In his first general conference address since he was sustained to the First Quorum of the Seventy last April, Elder W. Eugene Hansen said the word "love" best characterizes the life and mission of the Savior.
"The Savior's mission was begun out of love that the Father had for His children," said Elder Hansen in reference to John 3:16, which states, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son ...""Thus," said Elder Hansen, "the greatest mission in the history of the world was ordained and begun because of the love of our kind and caring Eternal Father."
Elder Hansen noted, "You will recall when the Pharisees, in their effort to ensnare the Master, had the lawyer put the question to him, `Master, which is the great commandment in the law?"
An attorney at the time he was called as a General Authority, Elder Hansen elicited laughter when he interjected a personal comment: "I wish it had been someone other than a lawyer who had asked that question, but there is some comfort in the fact that the Pharisees put him up to it."
Quoting the Savior's response, Elder Hansen recited, "Thou shalt love the Lord they God ... [and] Thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." (Matt. 22:36-40)
Elder Hansen referred to a comment by the late Elder James E. Talmage, who concluded that these two commandments "are so closely related as to be virtually one."
Continuing, Elder Hansen said, "As we approach what seem like insurmountable problems facing mankind today, there has never been a greater need for love in the world, not only of God, but love of all mankind."
He noted that as a Church, members are fortunate to be able to show love and render service in an organized way through such efforts as doing missionary work, paying tithes and offerings, and serving in priesthood quorums and auxiliaries.
"But for all of the good that is being accomplished," he noted, "much remains to be done. Perhaps the greatest opportunity for improvement is in our individual relationships with one another."
Elder Hansen offered four suggestions to help focus on princniples "that will make us kinder, gentler, more harmonious and loving persons."
"First," he said, "be considerate. Be sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others, always careful not to demean or belittle by either word or act ...
"Second, be complimentary. Look for attributes and acts of others that you can be genuinely complimentary of ...
"Third, be charitable. Charity is the opposite of selfishness ...
"Fourth, be grateful. If we would show our love to our Heavenly Father, we would be grateful. We should show our gratitude by the way we live, not just by what we say or profess."