This year in Elder’s Quorum and Relief Society, we are studying a manual of teachings of the Prophet Ezra Taft Benson. While Benson is often criticized by those who disagree with his politics, when I read about his life and ministry I see a man called and inspired of God for his time. Just as Brigham Young was uniquely qualified to lead the saints to the west, Benson was uniquely qualified to serve as an Apostle and Prophet in the era of communism. I am grateful that Heavenly Father calls inspired men and gives them the insights and inspiration they need for our day.
I especially loved the lesson that we had today. It focused on Benson’s teachings regarding the First Great Commandment. Benson powerfully links this commandment to the Savior’s injunction to develop Charity. In our class, we spent a lot of time discussing Moroni 7 which is referenced in Benson’s teachings. Moroni speaks about charity as a gift from God that we get when we follow him with all of our heart. When we do so, we are transformed by the power of the Atonement.
That all consuming desire to serve God is powerfully summed by President Benson:
“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 a love of the Lord.
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).”
I love this focus. When we truly love God, that love will be a part of every facet of one’s life. We will not compartmentalize or think about our professional or social life as separate from our spiritual or religious life. This semester in law school I am taking a class on Professional Responsibility and we have spent the classes so far talking about how vital it is that disciples of Christ do not try to separate their moral convictions and values from their professional life.
Indeed, love of God must come first over everything including those we care about most.
“We must put God in the forefront of everything else in our lives. He must come first, just as He declares in the first of His Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).
When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities.
We should put God ahead of everyone else in our lives.”
This is a very difficult teaching at times. Benson speaks about countless examples of individuals who put God first including Joseph when he was in Egypt, and the Savior. He then talks about those converts who join the Church despite opposition from family and loved ones. As the only convert in my family, this resonated deeply with me. Joining the church was not easy, but it was absolutely the right choice. I have really seen everything else fall into its proper place or drop out of my life. While my family members do not always understand my decisions, I know that my membership in the church will ultimately also bless my family.
President Benson powerfully talks about the blessings that come to us when we learn to love God with all of our hearts.
“Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. 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.”
I bear witness that these blessings are true and that as we serve God we are blessed in abundance.