Day 5: An Act of Love
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. …” —Jesus
John 14:15 ESV
It was several years ago now, when she challenged me to find one word for the year. One word to use as a focus in my relationship with God. One word for Him to teach me through. Reluctantly I asked Him for a word and He answered: OBEDIENCE.
Whew! What a heavy word. I accepted it with trepidation and a little guilt, wondering if He found me a disappointment when it came to obeying. Because I really try to.
As I sought Scripture to go with my word, He led me to 2 John 6: And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands… This verse reminded me of a prayer I prayed early in my walk. One I prayed for years: Grow me to love you with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength. And here it was, obedience is love! Exactly what I had been striving to achieve for so long. A concept I hadn’t put together. My striving to obey was being received by Him as love.
That year with one word, I learned to see obedience as a privilege, an act of friendship and love. It’s an invitation from the Creator to work alongside Him as His friend.
A friend loves at all times…
Proverbs 17:17 ESV
Much of my past obedience was driven by fear. I didn’t understand how God would handle my disobedience… so I obeyed. Not from a heart full of love, but a heart of fear. Holy Spirit has gently shown me another way. Faith is trusting God’s grace in the face of my disobedience. He’s not there to ridicule, or shout, “I told you so!” He doesn’t withhold His love or turn away. His discipline is so much more. It gently brings me to a knowledge of my sin and in turn leads me closer to Him. Today, my obedience is not motivated by fear, but love. I obey because I love Him… in fact, I’m consumed by Him.
Jesus basically said, If you love Me, you’ll obey Me.
Obey. Obedience. They seem hard words to our ears. Words of control and submission. Overbearing tyrants come to mind. Our broken spirits respond to these words by saying, If you love me, you’ll let me do what I want. If you love me, you won’t tell me what to do.
But just as we are learning about trusting God and His heart for creation, we need to learn to question our initial reaction to His truth. Even when Jesus says, If you love Me, you’ll obey Me. He cannot lie, and He is never wrong. He is speaking truth.
Jesus modeled loving obedience with His Father. He obeyed in all things, confident of His Father’s love for Him and His love for His Father. As Jesus’s followers we are called to do the same.
We’ve all known this aspect of love to one degree or another. As small children we wanted to please our parents, we loved them, so we readily did what they said. Perhaps, we’ve been in love with someone we wanted to make happy. We did whatever they said, even if we knew it was wrong and wasn’t what we wanted to do. As adults, these past experiences may be the very things that taught us obedience tied to love can lead to destructive behavior. Manipulation. Deception. Not everyone’s trustworthy. Overly critical parents. Self-interested lovers. These make the heart cry out: If you love me, you’ll let me do what I want!
God is not a man who can lie or change His mind (Numbers 2:9). He is not self-centered. He is love, which the Bible defines as completely other-centered (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). As our Creator, He knows best. He calls us to obedience because He created us, loves us and knows exactly how we need to live to be secure, satisfied, and joyful. He knows what He created us to do. As a loving Father He calls us to obey because it is for our good.
Recognizing God’s love for us should fill us with love for Him. His Word says we are to show our love for Him by obeying His commands, doing what He says. He loves us. We love Him. So we trust His goodness and purpose through obedience.
And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. —2John 6 NIV
In your journal write these portions of the verse above: this is love… obedience to his commands… his command is that you walk in love.
Do you see it? Obedience is love. When we walk in obedience to His commands, we love. His commands lead us in the way of love, teaching us how to love Him and others. The more we obey His way, the more we love. Being perfect, He shows the way of true love. Not love marred by the world, by sin, but love as it was meant to be. His love.
His love is self-sacrificing, which we clearly see in Jesus. He loved us to death. His way is hard, it’s narrow, hard to choose when our flesh screams, If You loved me You’d give me what I want! To obey we have to come to terms with our skewed definition of love and our misunderstanding of His love for us. He will call us to do hard things. Things we won’t feel like doing, things we may not initially receive as love.
Remember, what He calls us to do comes from a Heart of love. We express our love for Him by obeying. When it feels too hard, think of Jesus on the cross. When obedience pains you, consider it an opportunity to give Jesus a hug. A spiritual hug of love.
Because He loves us and His commands lead us to love in all areas of our life, there is a real upside to this whole obedience thing. When we obey, we find ourselves a blessing to Him and to others. And what an awesome blessing to receive… the blessing of being a blessing.
Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and the one who waters will himself be watered.
Proverbs 11:25 ESV
Choose love. Choose to obey.
Talk It Out
Talk it over with yourself:
How have obedience and love worked their ways into your life? Do you see them as compatible? or at odds with one another? Explain.
Talk it over with God:
Ask God to help you see His commands on your life as an opportunity to love Him and others. Ask Him to bless you with a heart ready to love.
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
1 John 4:16 NIV
Exercise Your Faith
What two acts of love have you encountered today from others?
Give thanks for their obedience.
You know what to do. No prompt. Recite or write the Obey memory verse. Then do the same with the verses we memorized for Believe, Pray, and Trust.