How often do you link love and obedience? I know for me it seems like an odd combination. And yet, that is precisely what God does (repeatedly) when He talks about our love of Him. Jesus stated it clearly when he said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15)
I don’t always see obedience as the primary indicator, or barometer, of my love for God. I usually prefer to count on my emotions. How do I feel toward God? After all, love is an emotion, right? We often think of love in terms of how we feel about someone or something. I love my wife, I love my mother, I love my children, I love my sports team, I love chocolate (okay, this is starting to hit too close to home…). Oh, and tack on, I love God… Huh?
What happens, though, when your emotions shift or dull? What happens when life kicks you in the teeth and you are scratching your head wondering, Where is God? In these moments, or seasons, we won’t necessarily feel like loving God, even if we believe in our minds and hearts it is true. Therefore, our love for God must be expressed through obedience.
This makes sense if you think about it from a parent’s perspective. Do we think our children truly understand love if it is only about a feeling, or do we give them opportunities to express their love by “obeying our commands?”
“Ethan, it is time for you to clean up your room.”
“Dad, I love you, but I don’t really feel like cleaning it up right now. See ya.”
Does Ethan really love me (or even understand the true meaning of love) or is he simply using words to appeal to my emotions, in hopes that the command will just go away? Unfortunately, I think this is how we often engage God.
“Jonathan, do not lie.”
“God, I love you, but I could get a bigger tax return if I just don’t report half my income. And, of course, I’ll give a tenth of it back to you!”
Is that really loving God? Not so much.
What are the commands that God has given that you are unwilling to obey? In each case, you are essentially displaying hatred for God, not love. Let us become those willing to “practice what we preach.” If we say we love God, let’s do what He says…