Monday, February 7, 2022

Elder Marvin J. Ashton on showing real love to God and one another

Elder Marvin J. Ashton (1915-1994) served as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles from 1971 until his death in 1994 at age 78.
"We must at regular and appropriate intervals speak and reassure others of our love and the long time it takes to prove it by our actions. Real love does take time. The Great Shepherd had the same thoughts in mind when he taught, 'If ye love me, keep my commandments' (John 14:15; italics added) and 'If ye love me feed my sheep' (John 21:16; italics added). Love demands action if it is to be continuing. Love is a process. Love is not a declaration. Love is not an announcement. Love is not a passing fancy. Love is not an expediency. Love is not a convenience. 'If ye love me, keep my commandments' and 'If ye love me feed my sheep' are God-given proclamations that should remind us we can often best show our love through the processes of feeding and keeping....
"Certainly the best way for us to show our love in keeping and feeding is by taking the time to prove it hour by hour and day by day. Our expressions of love and comfort are empty if our actions don't match. God loves us to continue. Our neighbors and families love us if we will but follow through with sustaining support and self-sharing. True love is as eternal as life itself. Who is to say the joys of eternity are not wrapped up in continuous feeding, keeping, and caring? We need not weary in well-doing when we understand God's purposes and his children.
"Undoubtedly our Heavenly Father tires of expressions of love in words only. He has made it clear through his prophets and his word that his ways are ways of commitment, and not conversation. He prefers performance over lip service. We show our true love for him in proportion to our keeping his words and the processes of feeding."
- Marvin J. Ashton, "Love Takes Time," General Conference October 1975
Click here to read the full talk

This is a beautiful summary of an eternally-important principle and doctrine: love, both as we interact with one another and as we interact with God, is not a passive declaration; it is a constant outward demonstration of an inward commitment. While it is important that we "at regular and appropriate intervals speak and reassure others of our love," it is much more important that we demonstrate that love through our actions. As Elder Ashton pointedly says, "Our expressions of love and comfort are empty if our actions don't match."

And while this principle is important as we consider our interactions with one another, it is even more crucial as we think about our relationship to our Father in Heaven. He asked for "commitment, not conversation" and "performance over lip service." The true demonstration of our love for Him is in how we obey His commandments and how we feed His sheep.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2022)
April 24, 2016

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