This Demonstrates Love For God
How do we know if we really love Jesus? The Bible tells us.
Our love is demonstrated by what we consistently do and don’t do. We know this because Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). And the apostle John echoed Jesus when he wrote, “This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments” (1 John 5:3).
God wants us to submit to His Ways and serve what we treasure. But why? Why must I do as God says? Can’t I have my own free will? I’m an adult now. I don’t want someone telling me what to do!
Does that sound like the world we know? Imagining our logic as we might receive this statement from a 2-year-old, we would perhaps think, “She doesn’t know the background information. She does not know you have to work for money and count money to make your way. She doesn’t know she will not be recognized legally to rent her own apartment. She doesn’t know she has to buy and drive a car to go to work and establish and then maintain her home. And so on and on it goes.
WE are that “she.” We are like little children telling The Infinite how to run the universe. God once spoke sharply to Job. Job: 38, 4 and 21 most come to mind. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the universe? You are so old and wise. I’m sure you know.
Do we understand God’s plans and calculations? Do we have enough information to make carefully informed decisions about the future of humanity and even the entire vast universe? Of course not.
Neither Jesus nor John meant that obeying Jesus’s commandments is the same thing as love. What they meant was that love for God, by its very nature, produces the consistent characteristic of “the obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5). So, on earth, love for Christ tends to look like obeying Christ.
Now, love, faith, and obedience are not the same things.
- Love is our cherishing or treasuring Christ,
- faith is our trusting Christ, and
- obedience is our doing what Christ says.
The essence of each is different. Bad belief systems, like dead orthodoxy and legalism to the infinite degree, yield a troubled people.
We should keep the commandments of The Christ, with some wisdom and thought, because we love Him, Love God’s Law, and are understanding the INTENTION of the law.
We love The Christ because we trust him 1 Peter 1:8
We trust The Christ because we have learned faith, assurance that His Way is the right, most effective, safest, happiest, best Way. James 2:17
We cannot love Christ if we live in persistent, conscious disobedience to him. 1 John 1:6; and Luke 6:46
This is an elegant, devastatingly simple intention. God made us to serve what we treasure. How we love ourselves is evident by how we serve ourselves, for good (Ephesians 5:29) or for evil (2 Timothy 3:2).
How we love our spouse or children or friends or pastors or co-workers or pets is evident by how we serve or neglect them.
Whether we love God or money is evident by how we serve or neglect one or the other (Luke 16:13).
In the long run, we cannot fake who or what we really serve.
It’s true that we sometimes can hide our feelings and behaviors from human view. We can even go into a psychological denial. We can lie to ourselves so often we believe our own lies. But God exposes the truth about us in His right timing – generally just when it will teach us the most powerfully.
This is what the parable of the good Samaritan was about, which nearly all of us are granted the opportunity to live out in different ways and at different times. The priest, the Levite, and the Samaritan each showed their true beliefs by their feelings and behaviors in the way they responded to the injured man (Luke 10:31–35).
Luke 10:29-35 New International Version (NIV)
…so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.
31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[a] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
The “Samaritan” was an “untouchable.” The High Priest should have shown the most forgiveness and kindness but only displayed disdain and told himself he was right and keeping the law. The Levite, also among the highest priestly caste should have been more kindly and helpful but he passed on because he didn’t want to be involved. So it was left to the poorest man, the untouchable social outcast, the Samaritan to do something. He knew better than the priest and the Levite how to behave and he did what is right before God even though it cost him some time, effort and money. Did the priest and Levite forget they should do service to those in need? That would be unlikely. Jesus had told a story that reversed the normal order of things.
“We know what love is by what love does.”
It’s also what the story of the rich young man in Mark 10 was about. He seemed at least uncertain that he had displayed love for God properly.
Though he thought he had been obedient all of his life (Mark 10:19–20), something was troubling him — which is why he asked his question of Jesus.
But Jesus saw the man clearly and with one sentence drew everyone’s attention to it: “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Mark 10:21). Then it was clear: the man could not obey Jesus because he loved and trusted money more than Jesus. He said he wanted to give the control of his life to God but when he was told how to do so he suddenly had no real trust in God.
We see this love for God versus what our heart is really intent upon.
The issue is true obedience or disobedience to God.
- We see it in Cain with Abel (Genesis 4),
- Abraham with Isaac (Genesis 22),
- Reuben with Bilhah (Genesis 35),
- Joseph with Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39),
- David with Saul in the cave (1 Samuel 24),
- David with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11),
- Judas with his silver (Matthew 26),
- Peter with his denials (John 18),
- Peter with the Sanhedrin (Acts 4),
- Ananias and Sapphira with others’ admiration (Acts 5), and
- Demas with Thessalonica (2 Timothy 4) — just to name a few.
By This We Know Love
But the most important place in Scripture (or anywhere else) we see love demonstrated through faith-empowered obedience is in Jesus:
- By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us (1 John 3:16).
- God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
- Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).
Supreme love was made evident in Jesus’s death on the cross, where “the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2) pursued his, and our full, eternal joy (John 15:11) through his obedience in the midst of the greatest suffering (Hebrews 5:8). God displayed his love for The Right Ways and for You and Me for everyone to witness. Jesus did not merely “love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). “By this we know love.” And by this, we knew He was the master of love as we had never known it.
“How do we know if we love Jesus? By what we consistently (not perfectly) do and don’t do.”
How do we know if we love Jesus? By what we consistently (not perfectly) do and don’t do.
All lovers of Jesus keenly know we don’t love him perfectly. “We all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2), and “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).
But “if we say we have fellowship with [Jesus] while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 John 1:6).
We know what love is by our demonstration through actions. All lovers of Jesus have at least some time in their lives resisted walking His Way. But at last, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we turn our steps. We return to God. We determine we shall not again be consciously disobedient to him.
We live with corruption all around us. The governments of this world are so corrupt, men ambitious for big money want a government position just so they can enjoy dishonestly gotten gains! That such behavior hurts individuals, even destroys larger areas of society, ruins careers and lives mean nothing to them.
We live with corruption between non-governmental individuals too, as we can easily see. All around the world boys tell girls “I love you” stories and then disappear when she needs him most. What happens to her, her life, plans, career, if she raises her baby alone, or worse aborts this precious life because it is one of those “inconvenient truths?” What then does the boy say about “love.” How can he define and demonstrate it?
Our faith-empowered obedience in public and private places is the God-destined evidence of our love for Jesus and The Heavenly Infinite Father. The road up to the Heavenly clouds is steep, hot, rocky, painful, but it leads to a far better future than does the broad grassy green highways down-hill to the gates of Disaster.
Now think about that and about the real meanings of Love.
Written by Stephen Newdell with Inspirational Notes from an article by Jon Bloom author, board chair, and co-founder of Desiring God.org