The first great commandment to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength” (Mark 12:30) seems on the surface to be so simple. Truly, how hard can it be to love God? We say we love Him, but do we show it? The Savior taught the way to show our love for God, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15), and “If ye love me, feed my sheep.” (John 21:16) Yet all around us we see people, even ourselves, professing to love God but being unwilling to obey and follow all His commandments.
“The great test of life is obedience to God. “We will prove them herewith,” said the Lord, “to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them” (Abr. 3:25).
The great task of life is to learn the will of the Lord and then do it.
The great commandment of life is to love the Lord” (The Great Commandment – Love the Lord, Ezra Taft Benson, General Conference April 1988).
Showing our love to God is more than just uttering words. It takes action on our part. We must be willing to give up, give in, let go, trudging onward until we are fully able to turn our will over to Him and trust Him completely. Trust that following His commandments really does and will bring us the greatest happiness.
Earlier this week in seminary, a young man shared this quote from President Uchtdorf’s General Conference address Living the Gospel Joyful. First I was impressed that he read a talk from the General Women’s Session, but I was more impressed that this young man was able to apply this teaching to his own life and shared with the class that home teaching was one of those commandments that caused him to grit his teeth and just do it.
“For some of us, obedience to God’s commandments doesn’t always feel very joyful. Let’s face it: there may be some that seem harder or less appealing—commandments that we approach with the enthusiasm of a child sitting before a plate of healthy but hated vegetables. We grit our teeth and force ourselves to comply so that we can move on to more desirable activities.
Perhaps during times such as these, we might find ourselves asking, “Do we really need to obey all of God’s commandments?”
My response to this question is simple:
I think God knows something we don’t—things that are beyond our capacity to comprehend! Our Father in Heaven is an eternal being whose experience, wisdom, and intelligence are infinitely greater than ours. Not only that, but He is also eternally loving, compassionate, and focused on one blessed goal: to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life.
In other words, He not only knows what is best for you; He also anxiously wants you to choose what is best for you.”
Ah, that wonderful gift of agency! God will not force us to obey. It is up to us to choose to obey and keep His commandments. It is in that act of choosing to obey that we are able to show our love for the Lord. And that can be hard when we are faced with choosing to please God over choosing to please someone we love and respect; whether it be a boss, a close friend, or even a family member. But choose we must because even our act to remain neutral shows where our allegiance and love lies.
We know the doctrine. We know the commandments. In choosing to obey them we draw strength from the Lord and do not need to follow every “trendy transgression that comes along”¹ because it is pleasing to the world. Instead we chose that which pleases God. How do you show God you love Him? We show our love by the very choices we make to keep His commandments, all of them.
1. Jeffrey R. Holland, An Evening With a General Authority 2015
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