Friday, October 8, 2021

President M. Russell Ballard on loving the Savior

President M. Russell Ballard (born October 8, 1928) was called as a Seventy in 1976, and has served as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1985. He became acting president of the Twelve in January 2018.
"After Jesus’s Resurrection, as we read in John chapter 21, Peter and the other disciples fished all night without success.1 In the morning, they saw a man standing on the shore who told them to cast their net on the other side of the boat. To their astonishment, the net was filled miraculously. (See John 21:11.)

"They immediately recognized that the man was the Lord, and they rushed to greet Him.

"As they dragged the net to shore, full of fish, Jesus said, 'Come and dine.' (John 21:12.) John reports that 'when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?' (John 21:15, emphasis added.)

"While I was standing on that same seashore, I realized that the Savior’s question was one of the most important questions that He might someday ask me. I could almost hear His voice asking, 'Russell, lovest thou me more than these?'

"Do you wonder what Jesus was referring to when He asked Peter, 'Lovest thou me more than these?'

"Relating this question to ourselves in our day, the Lord may be asking us about how busy we are and about the many positive and negative influences competing for our attention and our time. He may be asking each of us if we love Him more than the things of this world. This may be a question about what we really value in life, who we follow, and how we view our relationships with family members and neighbors. Or maybe He is asking what really brings us joy and happiness.

"Do the things of this world bring us the joy, happiness, and peace that the Savior offered to His disciples and that He offers to us? Only He can bring us true joy, happiness, and peace through our loving Him and following His teachings.

"How would we answer the question 'Lovest thou me more than these?'

"When we discover a fuller meaning of this question, we can become better family members, neighbors, citizens, members of the Church, and sons and daughters of God."

- M. Russell Ballard, "Lovest Thou Me More Than These?", General Conference October 2021, Saturday evening
Click here to read or view the complete talk

President Ballard helps us consider the Savior's teachings to his disciples in a deeply personal way. When he asked Peter about the love he felt, he could have equally been asking each of us. The comparison of "more than these" provides us the challenge to consider our priorities and loyalties, the things that matter most in our lives.

Do we truly love Him more than we love the things of the world? Do our actions, our choices, our lives reflect that choice? President Ballard provides a number of things to consider:
  • how busy we are
  • the influences, good and bad, that compete for our time
  • what do we really value?
  • whom do we follow?
  • how are our relationships with family members and others?
  • what brings us joy and happiness?
As we consider these, and other, aspects of our lives, we will be able to discover if our loyalty to Him is in the proper position.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)

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