Sister Linda K. Burton Speaks at BYU Women’s Conference of the “Two Great Commandments”
Contributed By Rachel Sterzer, Church News staff writer
- What difference would putting Heavenly Father first make in my daily life?
- Would putting Him first help me keep my covenants with more exactness and more cheerfulness?
- Would putting Him first help me see His children through His eyes rather than through my own impaired mortal vision?
“Perhaps if we regularly remind ourselves that our loving Heavenly Father is just that, a loving Heavenly Father, we can view our mortal challenges as an opportunity to draw near to Him and for Him to draw near to us.” —Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society General President
Sister Linda K. Burton began her remarks Friday morning by sharing the experience of her eight-year-old granddaughter, Lizie, who was recently hospitalized for an infection in her femur. While awaiting surgery, Lizie “lay in agony, biting her lip and trying not to cry. But as soon as Lizie’s daddy entered the room, tears started rolling down her cheeks,” Sister Burton recalled.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if each of us—in that moment when we finally have the opportunity to see [Father in Heaven]—will similarly melt into tears as we run to be embraced in His loving arms, having endured the mortal challenges of this world as courageously as we could,” she said.
Sister Burton, Relief Society General President, spoke to more than 15,000 women gathered in the Marriott Center for the 40th Annual BYU Women’s Conference. Using the example of her granddaughter as a backdrop, Sister Burton focused her remarks on the “Two Great Commandments” found in Matthew 22:35–39 where a lawyer asks Jesus, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?”
Jesus responds, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
“What do we know about our Heavenly Father that can help increase our love for Him?” Sister Burton asked. “There are clues throughout the scriptures.”
Citing Doctrine and Covenants 121:41–42, 45, Sister Burton listed the attributes necessary for maintaining priesthood power and influence, including persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, love unfeigned, kindness, charity towards all men, and virtue. “Because Heavenly Father is the personification of priesthood power, we know these attributes are embodied in Him,” Sister Burton explained.
Righteous earthly fathers and husbands can act as types of Heavenly Father, Sister Burton said, and shared the example of her own “darling daddy.”
Sister Burton described her father as someone who exuded “kindness, gentleness, meekness, and love unfeigned” and who loved the Book of Mormon, followed the living prophets, and understood the importance of loving his wife and of worthily using the power of the priesthood to bless others.
“The older I get, the more I am convinced that parenthood is a key to understanding Heavenly Father’s love for us,” she said. “After all, what better way to learn the depth and breadth of His love for us than learning to love and sacrifice for the children He lends to us?”
In sharing the example of her husband, Craig, as a loving father and grandfather, Sister Burton noted that “perhaps if we regularly remind ourselves that our loving Heavenly Father is just that, a loving Heavenly Father, we can view our mortal challenges as an opportunity to draw near to Him and for Him to draw near to us.”
People wait in line at the Wilkinson Student Center for a class during BYU Women's Conference in Provo, Friday, April 29, 2016. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.
Sister Burton recalled visiting Tacloban two months after a devastating typhoon hit the Philippines and listening to Filipino children sing, “Heavenly Father, are you really there? And do you hear and answer every child’s prayer?”
The children did not sing with feelings of doubt or hopelessness, Sister Burton said, but “with hope and love and trust in Heavenly Father.” As she listened, Sister Burton said, she felt assured the answer to those lyrics was, “Yes! I do hear and answer every child’s prayer.”
For those who want to get to know and love their Heavenly Father, Sister Burton shared the counsel offered by President Spencer W. Kimball, who said, “I find that all I need to do to increase my love for my Maker and the gospel and the Church and my brethren is to read the scriptures.”
Sister Burton recalled accepting the invitation issued by her husband to the missionaries he presided over in the Korea Seoul West Mission to read the Book of Mormon and underline every reference to Jesus Christ—His words, attributes, names, titles, and doctrine.
In doing so, “I quickly came to realize that the Son was revealing to me the attributes of our Father, and I wanted to be more like Them. The more I knew of Them, the more I came to truly love Them,” she said.
Women walk up the steps to the Marriott Center during BYU Women's Conference in Provo, Friday, April 29, 2016. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.
Sister Burton told listeners that the purpose of Relief Society is to prepare women for the blessings of eternal life. “One way to do this is to increase our faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement. The more our faith in the Savior increases, the more we come to know and love our Heavenly Father.”
To those who struggle in determining priorities in everyday life, Sister Burton suggested asking themselves several questions, including, “What difference would putting Heavenly Father first make in my daily life?” or “Would putting Him first help me keep my covenants with more exactness and more cheerfulness?” or “Would putting Him first help me see His children through His eyes rather than through my own impaired mortal vision?”
Sister Burton promised that as individuals put Heavenly Father first in their lives, “we become one with Him in charity and can find ‘strength beyond [our] own’ (Hymns, no. 220) to serve His beloved children.”
Another way women can help fulfill the purpose of Relief Society, Sister Burton said, is to strengthen individuals and families through ordinances and covenants. “We have covenanted in the waters of baptism to always remember Him, meaning our Savior, Jesus Christ. Is there a better way to strengthen individuals and families than always remembering Him, doing the things He would do to help others?”
Sister Burton noted that she has been blessed by the Christlike actions of others and related several personal examples of those who “keep the second great commandment” to “love thy neighbour as thyself.”
Many have heeded the recent call to ask Heavenly Father how to help His children, including the 60 million refugees throughout the world, Sister Burton said. “Thank you for keeping the two great commandments—loving your neighbors to demonstrate your love for Heavenly Father.
“That is what Relief Society is all about,” Sister Burton said. “Our purpose is to help prepare women for the blessing of eternal life. One way we do this is by working in unity to help those in need. Working in unity with whom? With our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ, by following the promptings of the Holy Ghost to love our neighbors—our sisters and our brothers, His sons and His daughters—as ourselves.”