John 14:21&23 – “Whoever 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 reveal myself to him… 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.”
Real Love Obeys God
Too many times we try to separate from each other various aspects of Christianity. We emphasize some and deemphasize others according to or reacting against the way we were raised. But doing that kind of thing only hurts us and skews our understanding of the faith. We must let Scripture emphasize what it will and live accordingly. In this passage, Jesus clearly emphasizes two things that should never be separated; love and obedience. God has ever demanded that we be love and obey Him. The first and greatest command is this, “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. (Mark 12:30)”. The kind of love that God wants is not merely some soft emotional thing, but a committed and sacrificial love not unlike the original idea of marriage. It is this kind of love that Jesus displayed on the cross. He showed not only His love for us, but He also demonstrated His love as the Son for the Father by being obedient even unto death (Philippians 2:8). Emotions ebb and flow from one moment to the next and cannot be the basis of our relationship with God. Real love is a decision and a commitment and you cannot commit to God without obeying Him. Anyone who says, “I love God,” and yet never obeys Him is a liar and is self-deceived. Real love will always manifest itself in obedience to God. For this saying is true, “Actions speak louder than words.”
Conversely, Scripture never advocates action and obedience without love. Indeed, Paul says, “…if I give myself over to the flames and have not love it profits me nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:3)”. Jesus Himself said to the church of Ephesus, “…I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance… yet I hold this against you; you have forsaken your first love… repent and do the things you did at first… (Revelation 2:2&4-5)”. Love must be the motivation for everything we do – not necessarily always loving feelings, but a commitment to follow Christ no matter what. Anything else is legalism, and that is the last things that God wants. For God cries out about Israel, “these people honor Me with their lips but their hearts are far from Me. (Isaiah 29:13)”. He wants our love in every sense; emotion, commitment, and obedience; “heart, soul, mind, and strength.”
Jesus promised to those who truly love Him, “I too will love (you) and reveal Myself to (you).” While it is true that God loves us all, there is a certain sense in which He loves those who wholeheartedly follow Him. Elsewhere, Scripture calls it delight, “the Lord’s delight is in those who fear Him and hope in His unfailing love. (Psalm 147:11)”. God has a special love for those who truly follow and obey Him and to them He has promised to reveal Himself – to make Himself known to them and to manifest His power, presence, love, and faithfulness in their lives.
Point to Ponder
Do you tend to think that you can love God without obeying Him? Can you see what a shallow idea of love that really is? Jesus is as clear as possible when He says, “the one who loves Me will obey…”. Or do you labor under the opposite error, that of legalism? Are you trying to obey God while keeping your heart from Him? Remember, we are commanded to love Him with our whole heart along with everything else.
Let us pray, “Lord Jesus, thank You for coming down to us to show and be for us the way, truth, and life (John 14:6). We know that every word You say is true, and so may we take Your words to heart right now. God, forgive us for the times when we thought that we could love You and not obey You – times when we have used Your grace as an excuse to sin. Help us to remember that we have died to sin (Romans 6:1-3). Father, forgive us also for the times that we have though that we could honor You through rituals and laws but still keep our hearts from You. Help us to love and obey You as we should, for You alone deserve it. In determining to love and obey You as we should, we claim Your promise that You will reveal Yourself to us and make Your home with us. Lord, manifest Your presence in our lives and to our hearts. Help us to know You that we may be like You. In the name of Jesus our Lord we pray. Amen.”