God’s creatures all long for love and affection
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
“And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
“And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
“Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; “Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
“Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (1 Cor. 13:1–7, 13.)
“But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.” (Moro. 7:47.)
Truly love is the greatest virtue of all. God’s creatures all long for love and affection. We have seen this manifested in the animal creation—the horse, the dog, the cow, the cat, even wild animals seem to long for and recognize love when it is extended to them. The scriptures tell us, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16), and our Savior himself, God’s Only Begotten Son, was willing to die an ignominious death on the cross that mankind, his brothers and sisters, might receive forgiveness of their sins, resurrect from the grave, and have the opportunity to attain eternal life. This was a great sacrifice on his part, the greatest illustration of love of which we have any record.
True fathers and mothers would give their lives to save their children from the tragedies of sin and even mortal death, so strong is their love for those children. His gospel is a gospel of love. There can be nothing selfish about the Church, because the purpose of the gospel and its virtue is to bring salvation and exaltation to our fellowmen, God’s children. He has said: “… this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39.) When we are assisting him in this work, we are loving our neighbor, we are loving our Heavenly Father and his Beloved Son.
Inasmuch as Christ was willing to give his life for us, we should be willing to extend our love to him by sacrifice, if necessary, in order to aid, help, and join with him in this great work. There is no selfishness in love. This applies to parents and children, to husbands and wives, to brothers and sisters. Parents love their children. They are happy when their children are successful; they are sad when they do wrong. The greatest joy that can come to the hearts of parents is the joy that they receive when their children keep the commandments of the Lord and do what is right and when they succeed in life.
Love between man and wife, like love of parents for children, feeds on unselfishness and self-sacrifice. The magnitude of the divorce situation would be greatly reduced if husbands were more considerate of their wives and wives more considerate of their husbands. If they could refrain from selfishness and be willing to give all, if necessary, for their marital companion, they would have happiness in their own souls and would grow and develop in understanding of the true principles of life and the purpose of our existence. Marriage is not a 50–50 proposition; each partner must give 100 percent, everything he has. Normally a good wife wants her husband to have the best that she can possibly give him, and the same is true of the husband. There are times when there are differences of opinion. At such times we should all bring ourselves under control. True love does not insist upon having its own way even though the individual may be certain in his own mind that he is right. In the inspired family unit we think more often of others and not so much of ourselves. Surely it is true that many women suffer long and patiently in their love for their careless, indifferent, and unworthy husbands. The same is true in regard to a good man and his thoughtless wife. In other words, love may “suffer long” and be kind.
If we love the Lord as we are commanded to do and as we most certainly should do, we will keep his commandments. All of his commandments are for our benefit and blessing. Our Heavenly Father, being all-wise, does not give us everything we want. Sometimes, perhaps, we are inclined to feel bitter because of trials and problems we have to endure, but he, knowing what is best for us and being all-loving as he is, is trying to help us.
Paul said: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.” [Rom. 8:28] He has also said that he whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth. It is sometimes a weakness in parents’ attitudes that because of their love for their children, they haven’t the courage or the understanding that at times those children need correction and chastisement. Sometimes children are, unwittingly perhaps, encouraged to follow a course that will not bring happiness and satisfaction but, on the contrary, misery and failure. Someone has said that if our Heavenly Father wanted to destroy us he would answer all our prayers in the manner we wish them answered.
The bishop of a ward, being the father of the ward family, is interested in the welfare and happiness of those over whom he presides, but that does not mean that his responsibility requires him to overlook their faults and weaknesses. There come times when members of the ward must be chastised because they have broken the laws of the Lord, and the Lord “cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.” [Alma 45:16] The bishop, like the father of the family, should advise the members of his ward as to the course they should follow, and with the assistance of the home teachers and others, do all in his power to guide them along such paths as will bring happiness and satisfaction to them.
The extension of justice may of necessity bring sadness and bitterness, but the love of God, extended through the kindness of the good bishop, shows the way back to a life of obedience and happiness. For there is no higher happiness than that which comes from the personal awareness of the pure love of Christ, the greatest of the virtues: charity.