"May I share with you a formula that in my judgment will help you and help me to journey well through mortality... First, fill your mind with truth; second, fill your life with service; and third, fill your heart with love." Monson 1996
“And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. (Luke 10:25-28)
Most likely, this lawyer was referring to the old testament commandments in Deuteronomy and Leviticus, where it says: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) and “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:18). Of course, the law is quite easy to read and to quote, but so much harder to do and to live.
We have further direction on this matter from our modern day prophets as recorded in our Ensign magazines and conference reports:
President Monson (in 1996) said: "May I share with you a formula that in my judgment will help you and help me to journey well through mortality... First, fill your mind with truth; second, fill your life with service; and third, fill your heart with love."
--Thomas S. Monson, "Formula for Success," Ensign, Mar. 1996, 2
Elder Groberg (2004): "Every person who comes to earth is a spirit son or daughter of God. Since all love emanates from God, we are born with the capacity and the desire to love and to be loved. One of the strongest connections we have with our premortal life is how much our Father and Jesus loved us and how much we loved Them. Even though a veil was drawn over our memory, whenever we sense true love, it awakens a longing that cannot be denied."
--John H. Groberg, "The Power of God's Love," Ensign, Nov. 2004, 9
President Eyring (1996): "The fruit of keeping covenants is the companionship of the Holy Ghost and an increase in the power to love."
--Elder Henry B. Eyring, Ensign, "Witnesses for God", Nov. 1996, 32
"What is love" was the most searched phrase on Google [a few years back (in 2012)], according to the giant search engine company (and remains a popular inquiry today). Several news articles appeared thereafter in attempts to get to the bottom of the question once and for all, gathering so called experts from the fields of science, psychotherapy, literature, religion and philosophy to give their definition of this much-pondered word – according to the world. In one such article (in Dec 2012), the chemist stated that 'Love is Chemistry', the psychotherapist pondered the many meanings of the word, raising more questions, the philosopher stated: 'Love is a passionate commitment': while the last expert, a nun, is quoted: “The paradox of love is that it is supremely free yet attaches us with bonds stronger than death. It cannot be bought or sold; there is nothing it cannot face; love is life's greatest blessing.”
The world, despite it's experts and opinions, really does not really know what love is, where is is found and how to obtain and keep it. We, on the other hand, have more direction to go on:
Elder Ballard (2004): "If we truly understood the Atonement and the eternal value of each soul, we would seek out the wayward boy and girl and every other wayward child of God. We would help them to know of the love Christ has for them. We would do all that we can to help prepare them to receive the saving ordinances of the gospel."
--M. Russell Ballard, "The Atonement and the Value of One Soul," Ensign, May 2004, 86
Elder Wirthlin (2007): "When we love the Lord, obedience ceases to be a burden. Obedience becomes a delight. When we love the Lord, we seek less for things that benefit us and turn our hearts toward things that will bless and uplift others."
--Joseph B. Wirthlin, "The Great Commandment", October 2007 General Conference
President Eyring (2000): "The Savior will let you feel the love He feels for those you serve. The call is an invitation to become like Him."
--Henry B. Eyring, Ensign, "Watch over and Strenghten", May 2000, 66
Next Sunday we will have the opportunity to participate in the Montreal Temple rededication services. On that day, “Stake centers, and other approved locations [all across Canada] where members will view the temple rededication broadcast, [(our local chapels)] become extensions of the temple during the services and [will] be properly prepared to provide a reverent and holy setting.”. In order to be admitted, we must prepare ourselves in a similar manner. We must obtain a Temple Recommend, certifying that we are living worthy enough to be able to participate and view the service. If we let it, the spirit will teach us 'all things we must do' to become more like him, live the gospel: have more faith, repent often and sincerely, make and keep covenants and endure to the end – His love can and will extend to us and to our families. If we let it, the spirit of that meeting, the Holy Spirit, will teach us what we must do in every aspect of our lives. In a sense, our homes can also become 'an extension of the temple' a place of 'love and beauty'.
