“Keep the Commandments”
The Thanksgiving holiday is a time to express thanks for the many blessings we have been given. A time to pause, reflect, and notice blessings that we may not otherwise recognize. A time to express our love for our Savior and our Heavenly Father, for truly “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father” (James 1:17).
But how can we even begin to express our gratitude to them? King Benjamin puts into words the feelings we may experience as we reflect on our indebtedness to the Father and the Son:
“I say unto that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants” (Mosiah 2:20-21).
Because they bless us with so much, we love them. And as “unprofitable” as we may feel, there are still ways we can express that love and gratitude for our God-given blessings. In John 14, the Savior teaches His apostles a profound lesson about the way they, and we, can show our love to Him and the Father.
He says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” In three words, the Savior Himself gives us the simple formula for expressing gratitude: “Keep my commandments.” It is a phrase so often repeated and even sung in the church, but do we really stop to think about the significance behind it? What does it mean to truly keep His commandments?
In the Oxford Dictionary “keep” is defined as to “have or retain possession of,” “continue doing or do repeatedly,” “retain one’s place in spite of difficulty,” “continue to follow a path or course,” and “guard, protect.” In past times, the word “keep” was used to describe “the strongest or central tower of a castle, acting as a final refuge.”
These definitions may help us understand the plea the Savior was making when he asked his apostles to keep His commandments. Not only does he want us to obey them, He wants us to stay true to them, continually keep them despite difficulty, guard them, and protect them. And as we keep them, they can become a “refuge” for us. If we continue on in the account in John, the Savior further explains how this can happen:
“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”
We learn another great lesson about gratitude from these words. The Savior doesn’t always promise that our burdens will be taken away, or that our prayers will be answered in the way we may hope. What He does promise is that he will send us the Comforter- He will not leave us comfortless. He will come to us. As one who sees us and our circumstances with a much greater perspective than our own, we can trust that He knows what is best.
As we celebrate this time of year, seeking to count our blessings and express our love for the Savior, let us remember that the Savior has taught us to express our love to Him in ways far more significant than just words. He asks us to keep. Keep His commandments, keep our covenants, keep the faith. And as we “keep,” he promises to bless us with the ultimate gift- the Comforter, which enables us to feel as if we are constantly in His presence.
Again in the words of King Benjamin, “he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever.” (Mosiah 2:24). Let us love Him. Let us keep His commandments.
Written by Amanda Brower