When I was a kid I did all that I could to make my parents happy… because I loved them. There was no need for swats or grounding or any other serious discipline. I couldn’t stand to disappoint them.
Jesus expressed his desire for this as he taught his disciples to love him.
If ye love me, keep my commandments.
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. (John 14:15, 21)
If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you. (John 15:10, 14)
These verses help me to understand that in the scriptures, love of Christ is tied very closely to obedience to him. For example, consider the following teaching from Jesus about the greatest commandments.
Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
Jesus said unto 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. (Matthew 22:36-39)
Thus, in the context of the scriptures the greatest commandment is to love God by keeping his commandments.
This principle of love through obedience was taught by Jesus in his great Sermon on the Mount. He taught that not everyone who believed in him and confessed him would enter the kingdom of heaven. Only those who kept the commandments of God would enter the kingdom.
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father, which is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)
That verse is significant: but he that doeth the will of my Father. After all, people can accept Jesus as the Christ and even do many wonderful works, as Jesus went on to explain in verses 22 and 23, but the Savior will not accept them.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:22-23)
In the ultimate sense obedience is an issue of the heart, of purpose, and motive. The apostle Paul stated that the whole law can be summed up in the word "love" (Rom. 13:10). It really does extend to my thoughts, emotions, and actions. When my attitude of my heart is founded on God's love, then the fruit that is produced will be good and pleasing to God. It’s all in the heart.
Our life should be characterized by obedience and love that motivates. My goals in health would be more successful with obedience and love as the motivator. My kids would be happier if they were motivated to obey if they had “love” that motives. (Maybe the trick to getting them to do the right thing is to get them to love me, and more importantly God, to the point of motivating).
Obedience does not merit salvation, of course. But genuine conversion to Christ inevitably produces obedience because of love. Obedience is never a condition for salvation, it is nonetheless always salvation's fruit.
It is important to the Savior is that we change our lives through repentance and living the commandments of God. The commandments are our recipe for happy lives. Our obedience, however, does not save us nor remove our sins; Christ’s blood does that. In providing the Atonement, Jesus requires that we obey his commandments before he will allow his blood to cleanse our souls. We may not be able to perfectly keep all of God’s commandments. That is ok… or we could drive ourselves to depression. LOL. Thankfully, God truly requires us to do our best and then allow the Savior’s atonement to cover what we cannot do for ourselves.
For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. (2 Nephi 25:23, emphasis added)
During some days, our “best” is a lot, while at other times it is not much. This is normal. Life is full of “ups” and “downs”. The important thing is that we are on an upwards trend, that over time, the “ups” occur more often and last longer, while the “downs” diminish.
Now to develop the kind of “love” that motivates.
King Benjamin’s powerful discourse so moved the people that they desired to obey all of God’s commandments.
And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.
And we, ourselves, also, through the infinite goodness of God, and the manifestations of his Spirit, have great views of that which is to come; and were it expedient, we could prophesy of all things.
And it is the faith which we have had on the things which our king has spoken unto us that has brought us to this great knowledge, whereby we do rejoice with such exceedingly great joy.
And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days, that we may not bring upon ourselves a never-ending torment, as has been spoken by the angel, that we may not drink out of the cup of the wrath of God. (Mosiah 5:2-5, emphasis added)
King Benjamin’s people wanted to obey God because they were converted to Christ. All people who are converted must repent and change their lives to be like the Savior.
So the trick to getting my kids to choose the right is truly turning their hearts to God with love. The trick to gaining success in releasing my weight is truly turning my heart to God with real love and maybe even seeing me as He sees me.