“If you love me, you will obey what I command . . . 21Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” 22Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” 23Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” (John 14:15,21-24)This passage can be read on the surface and you just think, yeah, that sounds nice. I love Him and I keep His commands . . .
On the other hand, if you really dive in, it can be a wee bit intimidating -- you mean, if I don't keep His commands, then I really don't love Him? Or, if I keep His commands, no matter the motivation, then I love Him?
Let's dive in and keep your eyes open so we can figure this out, OK?
Jesus actually says this four times here; I kinda think He was trying to make a point, and I really want to make certain I understand it correctly! It's clear that He is linking obedience to His commands as a sign, or a proof of the genuine love of His followers.
It's really important, though, to look at what He DIDN'T say -- He did not say, "If you keep my commandments, then you love me." That could mean that love is flowing from my obedience, and that could be a flawed reasoning.
Let me show you an example. Recently I have become much more careful to use my seat belt when I drive into the town near me. Why? Well, I almost received a ticket for not wearing it -- I actually had it under my arm instead of over my shoulder, because I am short, and the belt really bothers me if I wear it "correctly." OK, I am more careful about wearing it the right way now. So I am obeying the law, right? But my obedience has not made me "love" the deputy that stopped me late at night and scared me to pieces. Nor has my obedience made me "love" the town that says he can stop and ticket me for not wearing it.
Truthfully, my obedience to the law hasn't even made me agree with the law, although it's written "to protect" me. I saw nothing wrong with my shifting the belt for my comfort, and since I was going very slowly in a town with very low speed limits, I feel I was in no imminent danger. I simply don't think my opinion is worth a hefty ticket fee. (Grin)
Jesus said, "if you love me, then you will obey my commandments." In other words, love produces obedience. It is possible to obey Jesus' words and not love Him, but it is impossible to love Him and not obey Him.
As parents, we know that our kiddos will obey us for many different reasons. Sometimes they do what they're told because they are out to get something that they want. (Really? Those little schemers...) Sometimes they obey because they're afraid of being punished. (Yep, it happens.) Sometimes they obey us parents simply because they must; they have no choice. (Grumble, grumble.) But you and I both know that it's wonderful when they obey simply because they love us!
So let's look at ourselves. Look slowly, and thoughtfully. And honestly.
Do we obey Jesus because we are hoping for the reward of heaven?
Do we obey Him because we are scared of being punished?
Or do we obey Him because we are forced to; we have no choice, like the self-righteous Pharisees?
Lastly, do we obey Jesus simply because we love Him?
We need to be very careful that we don't fool ourselves. Think about your motivations, your reasons. Do we really know the motives of our own hearts?
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can
understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
Let's study this passage and think about these reasons for obedience. Let's see if we can apply this to our lives . . .