By: Pastor Travis Stamper
“Our Lord told His disciples that love and obedience were organically united. The final test of love is obedience.” – A. W. Tozer
There is a dangerous belief that has seemed to gain some steam over the last few years. It’s the belief that you can love God without obeying Him. It stems from the idea that God will save you no matter what you do or how you live as long as you believe in Him. At this extreme, God’s Word doesn’t really have to be obeyed, it’s just more of a suggestion. This belief system says if you feel like you love God and you feel like you are good, how you live isn’t important. This way of thinking leads to a belief that you don’t have to (some would even argue that you shouldn’t) change for God, and anyone who says otherwise is legalistic.
While there are many passages that stand directly against this point of view (like Matthew 7:21 and James 1:19), I want to show how this view misses the point entirely. The truth about obedience for the Christian shouldn’t be that we “have to” obey God, but rather that we “want to” obey Him.
Let’s use marriage for an example. When I got married, a lot of things changed. My money was no longer my own. I couldn’t just go to Cabela’s and spend an entire paycheck (yes, I actually did this a few times while I was single…), but rather I have to share it. Also, I can’t just get home any time I want anymore. I have to communicate. We have a family. I have responsibilities. I don’t always get to do what I want to do because I want what’s best for my wife. Some people might view these things as restrictions but I don’t. Do you know why? Because I love my wife. I want to have a great relationship with her. Marrying Alyssa meant not doing a lot of things I used to do, and I’ve also had to start doing things I didn’t before I was married (like cleaning toilets…), but I don’t mind because my love for Alyssa is greater than my love or dislike for those other things.
Now think about your relationship with God. 1 John 5:3 says “Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.”
Is your love for God greater than your love for the things that would keep you from Him? With God, it’s not “obey me and then I’ll love you” but rather God loves us first, while we are still in sin, and He invites us into a relationship with Him. But for us to walk with Him in new life, there are things we have to leave behind, and some new things we have to begin doing. This doesn’t flow out of a weary obligation, but rather out of our love for God. Just as Jesus loved us so much that He came as a baby to give Himself up for us, are we willing to give up some things because of our love for Him?
Parents: Ask your kids to name some things in their life that they either do or don’t do just because they love Jesus.