Anonymous- John Weightman
Thomas S. Monson
Perhaps no one in my reading has portrayed this teaching of the Master quite so memorable or so beautifully as Henry Van Dyke in his never-to-be-forgotten "The Mansion."
In this classic is featured one John Weightman, a man of means, a dispenser of political power, a successful citizen. His philosophy toward giving can be gained from his own statement: "Of course you have to be careful how you give, in order to secure the best results-no indiscriminate giving-no pennies in beggars' hats!...Try to put your gifts where they can be identified and do good all around." (See "The Mansion," in Unknown Quantity: A Book of Romance and Some Half-told Tales, New York: Scribner's 1918 pp. 337,339)
One evening, John Weightman sat in his comfortable chair at his library table and perused the papers before him spread. There were descriptions and pictures of the Weightman wing of the hospital and the Weightman Chair of Political Jurisprudence, as well as an account of the opening of the Weightman Grammar School. John Weightman felt satisfied. He picked up the family Bible which lay on the table, turned to a passage and read to himself the words: "Lay not up for yourselves treasure upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven." (Matt. 6:19-20.) The book seemed to float away from him. He leaned forward upon the table, his head resting on his folded hands. He slipped into a deep sleep.
In his dream, John Weightman was transported to the Heavenly City. A guide met him and others whom he had known in life and advised that he would conduct them to their heavenly homes. The group paused before a beautiful mansion and heard the guide say, "This is the home for you, Dr. McLean. Go in; there is no more sickness here, no more death, nor sorrow, nor pain; for your old enemies are all conquered. But all the good that you have done for others, all the help that you have given, all the comfort that you have brought, all the strength and love that you bestowed upon the suffering, are here; for we have built them all into this mansion for you." ("The Mansion," pp. 361-62)
A devoted husband of an invalid wife was shown a lovely mansion, as were a mother, early widowed, who reared an outstanding family, and a paralyzed young woman who had lain for thirty years upon her bed--helpless but not hopeless--succeeding by a miracle of courage in her single aim: never to complain, but always to impart a bit of her joy and peace to everyone who came near her.
By this time, John Weightman was impatient to see what mansion awaited him. As he and the Keeper of the Gate walked on, the homes became smaller--then smaller. At last they stood in the middle of a dreary field and beheld a hut, hardly big enough for a shepherd's shelter. Said the guide, "This is your mansion, John Weightman." In desperation, John Weightman argued, "Have you not heard that I have built a schoolhouse; a wing of a hospital, three churches." "Wait," the guide cautioned. "They were not ill done. But they were all marked and used as foundations for the name and mansion of John Weightman in the world...Verily, you have had your reward for them. Would you be paid twice?"
A sadder but wiser John Weightman spoke more lowly: "What is it that counts here?" Came the reply, "Only that which is truly given. Only that good which is done for the love of doing it. Only those plans in which the welfare of others is the master thought. Only those labors in which the sacrifice is greater than the reward. Only those gifts in which the giver forgets himself." ("The Mansion," pp. 364-68)
John Weightman was awakened by the sound of the clock chiming the hour of seven. He had slept the night through. As it turned out, he yet had a life to live, love to share, and gifts to give. Oh, may we remember that--A bell is no bell till you ring it. A song is no song till you sing it, And love in your heart wasn't put there to stay, Love isn't love till you give it away. (Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein 2nd, "Sixteen Going on Seventeen.")
May this truth guide our lives. May we look upward as we press our fellowmen. And may we incline an ear toward Galilee, that we might hear perhaps an echo of the Savior's teachings: "Do not your alms before men, to be seen of them." (Matt. 6:1.) "Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth." (Matt. 6:3.) And of our good deeds: "See thou tell no man." (Matt. 8:4.) Our hearts will then be lighter, our lives brighter, and our souls richer. Loving service anonymously given may be unknown to man--but the gift and the giver are known to God. Of this truth I testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
(Elder Thomas S. Monson, CR, April 1983, p. 73)