In John 14:15, Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Here, He is uniting love with obedience. “If you love me you will do what I am asking of you.” “If you love me you will value my teachings and follow them.” “If you love me you will obey the laws set forth by my Father.”
So, what comes first, the love or the obedience? Jesus shows us here that obedience is born out of love. If you do this, then you will do that. If you love me, you will keep my commandments. Complete obedience to God can only be fully realized if complete love precedes it.
Jesus asks in Luke 6:46, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you?” In other words, “How can you claim to follow me if you don’t obey my words?” “How can you say that you believe in me if my commandments mean little to you?” Love is what separates the faithful from those giving lip service. Love always comes before obedience.
Throughout life, you will be given many opportunities to be obedient to God’s command. Sometimes this will be easy, other times it might even put you in danger. Because the commandments the world lays on you are often at odds with the wishes of God for you, doing the right thing in God’s eyes might bring you various forms of persecution from the world. It is a test of wills. It is a test of love.
In Acts 5, Peter and the other Apostles were preaching the Gospel and doing many signs and wonders on Solomon’s Portico, a porch located on the eastern side of the Temple’s Outer Court in Jerusalem. Many people came to faith because of this and this made the Chief Priest and some Sadducees to become “filled with jealousy,” so they had them arrested.
They were locked up and told to quit talking in the name of Jesus. That night an angel of the Lord freed them, and they went right back to Solomon’s Portico to preach as they had been doing before. Again, they were arrested and the High Priest reminded them, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us” (Acts 5:28). Peter and the other Apostles immediately answered them saying, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
Being obedient to God isn’t always easy. It often forces you out of your comfort zone and it requires more from you then a superficial faith. Only the strength of God born out of love can drive you to do what God’s commands require of you. The rewards for that obedience, however, far outweigh any worldly struggles that may come, “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land” (Isaiah 1:19).
So, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He has called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:14). Practice obedience and trust in the Lord’s calling on you. Transcend worldliness for holiness. Be obedient to God and do your best to follow His every command. As a child of God, it is what is expected of you. Be like the Psalmist in Psalm 119:30 saying, “I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set Your rules before me.”
Obedience will never be easy in a world ruled by sin, but God has given us all we need to comply. It is our choice to make and our road to take. We can continue to deny Him by living our lives outside His commands, or we can finally surrender to Him out of love and allow Him to direct us to glory. Come to love your Lord with such fervor that you cannot help but trust in His commandments. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us enough to give us guidance through Your Commandments. Instill in us, through Your Holy Spirit, the love required to bravely follow you before the world. Forgive us for falling short of obedience and make us wholly Yours. Amen.