“One may have many talents and knowledge but never acquire wisdom because he does not learn to be compassionate with his fellow man. We will never approach godliness until we learn to love and lift. Indifference to others and their plight denies us life’s sweetest moments of joy and service.
“When the Lord measures an individual, He does not take a tape measure around the person’s head to determine his mental capacity, nor his chest to determine his manliness, but He measures the heart as an indicator of the person’s capacity and potential to bless others.
“Why the heart? Because the heart is a synonym for one’s entire makeup. We often use phrases about the heart to describe the total person. Thus we describe people as being “big-hearted” or “goodhearted” or having a “heart of gold.” Or we speak of people with faint hearts, wise hearts, pure hearts, willing hearts, deceitful hearts, conniving hearts, courageous hearts, cold hearts, hearts of stone, or selfish hearts.
“The measure of our hearts is the measure of our total performance. As used by the Lord, the “heart” of a person describes his effort to better self, or others, or the conditions he confronts”. (Marvin J. Ashton, General Conference, October 1988)
“We need to be kinder with one another, more gentle and forgiving. We need to be slower to anger and more prompt to help. We need to extend the hand of friendship and resist the hand of retribution. In short, we need to love one another with the pure love of Christ, with genuine charity and compassion and, if necessary, shared suffering, for that is the way God loves us”. (President Howard W. Hunter, Excellent Way, 61)
This type of ultimate concern can be seen in the example of the young bishop who, against pressures and problems and at considerable inconvenience, traveled to another city to visit a bereaved widow on the eve of her husband’s funeral. The couple had long since moved from the bishop’s area, but he had made the effort to be with his good, wonderful old friends at this tender time. He found the elderly lady standing alone beside the body of her beloved of more than half a century. As he comforted her, she said through her tears, “Oh bishop, I knew you would come.” (Hanks, Gift of Self, 61; emphasis in original)
The bishop showed obedience to the principle that our love and caring for others is a measure of our love of God. In Matthew 25:40 we find confirmation of loving others and obedience: “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
Joseph Smith said, “Love is one of the chief characteristics of Deity. . . . A man [or woman] filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race” (HC 4:227; punctuation modernized).
As individuals we are concerned with achieving our full potential, the potential that God knows we have. Christ-like love is essential in achieving our potential. We need to view ourselves in an eternal perspective and see ourselves as our Father in Heaven sees us. We need to accept God’s love for us and be obedient. If we do this, we will understand and recognize our eternal worth.
There is a formula for learning to recognize this eternal worth: watching over and caring for one another, strengthening each other, serving one another, lifting up the hands and arms that hang down, and strengthening the feeble knees. The element that causes this formula to work is to bless individuals as the Savior did. This is only possible if we love unconditionally.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell stated, “Too often we behave as if we were in massive competition with others for God’s love. But we have His love, unconditionally and universally; it is our love of Him that remains to be proven, such as through service to others” (Even As I Am [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], 63).
As individuals we need to learn that we are more important than our mistakes and that we are worthwhile, valuable, and useful. Most important, we need to learn that our Father in Heaven loves us. All of life’s problems can be solved and turned into stepping-stones of progress if we love God with all our heart, might, mind, and strength and love ourselves and our neighbors.
We need to remember our Father in Heaven looks upon our hearts. It is important to remember we are His children and are products of His workmanship. Trust in God’s love for you with all your heart.
Elder Marion D. Hanks assured us that “we are [Heavenly Father’s] children, worthy of love, and we have in us the capacity to love. It is easier to love others when we have a healthy love for ourselves.” (Gift of Self, 282). The beautiful and tender hymn “I Am a Child of God” identifies our great worth.
Love cannot survive in a situation where contention exists. The following scripture is a guide to eliminating contention in our lives: “And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people” (4 Nephi 1:15). Contention causes the Spirit of God to leave, and it does not matter who is right or wrong. If individuals will humble themselves and eliminate pride from their lives, they will see that contention is replaced with love for the individuals with whom they associate.
When we eliminate contention, the Spirit of God will return, and we will see each other in a different light and through different eyes. Our lives will once again become an expression of our gratitude for our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ, which in turn will create a positive influence in the decisions we must make. President Howard W. Hunter said, “Those who are filled with the love of Christ do not seek to force others to do better; they inspire others to do better” (“Excellent Way,” 63). Again, contention will not remain if we follow the counsel found in 1 John 4:21: “And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”
Love is a manifestation from God and truly is the most gentle and powerful force in the world. We have been given the key to loving and respecting differences. We must obey our Father in Heaven’s commandments and look at everything and everyone through Christ-like eyes. We have been given the opportunity to share that powerful gift of God throughout the world through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
(BYU Devotional address 8 February 2000, Love–A Manifestation from God, by Earlene Durrant)