Lectures on Love - 5 Times Pres. Nelson Taught from the Heart

As a well-known surgeon, Russel M. Nelson became an expert on the heart.  His lectures on love show that this expertise goes far beyond the operating room.  Below, examples of five times he spoke from the heart, teach us of the importance of strengthening the power of love.

1. The Laboratory of Love, March 1979 Ensign 

Where the home is, there love should be. The home is the laboratory of love, and in it resides the most important unit of the Church and of society—the family.  Recently I was interviewed by a representative of a national magazine who expressed keen interest in a photograph on my desk of Sister Nelson and me with our family. He asked if we had any problems with rebellious youth, drug abuse, and morals among such a large family. When I replied in the negative, his interest seemed to become more intense.

Then he said, “When did you and your wife start to plan for your family and give them such emphasis in your lives?”

I simply replied, “Before we were ever married.” Then I continued, “You see, we believe that our major goal in life is to strengthen our family. Service in the Church, the community, continuing education, and our occupational endeavors all are undertaken to provide development for our family.”
He seemed surprised. He countered; “But earlier in our interview you said you and your wife had always tried to obey the scripture, ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God.’ (Matt. 6:33.) Now you tell me the family comes first.”

He thought he had me. But I simply reviewed my long-established priorities and said, “I cannot seek the kingdom of God without loving and honoring first that family he has given to me. I cannot honor that family without loving and caring first for my wife!” I love her. She is my highest priority, and our eternal marriage in the temple is our highest commitment. We love our children and their children born and yet unborn. This love we are building in the sanctuary of our home. Here is where we have learned the power of love, and I testify that it is a real, dynamic, all-encompassing power!

2. Teach us Tolerance and Love, April 1994

“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.

“On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matt. 22: 36-40).

Hence, our highest priorities in life are to love God and to love our neighbors. That broadly includes neighbors in our own family, our community, our nation, and our world. Obedience to the second commandment facilitates obedience to the first commandment. “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” (Mos. 2:17).

Our Father in Heaven loves all of His children, too. Peter taught that “God is no respecter of persons:

“But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” (Acts 10: 34-35).

Yet His children can be so intolerant with one another.

How different our world would be if all parents would apply this inspired instruction from the Book of Mormon: “Ye will not suffer your children … that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another. …

“But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.” (Mosiah 4-14-15).

We consider love of neighbor an integral part of our mission. And while we serve one another, we continue to build a spiritual house of refuge on the cliffs above. Such a sanctuary becomes a blessing for all mankind. We are but the builders; the architect is almighty God.

Our Creator decreed “that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.” (Mosiah 18:21).

3. Blessed are the Peacemakers, October 2002

Jesus…declared the two great commandments: first, to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,” (Matt. 22:37) and the second, to “love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matt 22:39).

Then He added, “Love your enemies, [and] bless them that curse you.” (Matt 5:44).

He taught the Golden Rule: “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” (Matt 7:12).

This concept of treating others as one would like to be treated is easy to understand. And it acknowledges the precious nature of each of God’s sons and daughters.

The commandments to love God and neighbor are interrelated. We cannot fully love God without loving our neighbor. We cannot fully love our neighbor without loving God.

4. Nurturing Marriage, April 2006

I know “that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”1

Marriage brings greater possibilities for happiness than does any other human relationship. Yet some married couples fall short of their full potential. They let their romance become rusty, take each other for granted, allow other interests or clouds of neglect to obscure the vision of what their marriage really could be. Marriages would be happier if nurtured more carefully.

I realize that many mature members of the Church are not married. Through no failing of their own, they deal with the trials of life alone. Be we all reminded that in the Lord’s own way and time, no blessings will be withheld from His faithful Saints.2 For those who are now or will be married, I suggest [three action verbs] you can take to have a more joyful marriage: to appreciate, to communicate , and to contemplate.

To appreciate—to say “I love you” and “thank you”—is not difficult. But these expressions of love and appreciation do more than acknowledge a kind thought or deed. They are signs of sweet civility. As grateful partners look for the good in each other and sincerely pay compliments to one another, wives and husbands will strive to become the persons described in those compliments.

To communicate well with your spouse—is also important. Good communication includes taking time to plan together. Couples need private time to observe, to talk, and really listen to each other. They need to cooperate—helping each other as equal partners. They need to nurture their spiritual as well as physical intimacy. They should strive to elevate and motivate each other. Marital unity is sustained when goals are mutually understood. Good communication is also enhanced by prayer. To pray with specific mention of a spouse’s good deed (or need) nurtures a marriage.

Finally, to contemplate. This word has deep meaning. It comes from Latin roots: con, meaning “with,” and templum, meaning “a space or place to meditate.” Contemplation allows one to anticipate and to resonate (or be in tune) with each other and with the Lord. Contemplation will nurture both a marriage and God’s kingdom.

When you as husband and wife recognize the divine design in your union—when you feel deeply that God has brought you to each other—your vision will be expanded and your understanding enhanced. Such feelings are expressed in words of a song that has long been a favorite of mine:

Because you come to me with naught save love,
And hold my hand and lift mine eyes above,
A wider world of hope and joy I see,
Because you come to me.

Because you speak to me in accents sweet,
I find the roses waking round my feet,
And I am led through tears and joy to thee,
Because you speak to me.

Because God made thee mine, I’ll cherish thee
Through light and darkness, through all time to be,
And pray His love may make our love divine,
Because God made thee mine.

That each marriage may be so nurtured is my prayer.

  1. “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Liahona, Oct. 2004, 49; Ensign,Nov. 1995, 102, paragraph 1.
  2. See Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. (1954–56), 2:76.
  3. “Because,” words by Edward Teschemacher (1902).
  4. Generations Linked in Love, April 2010

When I think of the love I feel for each member of [my] family, I sense, to a slight degree, the love that our Heavenly Father bears for His children. While the family is under attack throughout the world, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims, promotes, and protects the truth that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

We teach that God’s love for His children is infinite. Regardless of race, nationality, or gender, He loves all of them.1 He has done so from the beginning and will continue to do so. He invites all to gain eternal exaltation for their family. His work and His glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life—the exaltation—of His children. (see Moses 1:39).

“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).

  1. See 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:28; 2 Nephi 26:33 

May we strive to strengthen our hearts by using them in love.

Melodee Cooper is a Texan by birth, an Aggie by choice, the wife of a fellow Aggie because “he loves her more,” and a mother of three boys by a combination of time, modern science, and divine intervention. She has taught both 5th and 6th grade math and science, and is now able to be a stay-at-home mom, an amateur decorator, a crafter, a blogger, and a holiday enthusiast. She is battling Stage 4 cancer while remaining optimistic and grateful for the blessings in her life.

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