“If you love me….” (John 14:15)
We do love the Lord, right? We would love to express our love to Him in His own love-language, right?
We love Him because He first loved us, right? (That’s I John 4:19).
The question then is “How exactly do we express our love to Him?” With flowers and candy? With huge gifts? Quick prayers before bedtime? Maybe if I’m baptized and join the right church? Should I tithe? Should I read the Bible through? Go to Sunday School?
What does He want? What would make Jesus feel loved?
The Old Testament answer to the question…
The prophet Micah was wrestling with this very question when he asked, “With what shall I come before the Lord? And bow myself before the High God?”
That is to say, “What possible thing could I do on earth that would please God in Heaven?”
How can pitiful earthlings ever possibly do anything that would please the Creator and Lord of the universe, He who owns it all in the first place?
Micah considers some possibilities: “Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings? Perhaps with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or ten thousand rivers of oil?”
Or, if you want to get pagan about it, “Shall I give my firstborn for my transgressions? The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
Child sacrifice was considered by God the most abominable of all sins. Scripture refers to this as a sacrifice to the god Molech, and when Israelites do it Heaven itself is horrified. God says, “…which I did not command or speak, nor did it come into my mind” (Jeremiah 19:5). The very idea!
Then, Micah answered his own question: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:6-8)
Nothing wrong with that. It’s a great statement, as attested by the large number of t-shirts that statement adorns even now.
How Jesus answered the question…
After all, He ought to know what it means to love Him. As Gary Chapman has pointed out in his “5 Love Languages” books, a person’s love language should not be imposed on them by another, but simply listen to what they tell you. You are the authority on your love language.
And so Jesus answered the question. Five times, in fact. And each time He said a variation of the same thing.
One: If you love Me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15).
Two. He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me. (John 14:21)
Three. If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word…. (John 14:23)
Four. He who does not love Me does not keep My words. (John 14:24)
Five. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love. (John 15:10).
And one similar to all of these, “You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14).
Anyone see a trend here?
Three points to clarify and emphasize…
- The Lord will accept tears of love, humility, gratitude, and devotion, as we see in Luke 7 and John 12. Nothing wrong with that. But when we stand up again, He expects us to walk differently, to be devoted to obeying Him. And the point of this is to end forever this weak, limp expression of love that says, “I know I’m not living for the Lord, but He knows I love Him.” No, He does not. In fact, He says you do not love Him if you are not obeying Him. Period. It’s as simple as that.
- When Jesus said we are to “keep my commandments” He does not mean the Ten Commandments. (I’m always amazed to find people believing that’s what Jesus had in mind.) He is talking about the full body of His teachings, “all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). By the way, nowhere does Scripture call those ten commandments of Exodus 20 “The Ten Commandments.” They’re called “words.”
- Obedience is the name of the game. Here’s what the Apostle Paul had to say about it: “For this purpose I wrote to you, that I might know the proof of you, whether you are obedient in all things” (2 Corinthians 2:9). As our Lord said, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord and do not the things which I have commanded you?” (Luke 6:46). Over and over in the gospels, we read where Jesus says things like, “He who hears my words and does them….” (See Matthew 7:21-27 for starters.)
The feelings of love are good and we enjoy them. But they are not very dependable indicators of anything. They can be set off by many a false impulse.
What most of us have discovered over the years is that when we obey the Lord, the feelings follow.
But whether the feelings are there or not, He expects and desires our obedience.
Sort of like the way we go to work or to school on a Monday morning, right?