Area Presidency Message
What Does it Mean to Love God with All Your Heart?
The answer is perfectly simple, and simply perfect. Jesus Christ taught: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
What does it mean to love something or someone with all your heart?
Many years ago, I saw the meaning of love in a couple, Keith and Geneva, who demonstrated their love for each other for over 56 years of marriage. Marriage can bring many joys. In the deeply personal covenants of marriage, it can also provide a rich opportunity to provide support for each partner during times of illness or trial. For Keith and Geneva, their love for each other was tested after 27 years of marriage and six children.
At age 52, Geneva was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative nerve disease that took away Geneva’s ability to run, to dance, and eventually even to walk or stand. A talented sculptor and artist, she lost the ability to use her hands to sculpt. Due to the debilitating nature of the disease, the divorce rate is high among couples where one of the partners is diagnosed with MS. Geneva valiantly battled the disease for 29 years. One of the reasons Geneva was able to meet the illness with such courage was the constant, devoted care of her husband, Keith. Keith cherished his dear wife. He loved her with all his heart. He made changes in their home to make things easier for Geneva. He adjusted his own schedule to meet her needs. He stood by her during all her medical appointments and treatments. He lifted her literally and figuratively as the disease progressed in her body. He lived to make her life a joyful experience, regardless of the progression of the disease.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines love as “unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another.”1
As we love someone else with all our hearts, we make them a priority in our lives. We give them our time, energy, talent, and resources.
Jesus Christ taught this eternal truth:
“This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
“Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” (John 15:12–14)
Christ indeed showed His love for each of us by laying down His life for His friends. But He also showed His love for us by how He lived for us. He gave His time to learn each of our individual strengths and weaknesses, our successes and our sins. As a master teacher, He gave us His words and His teachings to guide us in the ways of truth and righteousness to help guide us every day if we follow Him. In His great atoning sacrifice, He willingly gave up His mortal life so that we could one day be resurrected and enjoy immortality. He also took upon Himself our sins and our pains and our afflictions (See Alma 7:11–14), with a promise that we can be clean before God on conditions of repentance.
Jesus Christ died for us, and He lived for us. He truly loves us.
In return, how do we show our love for Him, and for our Heavenly Father who sent His Beloved Son to save us from death and sin? We are not asked to die for Him, but we are asked to live for Him. How do we do that?
The answer is perfectly simple, and simply perfect. Jesus Christ taught: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
To love God with all of our hearts, we use our time, energy, talents and resources to keep His commandments.
I invite you to reflect on how you use your time, energy, talents and resources. Are you using your time to learn what God’s commandments are, so that you can keep them?
How do you spend your energy? While it is important to work and provide for your needs and for the needs of those you love, do you reserve enough energy to keep the commandments of God—to regularly attend Church on the Sabbath and to serve your fellow man? Are you using the talents and resources God has given you to keep His commandments, and to help others to do the same? As you consider all that God has done for you and the love He has shown you, I urge you to reflect upon how you are showing your love for Him in return.
As I watched the love between Keith and Geneva flourish and deepen over many years and many trials, I eagerly anticipate seeing the great joy they will experience as they have resurrected bodies and continue in their life and marriage together throughout eternity, free of physical disease and pain. They loved each other with all their hearts.
As each of us individually shows our love for God by using our time, energy, talents and resources to keep His commandments, I testify that we will become more like God. We will be comfortable in His presence. We will have great joy in our resurrected bodies. And through repentance, we, too, can enjoy eternal life, God’s life, a life filled with love. May we show we love God with all our hearts by keeping His commandments with all of our time, energy, talents and resources.
Matthew L. Carpenter was called as a General Authority Seventy in March 2018. He is married to Michelle (Shelly) Kay Brown; they are the parents of five children.