Jesus Christ brought a new gospel of love to the people. He said, “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 all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34-35).
The Savior taught the principle of love on many occasions. He was once asked by an inquiring lawyer,“Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” The Savior replied, “Thou shalt love the Lord that 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).
What is love? Love is something that develops in us when we are open to it. How does one develop love? We develop love by acting on the principle of “as if.” Sometimes, love comes naturally. Other times, we have to work to develop love for another person. When we act as if we love someone, we will soon develop love for them. President Thomas S. Monson discusses the importance of love for God and love for our fellowmen.
We cannot truly love God if we do not love our fellow travelers on this mortal journey. Likewise, we cannot fully love our fellowmen if we do not love God, the Father of us all. … We are all spirit children of our Heavenly Father and, as such, are brothers and sisters. As we keep this truth in mind, loving all of God’s children will become easier.
Actually, love is the very essence of the gospel, and Jesus Christ is our Exemplar. His life was a legacy of love. The sick He healed; the downtrodden He lifted; the sinner He saved. At the end the angry mob took His life. And yet there rings from Golgotha’s hill the words: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” [Luke 23:34] – a crowning expression in mortality of compassion and love.
There are many attributes which are manifestations of love, such as kindness, patience, selflessness, understanding, and forgiveness. In all our associations, these and other such attributes will help make evident the love in our hearts.
Usually our love will be shown in our day-to-day interactions one with another. All important will be our ability to recognize someone’s need and then to respond.
President Monson practiced what he preached, and he went about loving and helping other people. He was questioned in 2008 about his ideal birthday gift, and this is how he answered the question. He basically told people how to love one another. “Do something for someone else on that day to make his or her life better. Find someone who is having a hard time or is ill or lonely and do something for them. That’s all I would ask.”
President Monson recently celebrated his 90th birthday, and he is still concerned that we love and help each other. In his address in the April 2017 General Conference, he asks us to examine our lives and follow the “Savior’s example by being kind, loving, and charitable.”
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor to President Monson, says that “love is the central motive for all we do” in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He then asks what we should do after “we declare our love for God and for our fellowman.” Is it enough to feel love for others? Does a declaration of love satisfy our responsibility to love God and love our neighbor? President Uchtdorf uses the “Parable of the Two Sons” to show the teachings of the Savior.
At the temple in Jerusalem, the chief priests and elders of the Jews approached Jesus to trap Him in His words. The Savior, however, turned the tables on them by telling a story.
“A certain man had two sons,” He began. The father went to the first and asked him to go work in the vineyard. But the son refused. Later that son “repented, and went.”
The father then went to his second son and asked him to go work in the vineyard. The second son assured him that he would go, but he never went.
Then the Savior turned to the priests and elders and asked, “Which one of these two sons did the will of his father?”
They had to admit that it was the first son – the one who said he would not go but later repented and went to work in the vineyard (Matthew 21:28-32)
The Savior used this story to emphasize an important principle – it is those who obey the commandments who truly love God.
President Uchtdorf answers his own question, “After love, then what?” in closing his talk. “If we truly love the Savior, we incline our hearts to Him and then we walk in the path of discipleship. When we love God, we will strive to keep His commandments” (John 14:15). He continues, “If we truly love our fellowmen, we extend ourselves to help “the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted” (Doctrine and Covenants 52:40). For they who do these selfless acts of compassion and serve, (Mosiah 18:8-9) the same are disciples of Jesus Christ.”
In summary, we show our love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ by obeying Their commandments and by keeping the covenants that we make with Them. We show our love for our neighbor by treating them with kindness, acting with compassion toward them, and serving them.