I don’t try to hide the fact that I’m LDS (or as most people know Mormon, but I prefer LDS). However, because I go to a private liberal arts school, a lot of people are surprised when they learn my religious persuasion. I think this is because I take a different approach than most LDS people as to what the gospel means. I gave a talk in church about what I think the gospel is based on and here is a transcript of it.
I’d love to know if you have any questions. Leave them in comments or email me.
I’m currently the Relief Society Secretary at the University Ward and I’m learning a lot about what I’m actually supposed to do in my calling, including a lot about service and love. That’s what I would like to talk about today: love.
The Book of Mormon is the cornerstone of our religion, but I believe that love is the firm foundation of this gospel. One of the times that Christ taught the Pharisees, they asked him what the greatest commandment was. In Matthew 22:37-40 we can find our answer:
37 “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind.”
38 “This is the first and great commandment.”
39 “And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
40 “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Before we can examine how to apply love in our lives, we must first understand what love is. Just within this scripture alone there are two types of love: love of God and love of neighbor.
Love of God, according to lds.org, includes devotion, adoration, reverence, tenderness, mercy forgiveness, compassion, grace, service, gratitude and kindness. It mainly includes keeping his commandments and loving his children.
However, loving his children is a lot harder to define.
Love applies to many different kinds of relationships. Most people think of a romantic couple when it comes to love, but that only covers one aspect of the sphere of love. There is also familial love, which can be (and often is) shared with those not related by blood. There is also platonic or love of friend. All of these are equally viable.
In order to fully understand how we can apply love in our own lives, we should look to the scriptures. The utmost example of love on the earth is Christ. Because he is also the foundation of the gospel, it makes sense that he would be the best example of love. I could spend my entire talk on all of Christ’s examples of love, but I will pick just one.
Christ came to work in the temple when some scribes and Pharisees brought before him an adulterous woman. They asked him what they should do with her, but instead of answering them right away, he bent down and wrote on the ground. I believe Christ did this to give these scribes a chance to figure out the right thing on their own time. When they asked again, he reminded them of the principle they should have been using to answer their own question in the first place. The principle of love.
“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”
They had broken the second greatest commandment of love in seeking to embarrass her before seeking to comfort her.
When the multitude left, he handled the woman with care and told her to sin no more.
This story shows two actions of love. The one I believe we, myself included, struggle with the most is judging others instead of loving them. Tell me, how can you truly love someone and yet judge them for mistakes you do, once have, or will struggle with?
The second is to handle gently those who have suffered much and need help getting back on their feet. Others will chastise them for their misgivings. Has god not told us that those who do wickedly will get what they deserve? Why then do we try to take it into our own hands?
When we love and trust God, he will give us the power of The Holy Ghost so that we can know how best to love our neighbor.
On December 9th, our lesson in Relief Society was on forgiveness. “Of you it is required to forgive all men.” How much easier is it to forgive someone we love than to forgive someone we don’t?
Anger and sadness in our hearts will not bring us eternal happiness. However, when we make up our minds to love others, especially when it is hard, we will find that happiness is easier to come by.
Loving those that love us is not what is at question here. Loving those that would wish us ill is much harder. But it is worth it.
I have seen many expressions of love, from offering a kind word to providing company to the lonely. I think the reason this ward is so close is the great sense of love we have for each other. I have seen members sacrifice so much for the fellow members they love. From loving those afar to loving our next door neighbor, love abounds among you. And let me say thank you. Love is the greatest service we can give to our brothers and sisters.
Though an act of love may seem small to you, you can never know the impact it may have on those in need. It may change their entire world.
Love of God means keeping his commandments. All of his commandments. When we love our neighbor, our self and our God, is it not easier to keep the promises we have made with him?
When you truly love your neighbor, you are making more of an effort to understand them. When you truly love your neighbor, can you hate them or covet what they have?
When we love our neighbor, it is harder to find fault with them. Difficult becomes a sense of pride or greatness above others. How can we be angry when we have such a sense of love within us towards them whom we might have felt anger towards? How can we disrespect anyone, their agency or their choices when we have such a strong sense of The Holy Ghost guiding our love?
I believe this commandment also applies to loving ourselves. This is something I struggle with greatly. When we have problems that involve only us and the Lord, love of our divine selves will help us get through almost anything. Love of self is understanding what the Lord sees in us and why we are important to him.
Brothers and sisters, if you only focus on bettering one part of yourself, I prompt you to seek out a better ability to love.