Devotional Thought for This Morning
Obedience in Love
1 John 5:1-5 (ESV)
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
One of the most important questions that this passage answers is, “What is the evidence of genuine faith?” The answer is relatively simple: right belief, obedience to God’s commands, and a life of love. Often times, we overly focus on the complexities of Christianity and forget the basic essentials. I think most of us would agree that our initial attraction to faith was simply based on God’s love for us. When God’s Spirit begins to work mightily in a person, one of the first convictions that He gives is an understanding of how much love it took for God to send His only Son to be a sacrifice of sin. And along with that understanding, the Spirit gives a simultaneous compulsion to love others just as Christ loved us.
When I first became a believer, I remember having this overwhelming desire to love others so much so that the church that I attended put me on the welcome team. Unfortunately, I think I scared some people by being so friendly and open with God’s love, but I couldn’t keep it from overflowing. In that season, the command to love was not burdensome but one of life’s greatest joys. Eventually, though, my heart became hardened like most of us who have been Christians for a long period of time and my desire to love began to fade. There were circumstances and people that made me realize that the church was an imperfect community and it became much harder to love. For this reason, many of us are able to put our love for God and our love for others in different compartments of our heart.
However, John reminds us that it is completely incongruent for us to think that we can love God, while giving little consideration to loving our brothers and sisters in Christ. In fact, loving God through our right beliefs and obeying his commands are the evidence that we love the children of God. Only in this way can we truly become imitators of Christ, who loved His Father with perfect knowledge, obeying him without sin, and ultimately becoming the perfect sacrifice of love for those who would become his brothers and sisters by faith.
Prayer: Jesus, help us to become more and more like You. May our lives produce the same evidence of genuine faith that was so apparent in Your life and ministry, that we would love God with a purity of mind and heart, striving to live in obedience, and loving others in the way You have loved us. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Romans 2
Lunch Break Study
Read John 15:12-17: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants,[a] for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
Questions to Consider
- What is the greatest expression of love?
- How can we fulfill this difficult command to love?
- What is the basis of our friendship with Christ?
- The greatest love is found in the willingness to lay down our lives for one another.
- Frederick Bruner, in his commentary on the Gospel of John, teaches that Christ’s sacrifice wasn’t just an example for us to follow, but it is also the source of power for believers to love just as he loved us. We can only love to the level we believe God loves us.
- The basis of our friendship with God is that we obey the commands of Christ and by the fact that everything He has heard from the Father, He has now disclosed to us.
Are you growing in your love for God and for others? Are the commands of God becoming burdensome? Pray that you would rediscover that first love that you once had and to simplify your faith with what matters most.