taking a cue from elder oaks' talk "why do we serve?" i wanted to apply the same reasons for service to reasons to obey god's commandments.
the main principal behind this talk is found in proverbs 23:7; which states, as a man "thinketh in his heart, so is he." god wants our actions and thoughts to be in harmony. when we are duplicitous, in a sense, our souls are split and harmed. other scriptures to consider are: d&c 64:34, d&c 16:6, mosiah 24:12, alma 18:32, moroni 7:6-7, alma 12:14.
therefore, one of the main challenges in life is to tune our hearts and actions to god's will and commandments.
with that concept in mind, we now can observe the many reasons why people serve and / or keep the commandments.
reason 1: earthly reward
some people will serve or keep the commandments if by so serving or obeying, it will enable them greater wealth in their business or social interactions. a common example of this might be offering to help someone with the intention that that person will return a favor to them (i.e. buy a product or be a patron of the business).
reason 2: personal companionship
this example is often seen in missions. people may join the church or come to church because of the missionaries. but as soon as the missionaries leave, people may stop associating with the church. people may be selective of when to serve or obey based on who their home teachers are or who is in the ward. if the ward members are acceptable, they will serve and attend. but if not, they will not engage. take note, that if all members strive to be kind and loving to everyone, then people may expand their friendships and desire to worship with all members. also note, that christ served with, associated with and loved all people.
reason 3: fear of punishment
the scriptures are full of examples of what happens to those who do not obey or serve. fear certainly motivates, but it does not motivate for the right reasons. fear should never be used to motivate others to do what is right. when fear is used to move others to serve and obey, the person instilling the fear is simply using "unrighteous dominion".
reason 4: sense of duty or loyalty
elder oaks calls people who serve and obey out of a sense of duty or loyalty "good soldiers." without question, they serve and obey. they are all around us. their commitment to their fellow-men is unwavering. there are still higher reasons to serve and obey.
reason 5: eternal reward
those who are 'in it for the long-haul' are those who are keen on achieving eternal life. they will ensure hardships and persecution. they are not easily swayed by temptations or peer pressure. they are committed to god and their fellow-men with the expectation that they will live with god forever.
reason 6: true charity
those who have developed a sense of a true love of god and all men have also developed true charity. these people have developed a love for all; and have developed the ability to see people as god sees them. truly charitable people have become fully committed to god's plan for his children, and they actively participate in helping that plan be realized. as 1 cor 13:1-3 states, we can give our all to the poor, but if we don't do it for the right reasons (charity), "it profiteh ... nothing."