Our temples are sacred places. Why? Yes, they have been dedicated to the Lord. They are of fine quality and construction, but that is not why. “God called [..] out of the midst of the [burning] bush, and said, Moses, Moses. [..] Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:4-5). The burning bush was holy not in and of itself, but only because of He who was there. In the same way, the sacred grove became 'sacred' because of those who appeared there. Our temples become and are kept holy because of those who walk the halls and because only those of us worthy enough are permitted to enter. Our homes can become holy in the same manner – by those who happen to reside there. We are commanded to 'stand in holy places' (D&C 101:22). Places become holy because holy people are in those places. That is why Zion is defined as 'where the pure in heart dwell' (D&C 97:21) – the people who are pure in heart make it so. Being holy ourselves will make it much more likely for us to be able to 'stand in holy places'.
President Uchtdorf (2008) said: "Though we cannot understand "the meaning of all things," we do "know that God loveth his children" because He has said, "Behold, this is my work and my glory-to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Heavenly Father is able to accomplish these two great goals-the immortality and eternal life of man-because He is a God of creation and compassion. Creating and being compassionate are two objectives that contribute to our Heavenly Father's perfect happiness. Creating and being compassionate are two activities that we as His spirit children can and should emulate."
--Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Happiness, Your Heritage", Ensign, Nov 2008, 117–20
"Our willingness to repent shows our gratitude for God's gift and for the Savior's love and sacrifice on our behalf. Commandments and priesthood covenants provide a test of faith, obedience, and love for God and Jesus Christ, but even more importantly, they offer an opportunity to experience love from God and to receive a full measure of joy both in this life and in the life to come."
--Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "A Matter of a Few Degrees", Ensign, May 2008, 57–60
Elder Wirthlin (2007): "Oh, it is wonderful to know that our Heavenly Father loves us-even with all our flaws! His love is such that even should we give up on ourselves, He never will. We see ourselves in terms of yesterday and today. Our Heavenly Father sees us in terms [tomorrow and] of forever. Although we might settle for less, Heavenly Father won't, for He sees us as the glorious beings we are capable of becoming."
--Joseph B. Wirthlin, "The Great Commandment", October 2007 General Conference
President Monson (2008) declares: "Mortality is a period of testing, a time to prove ourselves worthy to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father. In order to be tested, we must sometimes face challenges and difficulties. At times there appears to be no light at the tunnel's end-no dawn to break the night's darkness. We feel surrounded by the pain of broken hearts, the disappointment of shattered dreams, and the despair of vanished hopes. [..] We feel abandoned, heartbroken, alone. If you find yourself in such a situation, I plead with you to turn to our Heavenly Father in faith. He will lift you and guide you. He will not always take your afflictions from you, but He will comfort and lead you with love through whatever storm you face."
--Thomas S. Monson, "Looking Back and Moving Forward", Ensign, May 2008, 87–90
Elder Wirthlin (2008): "Learning to endure times of disappointment, suffering, and sorrow is part of our on-the-job training. These experiences, while often difficult to bear at the time, are precisely the kinds of experiences that stretch our understanding, build our character, and increase our compassion for others." and "Because Jesus Christ suffered greatly, He understands our suffering. He understands our grief. We experience hard things so that we too may have increased compassion and understanding for others."
--Joseph B. Wirthlin, "Come What May, and Love It", Ensign, Nov 2008, 26–28
Recently as I was working through a difficult situation I found myself in, I thought to myself – why is this happening to me? What am I to learn from this? Why is this so hard? The answer then came to my mind – 'I am to learn compassion for others in similar circumstance'. I realized then that I knew exactly who those others were and that I needed to do something for them.
