Mormonism Answers: How Obedience Increases Spirituality

The Savior taught that the first and greatest commandment was to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matthew 22:37-38). Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, the second counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—sometimes inadvertently called the Mormon Church—explains:

What we love, seek, think and do determines who we are and who we becomeGod the Eternal Father did not give that first great commandment because He needs us to love Him. His power and glory are not diminished should we disregard, deny, or even defile His name. His influence and dominion extend through time and space independent of our acceptance, approval, or admiration.

No, God does not need us to love Him. But oh, how we need to love God! For what we love determines what we seek. What we seek determines what we think and do. What we think and do determines who we are—and who we will become. [1]

So how do we show our love to God? The Savior teaches, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Jesus Christ, in His earthly ministry, never sought the acclaim and accolades of the world. In fact, He was despised by the very people He came to help. In all that the Savior did and taught, it was for the benefit of others. To love God is to keep His commandments because it brings us happiness. And Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, seek only that—our eternal happiness and welfare.

What We Love Determines Who We Will Follow

Said another way, our desires determine our priorities. Our priorities determine our actions. Our actions determine our destiny. Elder M. Russell Ballard, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (with the First Presidency, the governing body of The Church of Jesus Christ), said:

His gospel is a gospel of love—love for God and love for one another. He directs us to follow his example. Our discipleship is measured by how well we comply. …Many people, I fear, never come to understand that the commandments of God are for our benefit and that as we sow, so shall we reap. [2]

If we love the Savior, then we will follow Him and the example that He set for us. We can see a pattern of this in our own children. The Psalmist said, “Children are an heritage of the Lord.” We are responsible for teaching our children the right path to follow. Our children love us with a pure love, and they want to be just like us. They absorb and follow everything we do—whether good or bad. Our Heavenly Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to show us the path that we should follow. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, an Apostle of The Lord Jesus Christ, explained:

It is the grand truth that in all that Jesus came to say and do, including and especially in His atoning suffering and sacrifice, He was showing us who and what God our Eternal Father is like, how completely devoted He is to His children in every age and nation. In word and in deed Jesus was trying to reveal and make personal to us the true nature of His Father, our Father in Heaven.

He did this at least in part because then and now all of us need to know God more fully in order to love Him more deeply and obey Him more completely. [3]

As we love and obey our Heavenly Father more completely, our desire to become like Him increases. Just as our children follow our example because they love us, we follow the example of our Savior because we love Him and our Heavenly Father. Our children want to make us happy and want us to be proud of them, and we feel the same about our Father in Heaven. We are happiest when we know we are right with God.

Who We Follow Determines Who We Will Become

When we follow the example of a living parent, we do so with our physical faculties. But to know and follow the example of our Heavenly Father, we must do so with our spiritual faculties. Elder Uchtdorf explains:

Since “God is love,”  the closer we approach Him, the more profoundly we experience love.  But because a veil separates this mortality from our heavenly home, we must seek in the Spirit that which is imperceptible to mortal eyes. [1]

We must become in tune with the things of the Spirit. As we seek to know our Heavenly Father, we must do so with our spirits the refined part of our souls housed in our physical bodies. That is how the Holy Spirit speaks to us, through our spirits. Elder Uchtdorf said:

We increase our love for our Heavenly Father and demonstrate that love by aligning our thoughts and actions with God’s word. His pure love directs and encourages us to become more pure and holy. It inspires us to walk in righteousness—not out of fear or obligation but out of an earnest desire to become even more like Him because we love Him. [1]

We cannot know that which we do not follow. If a person wants to be a scientist, he cannot do so by studying Shakespeare. He must study science. So it is with things of God. We cannot come to know the things of God by studying the wickedness of the world. We must study the example that the Savior set for us. This we do by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We also follow the teachings of prophets—both ancient and modern. Thus, as we increase our obedience, we increase our spirituality, or the ability of our spirits to discern the teachings of God. The true test of mortality, or our life here on earth, is not how much money we earn or the honors of men we receive. The true test is our willingness to seek out and know our Father in Heaven and do His will—even though we can’t see Him with our earthly eyes or hear Him with our earthly ears.

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