Love and Serve Others to Honor Covenants with God, Sister Oscarson Says
Contributed By Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News associate editor
- Covenants are an exchange of love between God and us.
- Covenants associated with baptism and the temple are evidence of God's love for His children.
- We honor our covenants with God when we love and serve others.
“Think of it. God invites us to come out of our worldly sphere and to enter His sphere through covenants. We are invited to join Him, to partner with Him in our salvation and in the salvation of all of His children.” —Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women general president
Covenants bind Latter-day Saints to their Heavenly Father, said Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women general president.
“Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, live and direct the work of this Church,” said Sister Oscarson on April 30. “They love us with a love that is beyond our ability to comprehend. The covenants they ask us to make and keep at baptism, when we partake of the sacrament, and in our sacred temples are evidence that they want to be intimately involved in our lives and they want to help us return to Their presence.”
Speaking during the 2015 BYU Women’s Conference, Sister Oscarson called covenants “an exchange of love between God and us.”
“Our Father loves His children; we are central to His work; He is aware of the intimate details of our lives and stands ever ready and anxious to bless us with every possible good thing He can,” said Sister Oscarson. “This is especially true as we make every effort possible to honor our covenants with Him.”
Some 15,000 women gathered in the BYU Marriott Center for the conference—an annual event cosponsored by BYU and the Relief Society during which dozens of presenters focused on the theme “My soul delighteth in the covenants of the Lord” (2 Nephi 11:5).
Sister Oscarson defined covenants as agreements between God and man—where God sets the terms.
“God asks us to enter into these binding agreements, these covenants, with Him because He loves us and He knows that binding us to Him, essentially making God our partner in this life, is the only possible way that we have a hope of returning to Him and receiving exaltation in His kingdom,” she explained.
Sister Oscarson said God accomplishes His work through covenants. “Think of it. God invites us to come out of our worldly sphere and to enter His sphere through covenants. We are invited to join Him, to partner with Him in our salvation and in the salvation of all of His children.”
The covenants God offers begin when Church members are still children, she said. “He understands the importance of setting us on the covenant path as soon as we are ready to understand the importance and value of keeping the commandments. When we are baptized we enter into a covenant relationship with God. We become His covenant children.”
It is no small thing that baptism is the only ordinance that, with its associated covenant, Latter-day Saints are invited to participate in and renew every single week for the rest of their lives through the ordinance of the sacrament. “Because Heavenly Father loves us, He provides a way for us to remember, renew, and recommit to the covenants we make at baptism, weekly,” Sister Oscarson said. “It is that important.”
Temples are another of the great evidences of the love God has for His children, “because it is there that we make the most sacred and binding covenants with Him.”
The Lord has provided a sacred and hallowed place where His children can be taught from on high, sanctified, and endowed with power, she said.
A loving parent takes the time to give a child instructions and tools for meeting the challenges of life, she said. “The temple is the place where we are able to receive loving instruction, help, and guidance from a concerned Father, and every aspect of the temple is evidence of His love for His children.”
Another way in which the temple and its associated covenants symbolize the love of Heavenly Father is that the temple provides a way for all of His children to return to Him, including those people who lived on the earth before the gospel and essential priesthood ordinances were restored, she said.
“Do you know of any other religion in the world which offers the saving ordinances of the gospel for those millions of people who lived and died on this earth without the possibility of receiving them?” Sister Oscarson asked. “We are truly unique in this belief, which teaches us how precious and dear each and every individual is to our Father, no matter when or where they lived on the earth.”
Sister Oscarson said the Lord does not forget any of His children. “The ordinances and covenants of the temple are for everyone—both the living and the dead. What love and mercy are evident in this work!”
As Sister Oscarson continued, she asked Latter-day Saint women how they show their love for God through covenants.
“We show our love for God by keeping His commandments and honoring our covenants, and, in return, He shows an increase of love for us,” she said. “Loving the Lord is the answer. Love is the greatest and purest motivation I can think of for honoring our covenants.”
Sister Oscarson said women are unusually good at sacrificing for others—their friends, their husbands, their parents, and especially their children.
“Every little act of service, every small sacrifice made, each and every effort made to care for, love, and protect a child, wraps another thread of love around your heart and soul until before you know it, you and that child are bound together—not with threads, but with steel bands of incredible strength,” she said.
If a person wants to increase his or her love for someone, whether it is an enemy or a friend, the answer is to serve them, she said. “The same is true when it concerns our relationship with the Lord. The more we serve Him through our service to others and in Church callings, the more love we have for Him. As our love for the Lord increases, our desire to please Him through our obedience increases.”
Concluding, Sister Oscarson said love of the Lord and gratitude for all that He has done is the greatest reason to keep covenants. “He gave His Only Begotten Son so that we might have hope for exaltation. May we commit to keep our covenants generously and with love.”