Loving your neighbor ‘is a choice,’ says Bishop Budge to MTC missionaries

“The best way to love yourself is to keep the commandments,” said Bishop Budge, the second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric

PROVO, Utah — Love has less to do with emotions than one might think, said Bishop L. Todd Budge.

“It’s something that you do,” he said. “It’s more than something that you feel. You can love someone even when you don’t feel love for them. It’s a choice. Love is a choice.”

According to Bishop Budge, second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, love and charity require action. Saints develop Christlike love as they give of themselves and serve others — especially those they have a hard time liking.

“Any time you do anything for anyone to help them come closer to Christ,” said Bishop Budge, “that is an act of love. That’s a choice that you make.”

Bishop Budge addressed missionaries at the Provo Missionary Training Center on Tuesday, Feb. 7. His wife, Sister Lori Budge, gave brief remarks as well. Their messages centered around loving others, sharing the Savior’s light and inviting others to repent.

Bishop Budge wearing a suit and tie and shaking someone’s hand in a crowd of people.
Presiding Bishopric Second Counselor L. Todd Budge shakes hands after the MTC devotional Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023, in Provo, Utah.  | Mark Lineback

Loving God, neighbors and self

The two great commandments, as found in Matthew 22:36-40, are to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart” and “love thy neighbour as thyself.”

“God wants us to love Him, to love our neighbor and to love ourselves,” said Bishop Budge.

To explain how people can show God their love, Bishop Budge read Doctrine and Covenants 42:29. “If thou lovest me thou shalt serve me and keep all my commandments.” Loving God requires both serving Him and keeping His commandments.

In addition to giving of themselves and serving their neighbors, Saints can keep the second great commandment by loving others as God loves them, he said. “He wants us to have this perfect circle of love and not to exclude anyone from the circle.”

After loving God and neighbors comes loving oneself: “The best way to love yourself,” said Bishop Budge, “is to keep the commandments.”

And how does Heavenly Father love His children? God loves them so much, said Bishop Budge, that He gave them two important manifestations of His love:

“He gave us commandments. Have you ever thought of that? God loves us so much that He gives us commandments because he knows that if we follow them, we’ll be happy. And he gave us His Son, Jesus Christ, His Only Begotten Son, because of His love for us.” 

Bishop Budge wearing a tie and suit coat while speaking from a pulpit.
Presiding Bishopric Second Counselor L. Todd Budge teaches missionaries about the two great commandments at an MTC devotional Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023, in Provo, Utah. | Mark Lineback

Sharing the Light of Christ

One night, Bishop Budge stood on the deck of a cabin and admired how bright and beautiful the moon was.

“But the moon,” he shared, “is just reflecting the light of the sun. Just like missionaries, right? You’re bright, but it’s not your light. It’s reflected light. It’s the light of the Son of God that’s shining through you.”

He extended Christ’s invitation in 3 Nephi 18:24 to “hold up your light that it may shine unto the world.”

Bishop Budge told the MTC missionaries that people will come to know Christ through them, God’s witnesses and servants.

“The more you keep the commandments, and the more that you love, the brighter the light will shine. ... And there’s no greater joy than to be an instrument in the hands of God, to help someone else come to know the Savior.”

It’s one of the most joyous things, he said, that missionaries will ever do in their lives.

Bishop Budge in a suit, smiling and talking with missionaries wearing suits.
Presiding Bishopric Second Counselor L. Todd Budge talks with missionaries after the MTC devotional Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023, in Provo, Utah. | Mark Lineback

Inviting others to do good

The devil “inviteth and enticeth to sin,” as mentioned in Moroni 7:12. Bishop Budge told the congregation of missionaries that Satan is continually inviting and enticing those they teach not to make changes through repentance. But “that which is of God,” he shared from the next verse, “inviteth and enticeth to do good continually.”

“The missionary which is of God ‘inviteth and enticeth’ you to do good,” Bishop Budge said. “As you open your mouth and extend invitations, God will inspire you to know what that person needs to take the next step.”

He shared four ways given in “Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service” that missionaries can extend Spirit-led invitations: Ask direct questions, promise people blessings, bear testimony frequently and follow up.

Missionaries who follow these four steps, he promised, will see amazing miracles.

Sister Lori Budge wearing a pink blouse and speaking from a pulpit.
Sister Lori Budge, wife of Presiding Bishopric Second Counselor L. Todd Budge, speaks during the Provo Missionary Training Center devotional Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023, in Provo, Utah. | Mark Lineback

A message worth sharing

A choir of missionaries began the devotional by singing “He Lives, He Lives,” a hymn composed by Sister Budge about the Savior’s triumph over death. After the hymn, she began her remarks with a quavering voice and testified of three precious miracles of the Atonement of Jesus Christ:

“The separation from our friends and loved ones who have passed on is not permanent. ...

“It also provides the way for us to be forgiven of our sins and provides a way for us to live with God.”

Forgiveness, help and strength are available through the Redeemer’s power and grace. Sister Budge encouraged those in attendance to better understand and appreciate on their missions the power of the Atonement — the “fantastic, astounding, glorious news.”

“He lives, and so will we,” she said. “That is one of the most beautiful messages that you as missionaries will have the privilege of sharing.”

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