In the twenty-second chapter of Matthew, beginning at verse 34, we read of a Pharisee, who was a lawyer by trade, who asks the Savior a question, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” The Savior answers 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 neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Matthew 22:34-40).
Demonstrating our true love for God and for others involves more than just casual lip service. It involves some sort of action on our part. First, if we love God and our neighbors we would treat them as we would want to be treated. Consider the words of the Lord to Moses as recorded in the nineteenth chapter of the book of Leviticus:
Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the Lord. Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. 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 19:16-18).
In the book of Deuteronomy we read the words of Moses to his people,
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up (Deuteronomy 6:5-7).
The Savior Himself taught us, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). For “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (1 John 4:20). Therefore, if we profess to love God, we will love our brother also (1 John 4:21).
One way that we demonstrate our true love for God and our neighbors is through the service that we render to others. That service can be for a family member, a Church member, a friend, or a total stranger.
I have had the opportunity in past weeks to spend a few days with my brother-in-law in Manassas, Virginia. As I spent time with him it was evident to me that he truly loves his wife, my sister who is in a skilled nursing home, and he proves his love for her not only with words, but he demonstrates his true love for her through the daily care that he gives her.
A typical daily routine for him goes something like this: he gets up every morning around 6:00 AM and gets ready to go to work which is an hour away from his house. He works 10 to 12 hours a day, often not returning home until 7:30 or 8:00 PM at night. When he gets home he fixes dinner for himself and his 14 year old son, takes care of a few odds and ends, and then prepares to go to the nursing home to spend time with his wife and attend to her needs, regardless of what those needs may involve. Oftentimes he does not return home until 11:30 PM or later. When he arrives home he normally takes care of washing any of my sister’s laundry that he had collected while at the nursing home, waits for the laundry to dry, packs the now clean laundry into the tote bag to take back to the nursing home the next day, climbs into bed around 1:00 AM, and gets back up the next morning at 6:00 AM to start the cycle all over again. This has been his daily routine for almost 4 years. In addition to all of that, he still has to maintain his home, do the grocery shopping, pay the bills, and spend time helping his son with homework and participating in his activities.
Does he do all of this to prove that he is some sort of superman or superhero or to gain recognition or pity from others? No, he does all of this because he realizes that God has blessed him with a loving wife and he shows his appreciation and his love for both God and his wife by putting that love into action through his acts of loving service.
Speaking on the subject of service, our beloved Prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, has said,
As we look heavenward, we inevitably learn of our responsibility to reach outward. To find real happiness, we must seek for it in a focus outside ourselves. No one has learned the meaning of living until he has surrendered his ego to the service of his fellow man. Service to others is akin to duty, the fulfillment of which brings true joy. We do not live alone—in our city, our nation, or our world. There is no dividing line between our prosperity and our neighbor’s wretchedness. ‘Love thy neighbor’ is more than a divine truth. It is a pattern for perfection (Thomas S. Monson, “The Joy of Service,” New Era, October 2009, 4).
We also demonstrate our love for our Heavenly Father by how well we serve Him. May I offer a little food for thought? Do we simply come to Church on Sunday to always expect to receive a blessing, or do we come with the heart’s desire and intent of being a blessing to others? Do we honestly strive to magnify our callings, or do we merely go through the motions hoping for the day when we are finally released and no longer have to deal with it? Is our religion just a Sunday religion, or is it our way of life?
President Thomas S. Monson has taught us,
Each of us has opportunities for Church assignments. This opportunity of serving in the Church enables us to demonstrate a love of God and a love of our neighbor. It was King Benjamin who said: “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” There is no finer way to demonstrate love of God than by serving Him in the positions to which we may be called. Occasionally, the reward for that service will be prompt, and we’ll see the light in the eyes of the person whom we have helped. Other times, however, the Lord will let us wait a little while and let our reward come another way. Many are in the process of helping less-active people. It is important never to give up, but forever press on in our efforts to help them. The best way to help people to become fully active in the Church is to love them into that activity”. (Thomas S. Monson; “How Do We Show Our Love?”; Ensign, January 1998)
President Monson has also taught, “As we love our God, as we love our neighbor, we can be the recipients of our Heavenly Father’s love [and] we discover that our Heavenly Father will answer the prayers of others through our ministry” (Thomas S. Monson; “How Do We Show Our Love?”; Ensign, January 1998).
As we travel down the pathways of life we come to realize that we are not lone travelers. There are others who also travel down those same pathways. They are people who need our help, and most of all, they need our love. There are feet to steady, hands to hold, minds to encourage, and hearts to inspire. Everyone that we meet along life’s pathways is a precious soul of worth. We demonstrate our love for our Heavenly Father by loving and caring for each of them. By loving God and by loving our neighbor, we fulfill the two great commandments. And as the Savior has taught us, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets”. I leave these thoughts with you humbly in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.
Keith Lionel Brown is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was baptized on 10 March 1998 in Reykjavik, Iceland while serving on active duty in the United States Navy in Keflavic, Iceland. He is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of “Morsels Of Bread.”