What Does It Take To Obey?
A daily devotion for July 16th
21Whoever 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 show myself to him."
22Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?"
23Jesus replied, "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. 24He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
25"All this I have spoken while still with you. 26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
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 show myself to him. (John 14:21)
To read this,
Obey Me, and you will love Me, produces a mechanical, dry Christianity with no warmth or joy or glory. But what Jesus says is,
If you love Me, you will obey Me. It is easy to do, not difficult. Notice that it is not,
If you love Me, you will have to keep My commandments. No, it is cause and effect:
If you love Me, the result is that you will keep My commandments. That is the secret of all proper behavior in the Christian experience. The proof of our love is obedience.
If it takes love to obey, what produces love? That is the issue. If you see a Christian disobeying Christ or you are tempted to disobey, what is it that will turn you around and make you obey? It is love. How do you produce love? What will make you love Him? This is what ties together verses 20 and 21. It is that basic secret of our identity that creates love--the Spirit in us, releasing to us the love of Jesus, awakens love from us in return.
Remember how John puts it in his first letter:
We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). Remembering this awakens love. Or, as Paul puts it in Romans 5,
God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us (Romans 5:5). Therefore, the way to produce love is to remember who you are, to whom you belong, and who He is--His death, His resurrection, and His unity with you, His present indwelling life. You cannot remind yourself of that without experiencing a renewed sense of His love and feeling gratitude to Him for who He is and what He has done in your life. When that love begins to flow, then you are being motivated to obey.
Much of the mythology of the ancient world was based upon biblical truth; some of our modern fables reflect that truth as well. For example, no one ever expected anything out of the ordinary from Clark Kent, that mild-mannered newspaper reporter. But whenever there was a sudden demand for action far beyond the ability of mere humans, he always stepped into the nearest phone booth, stripped off his conservative business suit, and emerged, complete with bulging muscles and spectacular costume, as Superman--able to do what otherwise he could not do.
That is exactly what the Word of God is teaching us. We are to retire to the
phone booth of our identity with Christ, to remind ourselves of who we are, to whom we belong, and who is within us, and immediately we find love and motivation and power available to us. We are able to do what otherwise we could not do. This is what our Lord is teaching His disciples at this moment:
If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
Lord, teach me to retreat to that place where I can renew my mind with the realities of my identity in Christ--that I am loved with an everlasting love, filled with Your Spirit, and able to obey by the power at work in me.
Life Application: If it takes love to obey, what produces love? Why is our identity in Christ so interwoven with finding love and the exercise of its power?
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.