Wednesday, February 23, 2011

True Love (Part 3): Love That Obeys

Love That Obeys

How many times have we heard or said things like, "If you love me, you'll do as I ask," or "If you love me, you'll buy me what I want?"  We almost instinctively associate love with obedience, and for good reason.  In fact, Jesus said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15).

But how much do we need to love Him?  After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to the Apostles on the sea shore, while they were out fishing.  Later, by the fire, Jesus asked Peter not once, but three times, if he loved Him more than fishing.  "He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep" (John 21:17). Jesus wanted to make the point that we need to put Him ahead of our jobs, hobbies, and other passions.

But is that enough love?  "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26).  I love the King James Bible, because it can be so blunt at times.  Obviously, Jesus did not mean that we should actually hate our own family; He meant to emphasize that we must put Him first in our hearts.  We need to love Jesus first and foremost, which is the only way that we will be able to obey His commandments.

So what are His commandments?  "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Matthew 22:37-40).

Obeying God's commandments and living righteously boil down to just one thing: love.  If we love God more than anything else, then we will obey Him.  If we sin, it is because we are misdirecting our love toward something else and putting that above God.  Every sin comes from insufficient or misdirected love.  A heart that truly loves God above all else cannot sin.

But we know that this is impossible in our own strength.  Earthly, natural love is so easily deceived and thrown off-track, that it is grossly insufficient to obey God.  But, after ascending back into Heaven, Jesus sent us another gift, perhaps even more precious than the first: The Holy Spirit, to dwell in our hearts.

"... The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5b).

"Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also" (1 John 4:7-21).

It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we not only experience God's love for us, but obtain the kind of holy and perfect love that empowers us to obey Him and serve others.  "We love him, because he first loved us."


Warren Baldwin said...

It is natural for Christians to want to do the right thing. But too often, that leads to making lists of what the right things are. And, of course, we wind up leaving off things we can't or don't do! Lists fail. Love never does. Good post!

Warren Baldwin said...

Just read it again. Good message.

DJR @failedatheist said...

Hey Greg! Hope your well, I keep looking at my blog feed and wonder when you will be back :P God-bless

MikeSnow said...

Excellent. 'Love that obeys' would have been a better chapter title [mine was "Love and Obedience"] in Love, Prayer, and Forgiveness: When Basics Become Heresies.
If you would care to review it, I would be glad to send you the pdf.