Love, Obedience, Joy
Read John 15:9-13 (ESV)
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
According to today’s passage, how did Jesus define abiding in love? What is the natural result of abiding in His love this way?
How do you define love? The world defines it in many different ways. To some, it is a feeling of affection for someone or something. It can range from a warm tenderness that we feel for family and friends to a passionate desire that we feel for our spouse. We even use the word to describe our favorite things. We love bacon. We love coffee. We love football.
Other people define love as a verb. For example, we show our love to our kids when we patiently care for them. We demonstrate our love for our spouse by remaining faithful to them. We show that we care for our friends by helping them, supporting them, and praying for them.
In today’s verse, Jesus explained what it means to abide, or remain, in His love. He defined it as obeying His commandments. But He didn’t just expect us to do as He said. He was also the perfect role model for us. He perfectly kept the Father’s commandments which was a testament to the perfect love He has for the Father.
You see, it’s not enough to love Jesus the same way we love bacon or coffee. We aren’t merely big fans of Jesus the way we are fans of our favorite sports team—even if we are die-hard fans.
I see a lot of statements on social media like, “I love Jesus but ____”. You can fill in that blank with the support of any kind of sin imaginable. From things like, “I love Jesus but I swear a little” to things like “I love Jesus but I support abortion.” When people make statements like that, it seems like they may be fans of Jesus. They may admire some of His teachings. But they betray their true feelings about Jesus when they go against the very things He commanded. Jesus said that we don’t really love Him if we don’t seek to obey Him.
We can’t call ourselves followers of Christ if we go against His design for marriage and family. We can’t call ourselves followers of Christ if we support the death of life that He has created. We are being disingenuous if we say that we love Jesus but our lives are full of idols that we have created and worship. In his first letter, John wrote: “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 3:6-7). If we say we abide in Christ, then we walk in the light and repent from our sins, rather than embrace them. “No one who abides in him keeps on sinning” (1 John 3:6).
One of the commandments that Jesus gave us to obey is to love others the way that He has loved us. How has He loved us? Sacrificially. Remember the context of today’s passage. Jesus was telling His disciples goodbye. He was about to die in our place!
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s good and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:16-18). We obey Jesus’ command and show others His love when we love like He does. There is no greater love than sacrificial love.
Now, did you catch the blessing of this obedience? Jesus said that if we abide in His love by obeying His commands then we will experience His joy. Not just a little joy. But joy to the full! It makes sense. Sin and rebellion only lead to heartbreak and sorrow. But love leads to obedience which leads to joy to the max.
Lord, thank You for loving me so much that You were willing to lay down Your life for me. Help me to walk in obedience to You and love others the way that You loved me. What a blessing that my joy may be full in You! Amen.
Reveal: Loving others the way that Jesus loved us can reveal the heart of God to people who don’t know Him. Find a way to demonstrate the love of Christ to someone this week.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford