If ye love me, keep my commandments.
It is not for duty’s sake, then, but for Jesus’ sake that we must obey, and sometimes that means doing hard things or uncomfortable things. But when our love for Him is burning bright, obedience takes on a different hue. It is not about how we feel about something, but our devotion to our Lord that can cause us to, without question, say, “Yes, Lord.” It is all about “not my will, but Thine,” and love is at the heart of that. It has to be, or else we will fail or give up or stop caring or allow our selfishness to get in the way. In obedience, out of love for Him, we can forgive the hard-to-forgive, leave something precious behind, step into battle, offer a sacrifice.
Because love is sacrifice, and love takes self out of the equation. And when self is removed, all kinds of things are possible. With self out of the way, there is more room for God to work. And when love is the driving force, there is an inexhaustible supply, and with love behind something, any obstacle can be overcome. When love is empowering obedience, the stakes are too high to fail. And when we love Jesus in this way, we are only following the example He already set for us.
Jesus is not a stern dictator demanding our undying allegiance, but He is an example of humility and submission. His invitation has always simply been, “Come and follow.” Love was at the heart of Christ’s obedience, and it must be at the heart of ours, as well. It’s not out of fear, then, but to honor Him. It’s not because we feel we must or else, but because we want to. And hopefully it’s not to gain anything for ourselves, but to glorify Him, exalt Him, lift high His holy name, and in so doing compel others to lay down their burdens and put on the easy yoke of Jesus.
We always seek to please the ones we love. And if a genuine love for Christ exists in our hearts, there will be nothing we won’t be willing to do for Him. What He asks of us will not seem grievous. What He expects of us will be a joy to give. Let’s continue on faithfully in obedience to our Lord and Savior. And if we find ourselves growing rebellious or going astray, we may need to re-evaluate our relationship with Jesus and find out whether our love has grown cold and we no longer care about keeping His commandments. If we’re only obeying for duty’s sake, something will come along that will draw us away. But if love is our motive, we’ll be able to endure for the long run.