One can almost hear his voice. His words are gentle, honest, and compassionate –expressions of truth that lead others to Christ. Because He First Loved Us is Elder Henry B. Eyring’s most recent publication, a companion volume to his last book, To Draw Closer To God. In this collection of discourses, Elder Eyring writes of our potential to more fully experience the love of God and, in turn, offer that love to others.
Elder Eyring was sustained a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in April 1995. Over the years, members of the church have come to love his peaceful nature, his humble yet candid discussion of gospel principles, and the persuasive way he urges others to become disciples of Christ. The discourses in this book are taken from General Conferences of the Church and various talks given at University devotionals. Elder Eyring begins, “The restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith brought many blessings. For me, none is more precious than a knowledge of the loving nature of our Heavenly Father and of His son, Jesus Christ.”
From the first book of John, Eyring quotes, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of god and knoweth god…We love him, because he first loved us…And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also.” (1 John 4: 7, 19, 21) Eyring teaches that keeping the first commandment naturally leads to keeping the second because “to love the Father and the Son is to serve those they love…In that service, our love of God increases…In time our very nature changes…This book is about that love and that service.”
Eyring’s book is gracefully tethered into three sections that are separate but similar in theme. The first section, entitled “Turning Our Hearts”, expounds upon the commandment to love God. The second and third sections open the turned heart to others, like a flower unfolding its petals in the warmth of the sun. They are respectively titled, “Leading Others to Christ” and “Blessing Others in Love.”
In the first section, Eyring teaches principles that help us build lives of light and truth. He strongly encourages us not to delay repentance but to become the children of promise God intended us to be, to pray always and find safety in God’s counsel, and to make persistent efforts that will help us become one with God. Each chapter helps the reader move forward, inclining the ear and the heart. He writes, “Each time a line of truth comes to us, we get to choose what we will do about it. If we try hard to do what that truth requires of us, God will send more light and more truth.”
One of the more clever and wise laws about which Eyring teaches is “the law of increasing returns.” The world drones of diminishing returns where we seem to receive less and less with repeated effort. With God, however, the returns are immeasurable. Our first efforts may yield little, but with consistent work, our rewards will grow. “Give more than you take; invest in the future, cast your bread upon the waters.”
Eyring also suggests that “seeing a distant goal” will make for a life of voluminous returns. After describing a spiritual glimpse he once had of his family, he explained, “You rarely can have a photograph of that future for which you now sacrifice, but you can get pictures. Years ago…it occurred to me that I would sometime perhaps have a family…more than once that picture was enough to make me work, and wait.” He goes on, “I suppose those pictures are really visions. And you’d have to pray for them, or take them as gifts. But at least watch for them. You may catch glimmers. I’ve had a few. And they help.”
In the last two sections of his book, Eyring’s discourses flood us with ideas, suggestions and applications with which we can embrace others in the gospel of Christ. Our families, friends, new members of the church, and those we know who are searching for truth are among those who need God’s love. Eyring says we bring others to Christ because we have made a covenant to do so. Although we are weak, he reminds us that the Lord will help us overcome our fears and waning faith, “And inasmuch as they were humble they might be made strong, and blessed from on high” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:28). After reading these chapters, I was inspired in my own personal missionary work. I received light regarding certain steps I should take, things I ought to say. I was changed, even if in small ways.
Elder Henry B. Eyring’s sermons have lifted many around the world as he has taught the power of love and truth. It is evident from his message that he is a special witness for Christ, called to testify of God’s love. His stories are warm, thoughtful, and real. His counsel is sound, his warnings appropriate - his words echo the Master. Because He First Loved Us will capture the desires of your heart and enlarge your capacity to love as the Savior loves.