What attributes should we be cultivating? What 'manner of men' ought we to be or to be becoming? How do we 'become more like him? Life is difficult by design – but it is uniquely designed for each of us to provide opportunity to 'learn by sad experience', to learn to love God by serving those around us: our 'neighbors', to learn empathy for all, and to increase in our reverence for him.
Elder Amado (2008): "Kindness, love, patience, understanding, and unity will increase as we serve, while intolerance, jealousy, envy, greed, and selfishness decrease or disappear. The more we give of ourselves, the more our capacity to serve, understand, and love will grow."
--Carlos H. Amado, "Service, a Divine Quality", Ensign, May 2008, 35–37
Elder Ballard (1988): "Reverence may be defined as a profound respect mingled with love and awe. Other words that add to our understanding of reverence include gratitude, honor, veneration, and admiration. The root word revere also implies an element of fear. Thus, reverence might be understood to mean an attitude of profound respect and love with a desire to honor and show gratitude, with a fear of breaking faith or offending."
--M. Russell Ballard, "God's Love for His Children", Ensign May 1988, 57
President Monson (2008): "Let us relish life as we live it, find joy in the journey, and share our love with friends and family. One day each of us will run out of tomorrows."
--Thomas S. Monson,, "Finding Joy in the Journey", Liahona, Nov 2008, 84–87
Elder Uchtdorf (2009): "Because love is the great commandment, it ought to be at the center of all and everything we do in our own family, in our Church callings, and in our livelihood. Love is the healing balm that repairs rifts in personal and family relationships. It is the bond that unites families, communities, and nations. Love is the power that initiates friendship, tolerance, civility, and respect. It is the source that overcomes divisiveness and hate. Love is the fire that warms our lives with unparalleled joy and divine hope. Love should be our walk and our talk." "When we truly understand what it means to love as Jesus Christ loves us, the confusion clears and our priorities align. Our walk as disciples of Christ becomes more joyful. Our lives take on new meaning. Our relationship with our Heavenly Father becomes more profound. Obedience becomes a joy rather than a burden." "God does not look on the outward appearance. I believe that He doesn’t care one bit if we live in a castle or a cottage, if we are handsome or homely, if we are famous or forgotten. Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely."
--Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "The Love of God", Ensign, Nov. 2009, 21–24
President Uchtdorf continues: "When I think of the Savior, I often picture Him with hands outstretched, reaching out to comfort, heal, bless, and love. And He always talked with, never down to, people. He loved the humble and the meek and walked among them, ministering to them and offering hope and salvation. That is what He did during His mortal life; it is what He would be doing if He were living among us today; and it is what we should be doing as His disciples and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." "True love requires action. We can speak of love all day long, we can write notes or poems that proclaim it, sing songs that praise it, and preach sermons that encourage it but until we manifest that love in action, our words are nothing but sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal."
--Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "You Are My Hands", Ensign, May 2010, 68–70, 75
Last week I sat in the choir seats behind me, along with the stake choir, as we performed in Stake Conference. The final number was a medley of primary songs, each on the subject of 'love' (Love is Spoken Here, Love One Another, Where Love Is). Throughout this past week the melodies and words have often returned to my mind as I pondered this speaking assignment today.
President Monson's directive to: 'first, fill your mind with truth; second, fill your life with service; and third, fill your heart with love' is actually the recipe for finding and keeping love that the world is searching for. The scriptures teach: “I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation;” (D&C 8:2-3). Gospel knowledge and scripture is truth – fill your minds with it – learn and know it. Then live what you know. Compassionate service provides the connection between your mind, what you know, and your life, what you do, that allows the spirit to fill your heart, that which you are, with His love. May we each learn, and do, and become like Him. May we 'fill our minds with truth; fill our lives with service; and fill our hearts with love'.
“By this shall men know ye are my disciples, If ye have love one to another”
“With father(s) and mother(s) leading the way, teaching [us] how to trust and obey;
“That we may dwell with him eternally ..”
I leave these words with you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.