`PUT GOD IN THE FOREFRONT,' PRES. BENSON ADMONISHES
TO LOVE THE LORD REQUIRES A TOTAL COMMITMENT
LOVE THE LORD
TRUST IN HIS PROMISES
LEARN HIS WILLOpening the 158th Annual General Conference Saturday morning, April 2, President Ezra Taft Benson spoke of "The Great Commandment Love the Lord."
President Benson said, "The great test of life is obedience to God. The great task of life is to learn the will of the Lord and then do it. The great commandment of life is to love the Lord."
He then quoted Moroni's exhortation: "Come unto Christ . . . and love God with all your might, mind and strength." (Moro. 10:32.)
President Benson said that to love God "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 extends into every facet of one's life. Our desires, be they spiritual or temporal, should be rooted in a love of the Lord."
President Benson asked, "Why did God put the first commandment first? Because He knew that if we truly loved Him we would want to keep all of His other commandments. `For this is the love of God,' says John, `that we keep his commandments.' (1 John 5:3.)
"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.' (Ex. 20:3.)
"When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives," President Benson continued. "Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the other of our priorities. We should put God ahead of everyone else in our lives."
He said when Joseph in Egypt had to choose between God's commandments or seduction, he was more anxious to please God than to please his employer's wife. "When we are required to choose, are we more anxious to please God than our boss, our teacher, our neighbor, or our date?
"The Lord said, `He that loveth father or mother . . . son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.' (Matt. 10:37.) One of the most difficult tests of all is when you have to choose between pleasing God or pleasing someone you love or respect particularly a family member.
"Sometimes one must choose to honor a Heavenly Father over a mortal father. We should give God, the Father of our spirits, an exclusive pre-eminence in our lives. He has a prior parental claim on our eternal welfare, ahead of all other ties that may bind us here or hereafter."
He said many who join the Church despite objections by relatives later lead loved ones into the kingdom of God.
President Benson then spoke of the necessity of putting God first in the home. He admonished each father to have daily prayer and scripture reading in his home, to have family home evenings, to arrange for time with his wife and each child.
"And if your child went temporarily astray, do you think it would be pleasing unto the Lord and He would honor your efforts if you continued to live an exemplary life, consistently prayed and frequently fasted for that child, and kept the name of that son or daughter on the temple prayer roll?
"You mothers who are especially charged with the righteous rearing of the youth of Zion, are you not putting God first when you honor your divine calling by not leaving the homefront to follow the ways of the world? Our mothers put God first when they fill their highest mission within the walls of their own homes."
Children should pray for their parents, and support them in their endeavors, the Church president said.
He asked, "If someone wants to marry you outside the temple, whom will you strive to please God or mortal? . . . You should qualify for the temple. Then you will know that there is no one good enough for you to marry outside the temple. If such individuals are that good, they will get themselves in a condition so that they too can be married in the temple."
President Benson further said, "We bless our fellowmen the most when we put the first commandment first."
He quoted Joseph Smith, who said, "Whatever God requires is right.' President Benson said God required Nephi to kill Laban, and asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. "Had Abraham loved Isaac more than God, would he have consented?" asked President Benson.
He said, "The Book of Mormon teaches, `There must needs be that there is an opposition in all things' (2 Ne. 2:11) and so there is. Opposition requires choices, and choices bring consequences good or bad. . . .
"God loves us; the devil hates us. God wants us to have a fullness of joy as He has. The devil wants us to be miserable as he is. God gives us commandments to bless us. The devil would have us break all of these commandments to curse us.
"Daily, constantly, we choose by our desires, our thoughts, and our actions whether we want to be blessed or cursed, happy or miserable. One of the trials of life is that we do not usually receive immediately the full blessing of righteousness or the full cursing of wickedness. That it will come is certain, but ofttimes there is a waiting period that occurs, as was the case with Job and Joseph.
"In the meantime, the wicked think they are getting away with something. The Book of Mormon teaches that the wicked `have joy in their works for a season, but by and by the end cometh, and they are hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence there is no return.' " (3 Ne. 27:11.)
President Benson said the righteous must continue to love God, trust in His promises, be patient, and be assured that, as an anonymous poet said, "Who does God's work will get God's pay."
In concluding his address, President Benson said, "I testify to you that God's pay is the best pay that this world or any other world knows anything about. And it comes in full abundance only to those who love the Lord and put Him first."