Lamoni’s unnamed wife): He is not dead, but he sleepeth in God, and on the morrow he shall rise again; therefore bury him not. And Ammon said unto her: Believest thou this? And she said unto him: I have had no witness save thy word, and the word of our servants; nevertheless I believe that it shall be according as thou hast said. And Ammon said unto her: Blessed art thou because of thy exceeding faith; I say unto thee, woman, there has not been such great faith among all the people of the Nephites.
Here is a woman, a queen, married to the King who appears to be dead to most, and the cause of his condition is the interaction that he had with Ammon, a Nephite. This powerful woman could have reacted in anger and wrath and demanded that Ammon be put to death, but instead, when her husband’s servants told her that Ammon was a prophet of a Holy God, she believed them and asked Ammon to come in unto her and speak with her and confirm to her that her husband was not dead. You see, this wonderful woman when faced with a choice, chose to believe rather than doubt. More than just believing, Ammon recognized her faith was greater than he had seen among the people of the Nephites. How I want to be like this wonderful woman, ready to believe and exercise faith even when doubt might be an easier course of action.
The third unnamed hero I want to talk about is the least known of the three. In fact, there is no title, nor is there any indication whether it was a man or a woman. The story is found in Helaman chapter 8. I think you know the story quite well. Nephi has just returned from the north where he was completely rejected. He comes home and prays from his garden tower. As he is praying, passers by hear him and soon a crowd forms. When Nephi arises from his prayer he is astonished that so many people have gathered. He asks them “Behold, why have ye gathered yourselves together? That I may tell you of your iniquities?” He then proceeds to call the entire Nephite nation to repentance, essentially speaking to the crowd as a surrogate for the wickedness of all the people. After 21 verses of preaching repentance, the crowd becomes angry and some of the judges who belonged to the band of Gadianton cried out against him and said: “Why do ye not seize upon this man and bring him forth, that he may be condemned according to the crime which he has done? Why seest thou this man, and hearest him revile against this people and against our law?” These judges continued to cry out against Nephi and “ did stir up the people to anger against Nephi, and raised contentions among them”. And then comes the voice of an unnamed hero. Verse 7 says “for there were some who did cry out: Let this man alone, for he is a good man, and those things which he saith will surely come to pass except we repent”. It is clear from the record that there were some who stood up to these judges, but my experience tells me that this started with one man or one woman who was willing to stand up first and speak out and then others joined in. I love the courage of this individual and their willingness to speak out against something that was clearly wrong. How I want to be like this man or woman!
Unnamed heroes are everywhere. These are the men and women that go about doing good without any expectation of reward. Perhaps you have met them yourselves. Perhaps even more likely, you are one of them.
A number of years ago my wife and I were traveling into the small town where we live. At the time, the road from our home to the town was narrow and because it is a rural area, there were and still are no street lights. About a mile out of town one of the tires on our car went flat. It was getting late in the evening and it was completely dark. I mean completely dark. I pulled off of the road as far as I could without driving into the ditch on the side of the road. I got out to look at the tire and soon a passing car stopped and asked if they could help. I told them no, I just needed to change the tire and they went on their way. This same thing happened again a few minutes later. By this time I had the jack out and was trying to find the spot to jack up the car when a third car came by. But unlike the first two passers by, this man said he would just park behind me, put on his flashers and shine his carlights onto my car so I could see what I was doing. How grateful I was for this unnamed hero who didn’t take no for an answer. He saw a need and then filled it.
Elder Dallin Oaks said it best in an October 1984 Conference address titled “Why Do We Serve” “…those who serve quietly, even ‘in secret,’ qualify for the Savior’s promise that ‘thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.’ (3 Ne. 13:18; see also Matt. 6:4.) … “‘Charity is the pure love of Christ.’ (Moro. 7:47.) The Book of Mormon teaches us that this virtue is ‘the greatest of all.’ (Moro. 7:46.) … “If our service is to be most efficacious, it must be accomplished for the love of God and the love of his children. …. “I know that God expects us to work to purify our hearts and our thoughts so that we may serve one another for the highest and best reason, the pure love of Christ”.
My hope is that we can all be unnamed heroes to others who need help along the way. My challenge to each of us over the coming week is to be an unnamed hero to another son or daughter of God.