Monday, November 7, 2011

Obedience Equals Love

"This is love for God: to obey His commands. And His commands are not burdensome." - 1 John 5:3 (NIV)

Obedience - is it really all it takes to show God my love for Him? According to this verse...Yes! Being obedient to God is accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior and following Him in being baptized. Done. So, I'm good, right? Nothing else I need to do, right? WRONG!

There is much more to being obedient than accepting Jesus as my Savior. That's the first and most important step but there are many others. I know about the 10 Commandments: I shall have no other gods before Him, I shall not have idols, I shall not misuse the name of the Lord, I shall remember the Sabbath and keep it holy, I shall honor my father and mother, I shall not murder, I shall not commit adultery, I shall not lie and I shall not covet anything belonging to my neighbors, friends or family. (Exodus 20:3-17 NIV) Jesus also clearly stated what the greatest commandment is in Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV): "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Okay, I understand all of this. These commandments aren't always easy but John was right when he said they're "not burdensome". These are things I can be obedient to God in.

Then Jesus ups the ante a bit. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3 - Matthew 7:27 NIV), He clarifies and instructs me on just what the "Law" and being obedient to it really means. When God commanded me not to commit murder, He also meant that I must not be angry with anyone. I can't be angry with ANYONE?!! (vs. 5:21-22) Whew, tough one, especially since anger is my biggest pitfall. Being obedient just got a little harder. When God commanded me not to commit adultery, He also meant that I mustn't look lustfully at another person or divorce my spouse. (vs. 5:27-32) Well, I haven't divorced my spouse but I have to admit I've salivated over other good looking men a time or two! Uh oh...more obedience trouble. When God commanded me not to have any other gods before Him and not have any idols, He meant that my treasures, the "things" I love the most, should be stored up in Heaven and not on this earth. (vs. 6:19-24) My home, my bank account, my job, my furniture, my vehicle, my family and friends - my "stuff" - are not to be more important than God in my life. Unfortunately, sometimes they are. Strike three in my being obedient. Then there are the other commands that Jesus gave me in His Sermon: love my enemies, turn the other cheek, don't seek revenge against those who wrong me AND forgive them (what?!) (vs. 5:38-48 & 6:14-15), don't seek accolades when I help someone in need (vs. 6:1-4), pray in secret (when it's specifically just between me and God) and fast in secret (vs. 6:5-13 & 6:16-18), don't make oaths - simply let "yes" be "yes" and "no" be "no" (vs. 5:33-37), don't worry or be anxious (big trouble in the obedience department for me with this one!!) (vs. 6:25-34), don't judge others (oh man, another black mark for me!) (vs 7:1-6), and watch out for false teachers, preachers and prophets, which means I must be studying my Bible to know what is false and what is true (vs. 7:15-23). Wow...this obedience thing sure seems to be burdensome.

It's not, though. I can do this. I can be obedient and show God I love Him. It can't just be in my actions; it has to be from the heart. I can't just say it, I have to feel it and show it. And on the days when I mess up - which is every day!! - God shows His love for me with His mercy, grace and forgiveness. Even though He forgives me, He still expects me to follow His commands: "Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called the least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:19 NIV). I intend to practice these commands, to continue to learn to be obedient to them. Will I stumble? Oh yeah!! Will I get back up and move forward? Count on it! I want to show God just how much I love Him and he has given me the instructions on how to do so. Obedience is God's love language!!

"Our Lord told His disciples that love and obedience were organically united. The final test of love is obedience." - A. W. Tozer

Dear Heavenly Father, I desire to be obedient to You so that You will know how much I love You. Lead me in being obedient to You and to Your commands, dear Lord. May not only my actions and words be obedient to You but my heart also. I want to thank You for Your mercy, grace and forgiveness when my disobedience rears its ugly head. When that happens, please help me to get back on track in obedience to You quickly. I place my life and faith in You today and each day forward. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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