Valentine's Day reminds us of the need to love and to be loved so I want to wish a Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you even though I do it a little early.
M. Scott Peck reminded us that love is a verb, an action action. "The desire to love is not itself love.... Love is an act of will - namely an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love. No matter how much we may think we are loving, if we are in fact not loving, it is because we have chosen not to love and therefore do not love despite our good intentions. On the other hand, whenever we do actually exert ourselves in the cause of spiritual growth, it is because we have chosen to do so. The choice to love has been made" (The Road Less Traveled, p 83 as quoted by Stephen R. Covey in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, p 35).
There are many scriptures that tell us of the important part that love plays in our lives. For example, John 3:16 says, "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." I know a little bit about loving sons and daughters and understand just a little of the great sacrifice that our Father in Heaven made when He gave His Son Jesus Christ to us. We know that Jesus Christ gave His life because of His love for our Father and His children.
How do we show our love for our Heavenly Father and His Son? Jesus Christ told us, "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:5). With these words, Jesus Christ taught His followers how to be true disciples of the Savior. The same applies with children and mortal parents. If parents truly love their children, they will take good care of them and teach them properly. If children truly love their parents, they will be obedient and respectful.
Some people think that love does away with the need to be obedient, but they are mistaken. Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, "The love of God does not supersede His laws and His commandments, and the effect of God's laws and commandments does not diminish the purpose and effect of His love. … those who understand God's plan for His children know that God's laws are invariable, which is another great evidence of His love for His children…. God's love is so perfect that He lovingly requires us to obey His commandments because He knows that only through obedience to His laws can we become perfect as He is" (Ensign, Nov. 2009, 26-29).
Jesus was asked, "Master, which is the great commandment in the law?" His answer was, "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 22:36-39). Christ taught that to truly love God, we must also love His children. A true disciple of Christ shows his or her love of God by keeping the commandments and showing love to everyone.
Love should be at the center of everything we do. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught, "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 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" (Ensign, November 2009, 21).
Heavenly Father wants us to love Him because He knows that "love determines what we seek. What we seek determines what we think and do. What we think and do determines who we are - and who we will become" (Uchtdorf, p 22).
God loves us and wants us to return to His presence to live with Him and Jesus Christ for all eternity. The commandments as well as the principles and ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are part of the ladder by which we make our way back to heaven. Our obedience shows God how much we love Him.
We can increase our love for God by "aligning our thoughts and actions with God's word" (Uchtdorf, 23). As we reach out to God through prayer, scripture study, and attendance at Church and temple, He reaches out for us and leads us in the way we need to go.
"Love is the guiding light that illuminates the disciple's path and fills our daily walk with life, meaning, and wonder.
"Love is the measure of our faith, the inspiration for our obedience, and the altitude of our discipleship.
"Love is the way of the disciple" (Uchtdorf, 24).
I know that God lives and loves His children - every one of us. I love Him. I want to be known as one who loves God with all my heart, soul and mind and one who loves my neighbor as myself.
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