George F. Richards, Conference Report, October 1946, pp. 137-141
I have carried in my pocket the manuscript of a talk which I thought I might give should I have the opportunity of speaking in conference, but I have not received the inspiration to use it. I have tried to assemble some of my thoughts so as to express them in a way that will be of interest to you, my numerous friends, brethren and sisters, and to say a few words upon the greatest thing in the world. I read a book a few years ago entitled The Greatest Thing in the World, and that thing was love.
THE GREAT COMMANDMENT
The Savior has had something to say upon this subject, and the thought just occurred to me that if he were here in the presence of this large congregation so that we could look upon him and hear what he would say, perhaps his words would be more impressive than they have been to us by reading them in the scriptures.
A learned man, a lawyer, approached him on one occasion and asked him:
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 neighbor as thyself (Matt. 22:36-39).
On another occasion he said:
. . . Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despite fully use you, and persecute you (Matt. 5:44).
We are also told in the scriptures that we should walk in the light as he, Jesus, was in the light (1 Jn. 1:7), or, in other words, to follow his example.
When he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, his perspiration was like blood dropping upon the ground (Luke 22:44). We are told, by an angel to King Benjamin, a great Book of Mormon prophet, that blood would ooze from the pores of his body, so great should be his anguish, because of the wickedness and the abominations of his people (Mosiah 3:7), occasioned, of course, by the love that he had for the people.
We mourn and have anguish of soul if a daughter goes wrong, or a son, because we love them so.
GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD
Then we read that,
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).
We also know that the Savior gave himself voluntarily for all; that his atonement meant, in life and in death, a voluntary gift for us, a manifestation of love that has no comparison. When he was upon the cross in the agonies of death, he turned his thoughts toward his Father in heaven and prayed earnestly:
. . . Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).
There is the example of the Prophet Stephen, who, when being stoned to death, knelt upon the ground and prayed God not to lay that sin to the charge of his persecutors (Acts 7:60).
LOVE WOULD SOLVE PRESENT DAY PROBLEMS
If such love obtained in the world today as the Lord intended that it should, love of God and love of fellow men, there would be no wars, contentions, and strife among the children of men. And that there is such, is due to an indifference by men to heed the admonitions and teachings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I profess love for you, my brethren, sisters, and friends, my hearers. I hope to be able to comply with the law to the extent that I can love all who hear my voice, whether they be in the Church or out of the Church, whether they be good or bad, whatever their condition of life. They are the children of our Eternal Father; they are our brothers and sisters.
No doubt we with them rejoiced and were happy together,
When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy (Job 38:7),
that the plan of salvation had been made and that the Savior had been chosen. We, no doubt, were happy together, all of the children of God. The Prophet Joseph tells us that we were all present in the spirit, intelligent beings able to sit in council with the Gods. We must have been living in love and helpfulness under those conditions, and the fact of our having come to earth should not change our thoughts and our feelings. We ought to love one another just the same here as when we lived in love and happiness in our heavenly home.
MEANING OF LOVE REVEALED THROUGH DREAM
The Lord has revealed to me, by dreams, something more than I ever understood or felt before about the love for God and the love for fellow men. I believe in dreams, brethren and sisters. The Lord has given me dreams, which to me, are just as real and as much from God as was the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 2:1) which was the means of saving a nation from starvation (Gen. 41:1), or the dream of Lehi who through a dream led his colony out of the old country, across the mighty deep to this promised land (1 Ne. 2:1), or any other dreams that we read of in scripture.
It is not out of place for us to have important dream, for we read in the scriptures:
And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams (Acts 2:17).
More than forty years ago I had a dream, which I am sure was from the Lord. In this dream I was in the presence of my Savior as he stood in mid-air. He spoke no word to me, but my love for him was such that I have not words to explain. I know that no mortal man can love the Lord as I experienced that love for the Savior unless God reveals it unto him. I would have remained in his presence, but there was a power drawing me away from him, and as a result of that dream I had this feeling, that no matter what might be required at my hands, what the gospel might entail unto me, I would do what I should be asked to do, even to the laying down of my life (John 15:13).
And so when we read in the scriptures what the Savior said to his disciples:
In my Father's house are many mansions: . . . I go to prepare a place for you . . . that where I am, there ye may be also (John 14:2-3).
I think that is where I want to be. If only I can be with my Savior and have that same sense of love that I had in that dream, it will be the goal of my existence, the desire of my life.
OBLIGATION TO LOVE OUR ENEMIES
Then a few years ago, at the closing of a conference of the St. Johns Stake, we had had a wonderful conference I thought, and I was very happy on retiring. I was sleeping in the home of the president of the stake, Brother Levi Udall, and that night I had a remarkable dream. I have seldom mentioned this to other people, but I do not know why I should not. It seems to me appropriate in talking along this line. I dreamed that I and a group of my own associates found ourselves in a courtyard where, around the outer edge of it, were German soldiers—and Fuhrer Adolph Hitler was there with his group, and they seemed to be sharpening their swords and cleaning their guns, and making preparations for a slaughter of some kind, or an execution. We knew not what, but, evidently we were the objects. But presently a circle was formed and this Fuhrer and his men were all within the circle, and my group and I were circled on the outside, and he was sitting on the inside of the circle with his back to the outside, and when we walked around and I got directly opposite to him, I stepped inside the circle and walked across to where he was sitting, and spoke to him in a manner something like this:
"I am your brother. You are my brother. In our heavenly home we lived together in love and peace. Why can we not so live here on the earth?"
And it seemed to me that I felt in myself, welling up in my soul, a love for that man, and I could feel that he was having the same experience, and presently he arose, and we embraced each other and kissed each other, a kiss of affection.
Then the scene changed so that our group was within the circle, and he and his group were on the outside, and when he came around to where I was standing, he stepped inside the circle and embraced me again, with a kiss of affection.
I think the Lord gave me that dream. Why should I dream of this man, one of the greatest enemies of mankind, and one of the wickedest, but that the Lord should teach me that I must love my enemies (Matt. 5:44), and I must love the wicked as well as the good?
Now, who is there in this wide world that I could not love under those conditions, if I could only continue to feel as I felt then? I have tried to maintain this feeling and, thank the Lord, I have no enmity toward any person in this world; I can forgive all men, so far as I am concerned, and I am happy in doing so and in the love which I have for my fellow men.
I love the Saints of God, as I love the Lord and his work. I love you faithful men and women who are laboring for the Lord, and for your fellow men.
I would like to endorse what Brother S. Dilworth Young said in complimenting the mission presidents of this Church. I feel as he feels in that regard. The picture was not overdrawn, and I think we could draw a similar picture of the presidents of the stakes in this Church, and of the bishops of wards, and of many other faithful men and women.
I remember on one occasion going by train to Alberta, Canada. As we approached Raymond, the wind was blowing, and there had been a light snowfall which was drifting, and I saw a woman and two or three children out in the beet fields working among the beets, and I have never forgotten the feeling I had. Those people working, almost their finger ends off, to make a living, and because God has said that one tenth of their interest should be given annually (D&C 119:4) to him for the building up his kingdom when they get their meager returns, as faithful Saints, they will give to the Lord one tenth. And that is going on all through this Church.
As we visit the stakes and learn that these stake officers and ward officers, almost universally, are full tithepayers and keep the Word of Wisdom, hundreds of thousands of them, manifesting their love for God, their faithfulness in keeping his commandments, their willingness to help carry on this great latter-day work, how can we do otherwise than love them?
God bless you, brethren and sisters, for your faithfulness, and reward you abundantly therefore in time and throughout eternity, I pray, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.