The world has been talking about love for a long time. Who do we love? How do we express love? What does love look like? What does it not look like? We have been spending so much time telling others to love as we do, that we have forgotten to love those very people we are talking to. We have been spending so much time trying to convince everyone else that our way of love is the right way, that we have forgotten to follow the true example of love: Jesus Christ. We talk about love, but do we actually love? Do we follow Jesus Christ’s example?
Loving each other is a commandment:
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
By this shall men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35)
Right there in those verses, Jesus tells us how to love: “as thyself” and “as I have loved you”. We love others as Jesus loves them. We show our love the same way he did. How did Jesus show his love? Through service, forgiveness, and teaching.
Jesus served those He loved, which was everyone. He turned water to wine at a wedding feast when they ran out. He fed 5,000 people who had followed Him to hear His teachings. He helped His disciples catch fish. He raised Jarius’ daughter and Lazarus from the dead. He healed the woman with an issue of blood, the blind man, and the man at the pool of Bethesda. He washed His disciples feet. He did many more acts of service, but the most important was that He died for every single one of us. He gave the biggest sacrifice of all so that we could have the opportunity to repent, be resurrected, and live with Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and our families again.
We may not be able to turn water into another beverage the same way Jesus did, or expand five loaves of bread to feed 5,000 people, but we can find ways to feed those who need it. We can make dinner for a family with a new baby or who has a sick family member. We can donate food to our local food banks, or organizations that feed people in other places, and participate in the food drive at our children’s school.
We may not be able to perform the healing miracles Jesus did, but we care for the sick in our own ways. Those who are doctors, nurses, and volunteers, are serving the sick. We can help care for someone when they are sick, or clean their house, or take care of their kids for them. We also have access to the priesthood, which can give healing blessings. The possibilities are endless!
Jesus also showed His love by forgiving others. He saved the woman caught in adultery from being stoned. He forgave the man sick of the palsy – and healed him as well. He even forgave the Roman soldiers who crucified Him. Jesus also commanded that we forgive others as well:
“I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.” (D&C 64:10)
“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, until seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21-22)
What does “seventy times seven” mean? The footnote sends us to Doctrine and Covenants 98, where we learn that we are to continue forgiving. We forgive if they repent, and we forgive if they do not repent. It is not up to us to seek vengeance, the Lord says that is his job. This can sometimes be a very hard thing to do. Forgiving someone who has not apologized – and who might never apologize – is really hard. But I speak from personal experience when I say that the peace that forgiving someone brings far outweighs holding a grudge and getting revenge.
Jesus also taught us. He had been educated by Heavenly Father himself, and He passed that knowledge to us. He taught people wherever He went. When He was still a child, He taught adults in the temple in Jerusalem. He taught the woman at the well. He taught His disciples, those He healed, those He forgave, and even the Pharisees. After His resurrection He visited and taught the people in the Americas – and very possibly other places around the world as well. Everything was a teaching moment. And because His words were recorded in the New Testament, The Book of Mormon, and The Doctrine and Covenants, we have them, too.
That’s why we teach people about Jesus Christ and His doctrine, because we love them. We shouldn’t teach because we think we are superior or so that we can tally a new baptism. We teach because we love our brothers and sisters. When we love someone we want to share with them things that make us happy. The gospel makes us happy, so of course we share it!
In last month’s home teaching message, President Uchtdorf taught that the center of the gospel is love. He said:
“The more we learn about God and feel his love for us, the more we realize that the infinite sacrifice of Jesus Christ is a divine gift of God. And God’s love inspires us to use the path of true repentance, which will lead to the miracle of forgiveness. The process enables us to have greater love and compassion for those around us. We will learn to see beyond labels. We will resist the temptation to accuse or judge others by their sins, shortcomings, flaws, political leanings, religious convictions, nationalities, or skin color.
We will see everyone we meet as a child of our Heavenly Father – our brother or our sister.
We will reach out to others in understanding and love – even those who may not be particularly easy to love. We will mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort.”
President Uchtdorf’s message matches exactly how Jesus led His life: through love. It is the way we should be living our lives as well. So, as we talk about love, compassion, and service; let’s also actually love, actually be compassionate, and perform actual acts of service. Let’s make sure our actions match our words. The best place to start is looking at Christ’s example, and following Him.