Area Leadership Message     

The First Two Commandments

Elder Emanuel Petrignani, Italy, Europe Central Area Seventy
Elder Emanuel Petrignani, Italy Europe Central Area Seventy

Unto him that receiveth I will give more 

While serving as a full-time missionary in France many years ago, my companion and I were invited into the home of a kind and faithful Christian lady. During a pleasant conversation, she expressed her concerns about the decline of faith in society. In her opinion, some of the religious terminology, such as “repentance” or “obedience”, was contributing to such decline. “People are scared by these words”, she insisted, “and are pushed away from religion”.  

Since then, I have often reflected about the words we use in our gospel conversations. While it is true that society in general may negatively view some gospel-related terms, it is also true that words can have profound meaning and power. The study of the scriptures reveals that the Lord is intentional about the words He chooses. As we take the time to understand their meaning, we begin to understand His message and purposes more profoundly.   

Obedience is about trust and love 

One such word, having deep meaning and power, is the word “obedience”. The law of obedience was given to Adam and Eve after their fall. The law was the first step to accessing the redeeming power of the Savior. Contrary to what the world thinks, obedience is not about constraint; it is rather about learning to trust God and His counsel: “blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more” (1). As we learn to trust the Lord, we begin to develop a personal relationship with Him and to experience the marvelous effects of His blessings. Trust in Him engenders love, and love continues to foster trust. As we obey His voice, our love grows deeper and our relationship with Him becomes solid and joyful.  

A change of heart 

I find it interesting that prior to instructing the Pharisees about the first two great commandments of loving God and our neighbor (2), the Savior taught the parable of the marriage of the King´s son, concluding by saying “for many are called, but few are chosen” (3). In modern revelation, the Lord adds further explanation to this statement as He taught “…why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men…” (4). As we obey the Lord and learn to trust and love Him, our heart gradually changes, and our desires shift their focus towards our covenant relationship with Him. In the process of learning obedience, we also learn to treasure and care about the good things that really matter.  

yellow paper plate with pink heart

Becoming less self-centered 

As our focus changes, we gradually diminish our natural tendency to be self-centered. The law of obedience was never intended to create puppets, but rather to develop disciples who trust by choice and choose to love the Lord and others. Our Heavenly Father is perfect because His heart has changed. God is God because He constantly chooses good; His heart no longer harbors any evil desires, choosing constantly to love and to do what is best for us (5). In the words of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland “the first great commandment of all eternity is to love God with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength—that’s the first great commandment. But the first great truth of all eternity is that God loves us with all of His heart, might, mind, and strength. That love is the foundation stone of eternity, and it should be the foundation stone of our daily life”(6).  

May we find the strength to trust and love the Lord by obeying His voice. Then our hearts will change and will experience the profound joy that comes from having a personal relationship with Him. 


  1. 2 Nephi 28:30 

  1. Matthew 22:36-40, Luke 10:25-37 

  1. Matthew 22:14 

  1. D&C 121:34-35 

  1. 2 Nephi 26:24 

  1. “Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders among You”, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, General Conference April 2016