Our beloved prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, has taught that “love is the very essence of the gospel.”1
Love is the central motive for all we do in the Church. Every program, every meeting, every action we are part of as disciples of Jesus Christ should spring from this attribute—for without charity, “the pure love of Christ,” we are nothing.3
Once we understand this with our mind and heart, once we declare our love for God and for our fellowman—what then?
Is feeling compassion and love for others enough? Does declaring our love for God and our neighbor satisfy our obligation to God?
At the temple in Jerusalem, the chief priests and elders of the Jews approached Jesus to trap Him in His words. The Savior, however, turned the tables on them by telling a story.
“A certain man had two sons,” He began. The father went to the first and asked him to go work in the vineyard. But the son refused. Later that son “repented, and went.”
The father then went to his second son and asked him to go work in the vineyard. The second son assured him that he would go, but he never went.
Then the Savior turned to the priests and elders and asked, “Which one of these two sons did the will of his father?”
They had to admit that it was the first son—the one who said he would not go but later repented and went to work in the vineyard.4
The Savior used this story to emphasize an important principle—it is those who obey the commandments who truly love God.
Perhaps this is why Jesus asked the people to listen to and follow the words of the Pharisees and scribes but not to follow their example.5 These religious teachers did not walk the talk. They loved to talk about religion, but sadly they missed its essence.
In one of the Savior’s final lessons to His disciples, He spoke to them of the final Judgment. The wicked and the righteous would be separated. The good would inherit eternal life; the wicked would be delivered to eternal punishment.
What was the difference between the two groups?
Those who demonstrated their love through action were saved. Those who did not were condemned.6 True conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ and its values and principles will be witnessed by our actions in our daily lives.
In the end, mere declaration of love for God and fellowmen will not qualify us for exaltation. For, as Jesus taught, “not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”7
The answer to the question “After love, then what?” can be simple and straightforward. If we truly love the Savior, we incline our hearts to Him and then we walk in the path of discipleship. When we love God, we will strive to keep His commandments.8
If we truly love our fellowmen, we extend ourselves to help “the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.”9 For they who do these selfless acts of compassion and service,10 the same are disciples of Jesus Christ.
This is what comes after love.
This is the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ.