"If ye love me, keep my commandments," taught the Savior hours before going to the garden. Throughout January we as a ward have prayed to be filled with love as we've studied our duty to our eternal family. Now, the opportunity is our's to prove that love by seeking after greater obedience while studying discipleship.
It's encouraging to me to remember the "why" behind everything we do. For instance, why ought we to keep the commandments? As I just mentioned in the previous paragraph, it certainly is to at least prove our love for Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ. But is that the only reason?
A few years ago Elder Spencer J. Condie gave a wonderful talk in General Conference wherein he taught us how to "Claim the Exceedingly Great and Precious Promises." These promises constitute secondary expressions of God's love for his children. He causes the sun to rise on the just and the unjust, provides a resurrected body to all of his children who kept their first estate, and loves all of his children with a love we can not understand. Indeed, as states our 2010 Stake Theme, the worth of souls is great in the sight of God, even before we choose to come unto Christ and put off the natural man.
But as was taught by Elder Oaks in the past General Conference in his talk entitled Love and Law, God's "choicest blessings are reserved for those who obey His laws." These blessings include, as taught by Elder Condie:
Quote) The Lord’s countless exceeding great and precious promises include forgiveness of our sins when we “confess them and forsake them” (D&C 58:43; see also D&C 1:32). Opening the windows of heaven is a promise claimed by those who pay a faithful tithe (see Malachi 3:10), and finding “great treasures of knowledge” accrues to those who observe the Word of Wisdom (D&C 89:19).
Becoming unspotted from the world is a promise to those who keep the Sabbath holy (see D&C 59:9; Exodus 31:13). Divine guidance and inspiration are promised to those who “feast upon the words of Christ” (2 Nephi 32:3) and who “liken all scriptures” unto themselves (1 Nephi 19:23).
The Lord also promised that “whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you” (3 Nephi 18:20). We are promised that the Holy Ghost will be our constant companion when we “let virtue garnish [our] thoughts unceasingly” (see D&C 121:45–46). We can claim the spiritually liberating promise of fasting, which will “loose the bands of wickedness,” undo our “heavy burdens,” and “break every yoke” (Isaiah 58:6).
Those who are sealed in holy temples and who faithfully keep their covenants will receive God’s glory, which “shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever” (D&C 132:19).
Sometimes, in our earthly impatience, we may lose sight of the Lord’s precious promises and disconnect our obedience from the fulfillment of these promises. The Lord has declared:
“Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled?
“I command and men obey not; I revoke and they receive not the blessing.
“Then they say in their hearts: This is not the work of the Lord, for his promises are not fulfilled. But wo unto such, for their reward lurketh beneath, and not from above” (D&C 58:31–33). (End quote)
Our reward can come "from above!" Obedience is not impossible! We can pray for help, and through the atonement we can improve daily to where, like Christ, we can eventually be perfectly obedient. Nephi knew and testified that "the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." (1 Nephi 3:7)
As you do that this month and for the rest of your life, I promise you that you will improve and receive the exceedingly great and precious promises extended to the obedient. For "how long can rolling waters remain impure? What power shall stay the heavens? As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge (and all other heavenly blessings) from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints." (D&C 121:33)
By our works we remain in that purifying stream, and by the Lord's grace the waters will always and continually flow. I love our Savior, and I know that he will perfect us in this way as we seek him this month.