Obedience … it is a hard lesson for children to learn and often we, as adults, still have difficulty accomplishing it. Obedience comes easy when it concerns something that I want to do anyway. When the task being asked of us is fun or something we are interested in, obedience is not hard at all. It comes, almost, naturally!
But when it relates to something that is difficult or outside my own comfort zone, then it is hard to obey.
As a child, I remember telling my Mother that I loved her. Then, later in the day, when she asked that I do something for her, I hesitated and waited until it suited me, rather than her. At bedtime, I said I loved her and she replied: “Really? That surprises me.”
Her statement caught me off guard and my eyes teared up when I asked “Why, Mommy?” Her reply echoes in my heart even today: “If you loved me, you would do what I say rather than ignore my direction or argue with me.”
In the Gospel of John, Jesus talked about love and obedience when He said:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
John 14:15 [ESV] He continued on with this thought in verse 21:
“Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
John 14:21 [ESV]
So, what are Jesus’ commandments? While there are a number of things that He said we should do, they are summarized in Matthew’s Gospel where He says:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Matthew 22:37-39 [ESV]
In the Gospel of John, Jesus makes it even more pointed – incredibly, He tells us we are to have the same love for others that He has for us.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:34-35 [ESV].
What is His love for us like? It is overwhelming. It sent Jesus to the cross as a substitute for our sin so, if we believe in Him, we could live with Him forever.
Do we love others like that? We can’t be their substitute for sin because we also are sinners. But, do we live our life in such a way as to put others first over our own desires and wishes?
- What about starting with our family members – surely we can love like Jesus loves when we are talking about those to whom we are related! Too hard to do?
- Well, perhaps we can love strangers who don’t know us, and who we don’t know. Those people we could love like Jesus loves us! Maybe, but probably not!
- Well then, how are we ever going to love those we don’t like if we have difficulty loving those in the two categories above? The difficulty of it is irrelevant — the command is still there. We are to love even those we don’t like. Think of the parable of the Good Samaritan. Luke 10:30-37.
In fact, Jesus even went one step farther — we are to love our enemies!
“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:44-48 [ESV]
Obedience – we show our love for our Savior by the way we obey His commands. Not just the convenient ones or those that are easy. We are to be obedient to all of them. I recognize that we cannot do it in our own strength. Indeed, this is totally against our human nature and we need to have His Spirit flow through us to enable us to love like this. When we fail, we must confess that failure and seek His grace for the power to love as He commands.
What if people could see, on a daily basis, evidence of our relationship with Jesus by how we love others? At home, at work, at school? On the bus, the playground, the elevator? In the grocery store, the mall, the post office? Do we exhibit love to our boss or our co-workers or to the server at the restaurant? Do we show love to the person next to us on Sunday morning?
Beloved, what has been your response to His love? Has it made any difference in your life?
Do we have obedient love for our Lord and Savior? Do we obey Jesus’ commands?
Does our love to our neighbors reflect our love for Jesus? Jesus said that it will.
So, I guess the real question is
“How much do we love Jesus?”
Father, may I express my love to your Son, my Savior Jesus Christ, by ministering to those He loves, whether they may be among my friends or not. May I express my love to you, Father, by studying your Word and praying, listening to the Holy Spirit urge and direct me as I walk the path you have provided for me. Thank you Father for your love and presence in my life, and for your Holy Spirit who comforts, encourages and strengthens me. Forgive me when I have turned a blind eye and ignored pleas for assistance. Please give me grace that I may love others as you love me, through the power of your Holy Spirit and to the glory of God the Father.