"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind" and "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Matthew 22: 37, 39 KJV). Jesus Christ taught these as the two great commandments that encompass all other laws and commandments of God.
Another scripture poses the question "For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?" (Mosiah 5:13, Book of Mormon) As Jesus abundantly taught, loving God and our neighbor involves serving them.
I have the opportunity to interview missionaries just after they step off the airplane after serving God and his children all across the world. When I ask them about their feelings about God, they invariably share how much they have grown to love him through their service.
Likewise, when asked about the people they served, they often tear up and express great love for not only those who responded to their message, but also for all the people of that nation or region.
I wish every young person could have that opportunity because it would go a long way toward greater understanding, tolerance and peace in this world. Almost 40 years ago, I served a mission in Mexico and to this day I have a great love for Latinos everywhere.
As I serve others, something inside me changes. I see those whom I serve differently. I gain a new perspective and begin to recognize that my own challenges often are minimal or manageable.
When my daughter was in college, she decided to take three months off to serve children in orphanages in Ecuador. That short time of service was life-changing for her. Upon her return, she was less self-centered and began drawing even closer to her Heavenly Father.
As parents, we marveled at the transformation that was occurring. She became much happier, focused and desirous to serve others.
This same principle of love and service is true in our families. When each of our children was born, my wife had an immediate bond with that baby whom she already had served for nine months. As I changed diapers and served them in various ways, that same bond developed quickly.
Usually when marriages struggle, if each spouse will forget themselves and serve the other, a greater love develops. If they also draw closer to God by loving and serving him, they naturally draw closer to each other.
I have found in my own life -- and through observing the lives of others -- that lasting, true happiness indeed does come from keeping the two great commandments of God. It is making the word "love" an action verb through service to God and his children.
-- Brent A. Pulsipher is president of the West Richland Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 333 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA 99336. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.