Love & The Commandments

“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.” (I John 5:3)

There is a fallacy in the thinking of many people, that there is a distinction between the “love” of God, and the commandments of God; as if one might say: “I am a person of ‘love”, not ