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Aspects of Love - my talk for Sacrament meeting December 28, 2014

One of the greatest rewards of surviving the sleepless nights of night feedings, the sleepless night of worry, the sleepless nights of “talkative” teens, and the sleepless nights of wondering how to pay for that mission, wedding or college is the joy of being a grandparent.

I love making faces at little Freya and getting her to grin ear to ear at me.  But those grins are nothing compared to the grins she gives when her dad, Ray, walks up behind me.

What makes him so special?  How does she know that she loves him more this beautiful Granny face?  Come on!  His fuzzy!  And I was talking to her first!

Because he loved her first... and she knows it.

Love is an interesting and often misunderstood concept.

A song tells us that “love is a many-splendored thing” or “all you need is love.” In a humorous way love has been referred to as a supersaturated solution of sentimental slush. It has also been described as an insane desire to squeeze orange juice out of a lemon. Throughout the centuries poems and plays have been written, songs have been sung, mountains have been climbed, and battles have been fought because of love.
We all need love just as we need vitamin C and whole grain cereal.
We all yearn to experience love. Even when we make mistakes, we hope others will love us in spite of our shortcomings—even if we don’t deserve it.
How marvelous it is to know that our Heavenly Father loves me—even with all my flaws! His love is such that even should we give up on ourselves, He never will.
Our endless search for love leads us down many paths, seeking a “love language” when all we need to do is look to the author and to learn the original “love language” – the pure love of God. 
We will love him “because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

“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 22:37-40).

President Dieter F Uchtdorf taught in his conference address in 2009 that “God the Eternal Father did not give that first great commandment because He needs us to love Him. His power and glory are not diminished should we disregard, deny, or even defile His name. His influence and dominion extend through time and space independent of our acceptance, approval, or admiration.

No, God does not need us to love Him. But oh, how we need to love God!

For what we love determines what we seek.

What we seek determines what we think and do.

What we think and do determines who we are—and who we will become.

Now, for us, the measure of our love is the measure of the greatness of our souls.” – end quote (The Love of God, October 2009)

In fact, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin taught, “Nothing you do makes much of a difference if you do not have charity. You can speak with tongues, have the gift of prophecy, understand all mysteries, and possess all knowledge; even if you have the faith to move mountains, without charity it won’t profit you at all. (1Corinthians 13:1-2).

“Charity is the pure love of Christ.” (Moroni 7:47) The Savior exemplified that love and taught it even as He was tormented by those who despised and hated Him.” – end quote. (The Great Commandment, October 2007)

Love one another; as I have loved you” (John 13:34).

President Thomas S. Monson is a fantastic example of  how small acts of love, kindness, and forgiveness can make a big difference in others' lives. He taught, “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…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.” 

As we reach out in love to those around us, we fulfill the other half of the great commandment to “love thy neighbour as thyself.” (D&C 121:43).

Both commandments are necessary, for as we bear one another’s burdens, we fulfill the law of Christ.   - end quote. (Love - the Essence of the Gospel, April 2014)

It makes me think... A person who says, “I love dogs,” but who doesn’t feed his own dog, is not giving love to that dog. Loving is caring.

"Love is the beginning, the middle, and the end of the pathway of discipleship. It comforts, counsels, cures, and consoles," taught Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin. "It leads us through valleys of darkness and through the veil of death. In the end love leads us to the glory and grandeur of eternal life. Pure love lasts forever. It is eternally patient and forgiving. It believes, hopes, and endures all things. That is the love our Heavenly Father bears for us.”

I came up with the following list:

A loving person respects other persons. A part of respecting people is not to force them. We may try to persuade a person to see our point of view, or we may try to convince them to do something we would like them to do, but if we really love them, we do not force them.

A loving person responds to others. Loving is empathizing, trying to understand how the other person feels and letting him know that we understand.

A loving person has concern for the welfare, progress, and happiness of the loved one. He not only has concern; he does something about it by making his resources available to the loved one.

Loving is giving. It is the giving of material things to others, but even more important, it is the giving of one’s time.

Loving is giving, but what about a person who becomes upset because the gift he receives is not as fine and luxurious as the gift he has given? This person has a bargaining approach to giving. A true gift of love is one that is given with no strings attached; it is given with no concern about what will be received in return.

An important dimension of loving is that the loving person also makes a conscious effort to receive. He is willing to receive not only physical gifts but also suggestions, advice, and acts of kindness.

Loving is sharing. Have you ever seen a rainbow or a beautiful sunset when you were alone and thought, “Wouldn’t it be lovely to share this with someone?” Or have you ever been alone during a time of illness or trouble and thought, “Wouldn’t it be consoling to have someone here to share this experience”?

Loving is forgiving. A loving person forgives one who has wronged him, and he also forgives himself for mistakes he has made. Guilt feelings can have some value in motivating a person to stop whatever it is that is causing him to feel guilty. To keep the guilt feelings beyond this point only interferes with a person’s effective living and happiness. It is a mistake for one not to forgive himself for something he has done that he considers to be wrong.

When Paul tells us what charity is in the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, he is really explaining what love is. A loving person suffers long and is kind. His love is of long duration; he envies not. He is not puffed up. Arrogance, boastfulness, and conceit are not his ways; he is humble. A loving person does not behave himself unseemly; he thinks no evil; he bears all things; he endures all things; and he is not easily provoked to anger. A loving person does not hold a grudge against others; he realizes that to do so is to bring more harm to himself than to them.
Love takes practice.  It starts in the family.  Little Freya has begun her practice of love.  As we get older our practice of love extends beyond the walls of our homes to our friends, our neighbors and even to warring nations across the world. As we practice we become more like God.  As we practice our love for God increases.
Although our circle of love grows as we age and practice, the principles of love do not change.  The principles of love, demonstrated by our Savior, remain the same, whether we are loving family members, friends, enemies or God.
A post on Facebook from Angie Milburn pointed out some of the these principles of love in practice perfectly.  Think about these principles of love in practice apply to our family relationships; our dealings with friends and neighbors; our dealings with all of mankind. Think about how the Savior demonstrated each of these principles.
1. Listen without interrupting (Proverbs 18)
2. Speak without accusing (James 1:9)
3. Give without sparing (Proverbs 21:26)
4. Pray without ceasing (Colossians 1:9)
5. Answer without arguing (Proverbs 17:1)
6. Share without pretending (Ephesians 4:15)
7. Enjoy without complaint (Philppians 2:14)
8. Trust without wavering (Corinthians 13:7)
9. Prove without punishing (Colossians 3:13)
10. Promise without forgetting (Proverbs 13:17)
“If ye love me, keep my commandments.”

Do you love the Lord?
Elder Wirthlin shows us a few ways to show love: "Spend time with Him. Meditate on His words. Take His yoke upon you. Seek to understand and obey, because “this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.”(1John 5:3) When we love the Lord, obedience ceases to be a burden. Obedience becomes a delight. When we love the Lord, we seek less for things that benefit us and turn our hearts toward things that will bless and uplift others.
As our love for the Lord deepens, our minds and hearts become purified. We experience a “mighty change in … our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.” (Mosiah 5:2)– end quote

If we wish to learn truly how to love, all we need to do is reflect on the life of our Savior. When we partake of the sacramental emblems, we are reminded of the greatest example of love in all the world’s history. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.” (John 3:16)

The Savior’s love for us was so great that it caused “even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore.” (D&C 19:18)

Because the Savior laid down His life for us, we have a brightness of hope, a confidence and security that when we pass from this worldly existence, we will live again with Him. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can be cleansed of sin and stand as partakers of the gift of our Almighty Father. Then we will know the glory that God “hath prepared for them that love him.” (Wirthlin)

This is the transforming power of charity... of love.
Further, President Uchtdorf taught, "Because love is the great commandment, it ought to be at the center of all and everything we do in our own family, in our Church callings, and in our livelihood. Love is the healing balm that repairs rifts in personal and family relationships. It is the bond that unites families, communities, and nations. Love is the power that initiates friendship, tolerance, civility, and respect. It is the source that overcomes divisiveness and hate. Love is the fire that warms our lives with unparalleled joy and divine hope. Love should be our walk and our talk.

When we truly understand what it means to love as Jesus Christ loves us, the confusion clears and our priorities align.

The divine love of God turns ordinary acts into extraordinary service. Divine love is the motive that transports simple words into sacred scripture. Divine love is the factor that transforms reluctant compliance with God’s commandments into blessed dedication and consecration.

Love is the guiding light that illuminates the disciple’s path and fills our daily walk with life, meaning, and wonder.

Love is the measure of our faith, the inspiration for our obedience, and the true altitude of our discipleship.

Love is the way of the disciple."

Love is the power that makes the world go round.

Love is the power that heals heart and mends fences.

Love is the power that created this world we live in.

Love is the power that brought us the great Atonement.

Love is God.

In the words of song from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Aspects of Love, I am reminded not only of how the Lord loves me but of the power that love can have in making lives better: 

Love, love changes everything
Hands and faces, earth and sky
Love, love changes everything
How you live and how you die

Yes, love, love changes everything
Now I tremble at your name (the name of Christ)
Nothing in the world will ever
Be the same

When we increase our love for God through practice “nothing in the world will ever be the same."


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