Commandments to Live By

O. Leslie Stone


It is an inspiration to all of us to remember the teachings of our Savior and the many wonderful things he gave to the world. He lived long before recorded history. He was in the great council in heaven—he helped his Father in the shaping of the heavens, in the creation of the earth, and in the making of man, the latter being in response to the request of the Father when he said: “Let us … form man in our own image, after our likeness” (Abr. 4:26).

In opposition to Satan’s plan of compulsion, it was He who supported the Father’s plan of free agency—thus providing the right of choice which means so much to all of us.

He lived on earth in the meridian of time in the promised land.

He was born far away from home and was cradled in a manger.

He went about teaching and doing good. Men followed him, not for worldly riches but to gain treasures in heaven.

He set up a new code for living—to love one another, even one’s enemies. He enjoined us to judge not, to forgive, and to give all men a second chance.

Think what a change this would make in the world today if we as individuals and the nations of the earth could live up to this code. We have often heard people say, “Well, I will forgive, but I won’t forget,” which, of course, means they do not forgive.

In Doctrine and Covenants 64:8–11 [D&C 64:8–11] the Lord tells us that it is our duty to forgive one another, and that he who does not forgive his brother stands condemned and is the greater sinner of the two.

In Matthew 22:36–39 [Matt. 22:36–39] we read about an instance where Christ was approached by some of the leading lawyers of the day, one of whom said:

“Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

“Jesus said unto him, 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.”

Can a man reach the celestial kingdom if he does not love his neighbor as himself? When Jesus gave the second commandment, he said it was like unto the first, and repeating both, he said:

“On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt. 22:40).

He made them very important—so important that all other laws and commandments rest upon them.

Let us ask another question. Can a man live the first and great commandment if he does not live the second? In other words, can he love God with all his heart if he does not love his fellow men? The answer is obvious.

John the Apostle said:

“If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

“And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also” (1 Jn. 4:20–21).

In 3 Nephi 11:29–30 [3 Ne. 11:29–30] we find this statement:

“For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.

“Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.”

With all of these statements, it should be perfectly clear to everyone that the Lord desires us to love and forgive one another. It behooves all of us to conquer our pride and make every effort to settle all differences with our fellowmen. As just quoted from 3 Nephi, contentions and disputations are of the devil and are not approved by our Heavenly Father. Loving our neighbors as ourselves will bring joy and happiness into our lives.

Christ lived to bless, heal, and restore. He was a peacemaker. On many occasions he healed the sick, the lame, and the blind. Yes, as we have been told earlier today, he even raised the dead.

After all these things, he was forced to carry his own cross to Calvary. He forgave those who would take his life. At the very time when he was suffering the most, he said:

“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

He died that we might have everlasting life. In John 11:25–26 it is recorded that he proclaimed: “I am the Resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

“And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”

He rose from the grave to triumph over death and to bless the world with resurrection.

The gospel provides us with a beautiful plan of salvation. We know that we come to earth to obtain a body, gain knowledge, and develop skills and character. We also come here so we can learn to overcome evil and see if we can remain true and faithful and be sufficiently diligent and obedient to the commandments so as to be worthy to return and abide in his presence.

Today, as I contemplate the many, many blessings that have been given to us, I recall the words of King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon when, after enumerating the blessings which had been poured down upon his people by the Lord, he said this:

“And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments” (Mosiah 2:22).

Yes, the only thing the Lord requires of us is that we keep his commandments! This sounds relatively simple, doesn’t it? But we all know that it isn’t simple nor was it intended to be. Where much is given, much is expected. The Lord requires of those who dwell with him the ability to overcome weaknesses and imperfections. He requires self-denial and self-discipline. No, it isn’t simple, but the Lord has given us many suggestions and instructions to help us keep his commandments.

Some of us may feel from time to time that some of his commandments are an impediment to happiness in this life, but this isn’t so; and deep down in our hearts we all know that so long as we adhere to these commandments, just as surely as night follows day, we will reap the blessings that are promised to the faithful. Remember, the Lord said:

“I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise” (D&C 82:10).

Sometimes the way of fulfillment may not be apparent to us, but the actuality of it is assured.

How many of us on Judgment Day would like to be told that we had failed to do our part—that we had been unworthy servants of the Lord because our own lives had been such a poor example? In Matt. 5:16 the Lord gives us a very important message:

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

To fail to keep the commandments of the Lord not only brings condemnation, but actually deprives us of many blessings here on this earth—to say nothing of those eternal blessings for which we are all striving. In 1 Cor. 2:9 we read this important statement: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (italics added).

And finally, the great promise given to all men:

“And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God” (D&C 14:7).

In closing, I would like to bear testimony that the Father and the Son did appear to Joseph Smith and gave him instructions pertaining to the restoration of the true gospel of Jesus Christ. I also testify that our leader today, President Spencer W. Kimball, and his counselors are true prophets of God. We would all do well to follow them in the path of truth and righteousness.

I pray that these brethren may be blessed with inspiration at all times. Further, that our Heavenly Father will grant them health and strength sufficient to carry out their heavy responsibilities. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

The First Presidency on 21 May 1945