12 Behold, I had led them, notwithstanding their wickedness I had led them many times to battle, and had loved them, according to the love of God which was in me, with all my heart; and my soul had been poured out in prayer unto my God all the day long for them; nevertheless, it was without faith, because of the hardness of their hearts.
Moroni recorded a sermon which his father, Mormon, had preached on the topic of “faith, hope, and charity” (Moroni 7:1). In that sermon, Mormon taught that “charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him” (Moroni 7:47). He encouraged his listeners to seek to obtain that gift for themselves:
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure (Moroni 7:48).
In the verse above, we see evidence of that charity in Mormon’s life. As the commander of the Nephite armies, he led a group of wicked and stubborn people. He was at times forbidden to preach to them (Mormon 1:16) and at other times preached but with no discernible success (Mormon 3:2-3). He was appointed leader of their armies at the age of sixteen (Mormon 2:1), later refused to lead them because of their horrific behavior (Mormon 3:11), and then returned to lead them again, but “without hope” (Mormon 5:1-2). He urged his son to continue to keep preaching the gospel to the people, in spite of their non-receptiveness (Moroni 9:6).
What motivated Mormon to keep working so diligently, leading the people to battles that he knew they would ultimately lose, preaching truths they didn’t want to hear, and even pouring out his heart in prayers for them “all the day long,” when he doubted that those prayers would do any good? He tells us the answer in this verse: because he loved them “according to the love of God which was in me, with all my heart.”
God’s love is not dependent on our good behavior. Jesus taught that the Father “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). Therefore, if we want to emulate Him, we must learn to love people even when they don’t respond favorably to that love.
Today, I will strive to follow Mormon’s example. I will love and serve the people around me regardless of how they respond. I will strive to see others as Heavenly Father sees them and to labor diligently on their behalf, even when I can’t see the results of my labors.