To love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength is all-consuming and all-encompassing. It is no lukewarm endeavor. It is total commitment of our very being – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually – to love of the Lord.
What is the greatest commandment? When the Sadduccee’s challenged Christ on the doctrine of resurrection, and he responded to their inquiry, the pharisee’s were present and discussed among themselves how to engage in challenging Jesus. The Pharisee’s maintained that one must fulfill all the Mosaic and Levitical laws of the Jewish heritage and religion. A lawyer approaches and posits this question: Of all the commandments God has given, which of them is the greatest commandment? The Savior responded simply:
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.
Matthew Henry’s commentary says this:
The love of God is the first and great commandment of all, and the summary of all the commands of the first table. The proper act of love being complacency, good is the proper object of it. Now God, being good infinitely, originally, and eternally, is to be loved in the first place, and nothing loved beside him, but what is loved for him. Love is the first and great thing that God demands from us, and therefore the first and great thing that we should devote to him.
In the Teachings of Presidents of the Church – Ezra Taft Benson, we read:
The breadth, depth, and height of this love of God extend into every facet of one’s life. Our desires, be they spiritual or temporal, should be rooted in a love of the Lord. Our thoughts and affections should be centered on the Lord. “Let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord,” said Alma, “yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever” (Alma 37:36)
Our mortal existence is based on our obedience to a Sovereign God. The greatest task of our life is to learn the will of the Lord and then do it. This is accomplished with our love and devotion to God, the Father. How we do this up to us. We all have an endowed moral agency. Either choosing to pursuit God and receive the inherit blessings in following and aligning our will to His, or choosing to reject Him and follow after our own passions and desires in this life.
1. Our love of God is an act of obedience to God
Placing God first and foremost in our lives – thou shalt have no other gods before me – all other things naturally falls into place. The apostle John writes: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” In order to understand the magnitude of how God, our Father, takes preeminance over everything in our lives, we come to understand:
God, our Father; Jesus … our Redeemer; and the Holy Ghost … are perfect. They know us best and love us most and will not leave one thing undone for our eternal welfare.
The greatest example we have is the Savior himself – “I do always those things that please [God]” (See, John 8:29). We read in scripture that Christ consistently conformed to the will of the Father and prayed to the Father. As we do this, our relationship with the Savior and with our Heavenly Father enriches, empowers, and strengthens us in our own faith. It is ever sustaining.
2. Abundant blessings from putting God first
The more we align our hearts, minds and souls to the will of God, conforming ourselves to the teachings and ordinances of the Gospel, blessings come upon us.
He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends and pour out peace. Whoever will lose his life in the service of God will find eternal life.
The reason for this is because God desires for each one of us to have a fulness of joy as He as. Who does not want to have a fulness of joy in their lives? Unfortunately, the adversary knows this intimately and works to move us away from this in order for us to experience misery. Commandments are not hardships or difficulties, they are protective guidelines that, when followed, open up doors of blessings upon our lives. In turn, we are able to reach out and bless those as well.
Sometimes, those blessings do not come instantly: One of the trials of life is that we do not usually receive immediately the full blessing for righteousness. Walking contrary to the will of God, diminishing the importance of God in our lives, we run the risk of submitting over to our own passions and desires that may take us away from the love and blessings of God:
The Book of Mormon teaches that the wicked “have joy in their works for a season, [but] by and by the end cometh, and they are hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence there is no return” (See, 3 Nephi 27:11)
In our lives, as we live in accordance to the principles of the Gospel, love God through our own act of obedience, we learn to rely on his promises, become patient and be assured of our own security in knowing God loves us.
A. W. Tozer wrote:
God is a Person, and in the deep of His mighty nature He thinks, wills, enjoys, feels, loves, desires and suffers as any other person may. In making Himself known to us He stays by the familiar pattern of personality. He communicates with us through the avenues of our minds, our wills and our emotions. The continuous and unembarrased interchange of love and thought between God and the soul of the redeemed man is the throbbing heart of New Testament religion (In Pursuit of God, p. 23).
This only happens as we learn to submit ourselves over to God, place Him first and foremost in our own lives, and commit to walking in obedience to the commandments that we are called to walk into. Harold B. Lee taught it this way:
We honor Heavenly Father by keeping the commandments. Now, regardless of our callings, we can best honor our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, by keeping the commandments that they have given us and by being modest in relation to our own status regardless of what our calling is. When we profess our love for God and His Son, Jesus Christ, or for their representatives here, it would be well to remember the sober test given to us by the Master Himself, who said, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me” (John 14:21).
The teaching of Loving God and walking in obedience to God is our heritage. It is scriptural. Christ himself taught that we show our love to God by obeying God. The more we love God, the more we are willing to walk in humble obedience to His will and desire. And, what is the ultimate desire of God? To bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (See, Moses 1:39)