Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 15 November 21:
John 14:15, 16, 21, 23, 24 — “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever…. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me…. If anyone loves me, he will keep my word…. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.”
When something is repeated in the Bible it is for emphasis. Three times in John 14 alone, Jesus reiterates that love and obedience go hand-in-hand. Many people believe in God, but James reminds us that even the demons believe in God – “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (James 2:19) There is a difference between knowledge of the Truth and faith in the Truth which loves, trusts, and obeys. James goes on to say that faith without works is dead. Obedience is not the path to salvation but rather the product, the fruit, the evidence of saving faith.
To love God is to obey Him with contentment from the heart – “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6) Jesus points out that love inspired obedience will be VERY powerful in the life of a true Christian – “Whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it…. the Spirit of Truth… will be in you…. I will love him and manifest myself to him…. The Helper… will teach you all things… Peace I leave with you.” The powerless Christian has a love problem. The loving Christian will be evident to all by the power of the Spirit flowing through him or her. How is your spiritual love life?
“Obedience to God’s commands comes from your heart. When you struggle to obey God, that is a clear indication that your heart for the Lord isn’t what it should be, you are not wholeheartedly with Him. Some claim: ‘I love God, but I’m having difficulty obeying Him in certain areas of my life.’ What did Jesus say? “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John adds, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” In other words, when you love Jesus, obedience is not hard, rather it is what you really want to do. If I were to ask you, ‘Do you love God?’ you might easily respond, ‘Yes!’ However, if I were to ask you, ‘Are you obeying God?’ would you answer yes as quickly? Yet, I would be asking you the same question! Genuine love for God leads to wholehearted obedience.
However, acts of outward obedience without love are really only displays of legalism, prideful self-righteousness, which automatically disobeys the primary commandment of love — “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) Many conscientious Christians seek to cultivate discipline in their lives to be more obedient to Christ. As helpful as spiritual disciplines can be, they never can replace your love for God. Love is the discipline. God looks beyond your godly habits, beyond your moral lifestyle, and beyond your church involvement and focuses His penetrating gaze upon your heart. Has your worship become empty and routine? Have you lost your motivation to read God’s Word? Are you experiencing spiritual lethargy? Is your prayer life reduced to a ritual? These are symptoms of a heart that has shifted away from God. Return to your first love. Love is the greatest motivation for a relationship with God and for serving Him.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 15 November 21: Pray that God would increase your love and heartfelt commitment to obey Him for His glory.