1 John 5:3 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,
One evening I was really moved by Jesus’ question to Peter: “Do you love me?” The more I thought about it, the question became alive to me – Do I love Him? If so, how do I know for sure that I truly do love Him? What if I’m deceiving myself? The Bible has many examples of His people thinking they loved Him but their lives didn’t give any evidence of it – in fact their lives demonstrated that they didn’t! Does He leave us to our own devices to determine if we love Him?
As I was crying out to Him about this, a sudden thought shot through my mind, “The answers are in the back of the book.” This really spoke to me because I’m good at math. All the math books I used had the answers to the odd problems in the back of the book. Sometimes I had to start with the answers in order to figure out how to work the problems. God was saying the answers to my question were in His book!
Loving God is defined by God as obeying His commands. Scripture is filled with commands on how we should or should not live. Culturally we have the unfortunate tendency to think of them as instructions or suggestions, but they are commands none-the-less, and every day we have nearly unlimited opportunities to obey them.
Every time we obey a command in Scripture, or respond to His Spirit, it is an objective, concrete expression of our love for Him. (Think be kind, be gentle, don’t gossip, seek humility not pride, love one another, forgive, etc…) We don’t have to wonder if we are really loving Him. We just have to live His word. (Note: As a helpful aid, I have identified 25 different portions of Scripture in the NT that contain such lists and have them written in the back of my Bible under a title of ‘Loving God’.)
God also transforms our motivation. Obedience (holding fast to His teachings and living in accordance with them) becomes something we don’t “have to” do, but we “get to” do! It becomes a joy to do what Scripture says because His Spirit confirms in our hearts that we are expressing genuine love for Him. The more we obey Scripture and the promptings of His Spirit, the more we love Him. It’s like a dream coming true!
Tomorrow – A different perspective on commands.