If You Love Me

by Scarlett Stough

"If you love me, you will obey what I command,' Jesus told his disciples. These words are preserved for Jesus' disciples down through the ages; we are his disciples if we practice his teachings (John 8:31-32). Those commands are not hard to understand, as one humorist said, "It's not the scriptures I don't understand that bother me; it's the ones I do." Isn't this true of most of us? We struggle with forgiving those who betray us; we refuse to love our enemy. Surely, God did not mean for us to go that far? Did he? God did. He loved his enemies; he forgave those who betrayed him. He isn't asking anything of us, he has not done himself.

Jesus did not teach anything contrary to the law of God, his instruction manual on how to live well; he explained how to apply it. We've all discovered applying his teachings takes more than stubborn will power. Jesus himself said it takes a "new birth"(John 3:5-8). Many quote John 3:16 leaving people to assume intellectual belief in the fact of Jesus relieves them of a responsibility to live differently than before that change of mind. Not according to Jesus:

Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 7:21

Even in civil law, if a convicted criminal is pardoned, in his life of freedom he is expected to abide by the law of the land. Why would we think God’s pardon would  be any different? His grace is intended to give each one of us a fresh start each day to practice living God’s way instead of a "me first" and "who-cares-about-anyone-else" attitude and actions.

We are in God's debt. He gave us life. We owe him, and this is a debt that cannot be repaid, ever. Any good we do or evil we resist doing isn't about "earning" God’s favor. He thought we were worth his suffering so we could be restored to a life worth living.

In our social and family relationships, we love people who love us. This is emotional, not just of the mind. Parents who love and express love to their children will have children who grow up to know how to love both the parents who raised them and their own children. When we realize how great God's love is for each one of us, his love will lead us to love God with the kind of longing expressed in this Psalm:

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

Psalm 42:1-2

Volume 17 Issue 04 | Notes from Nancy | Women in Christ Commentary | Bible Study Guide | Abundance of the Heart | Exhortation |

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