His love for us

A teenager heard these words from her mother: "Look, I'm the mom. You're the daughter. Your father and I make the rules. Someday, when you're the mom, you can make the rules, but right now, we do. You may not like them, but we have to enforce them . . . for your own good and for the good of our family."

The message was not what the teenager wanted to hear, and perhaps she even thought the comments were harsh. From a teenager's perspective, rules may seem arbitrary, unnecessary and certainly restrictive. When we were young, we too may have reacted to our own parents' rules with disinterest, scorn or even rebellion. As we grew to maturity, hopefully, we began to understand that our parents' rules - though sometimes difficult to embrace wholeheartedly - were for our good. We now may realize that our parents were motivated by our personal safety and by their love for us.In much more important ways, the commandments given to us by our Heavenly Father are for our temporal and eternal good. From our mortal perspective, we may not understand all the commandments, which, at times, may seem restrictive. But our Heavenly Father is the loving Father of our spirits, and He knows each of us individually and personally. He also is fully aware of the consequences of obedience or disobedience to His eternal law. We can be absolutely sure that He desires only that which is for our good.

The Prophet Joseph Smith assured us, "As God has designed our happiness - and the happiness of all His creatures, He never has - He never will institute an ordinance or give a commandment to His people that is not calculated in its nature to promote that happiness which He has designed." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 256.)

Just as a teenager's perspective may be limited, so our ability to see with an eternal perspective may also be limited. To build our faith and test our commitment, God has drawn a veil between us and Him. He may not personally appear to us, but rather, we receive His word through His recorded revelations in scriptures and through His chosen servants. We also may receive counsel from our earthly parents, our patriarchal blessing and personal revelation. In all these ways, God manifests His love for us.

Eternal law dictates that "when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated" (D&C 130:21). When we live the Word of Wisdom, we are blessed both temporally and spiritually (D&C 89:18-21). When we obey the law of the fast, we reap the promised blessings of fasting (Isaiah 56:6-11). When we keep the Sabbath holy, we receive the blessing of doing so (D&C 59:12-19). When we live God's moral law, we become worthy to receive His blessings (Psalm 24:3-5).

President Harold B. Lee affirmed that knowledge is a blessing that comes from obedience. "All the principles and ordinances of the gospel are in a sense but invitations to learning the gospel by the practice of it teachings. . . . We learn the gospel by living it." (Stand Ye in Holy Places, p. 215.)

Jesus counseled His disciples: "If you love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). Obedience to God's laws reaffirms our love for our Father in Heaven.

God is anxious to bless His children with all that He has. He loves us so much that He wants us to live with Him eternally. He is not anxious to punish His unruly children or burden them with unnecessary commandments. Rather, He is a loving parent who wants His children to avoid the negative consequences of breaking eternal laws. He wants them to receive the promised blessings of complying with righteous principles.

In 1954, when President Spencer W. Kimball was a member of the Council of the Twelve, he said: "When men obey commands of a creator, it is not blind obedience. How different is the cowering of a subject to his totalitarian monarch and the dignified, willing obedience one gives to his God. The dictator is ambitious, selfish and he has ulterior motives. God's every command is righteous, every directive purposeful and all for the good of the governed. The first may be blind obedience, but the latter is certainly faith obedience." (Conference Report, Oct. 1954).

President Ezra Taft Benson counseled in 1975: "May we stay on the Lord's side of the line in all matters. And may our report to our Heavenly Father when we return to His celestial home be as follows: `Father, we are all here - father, mother, all of our posterity. Each chair is filled. We are all back home.' " (The Teachings of President Ezra Taft Benson, p. 344.)

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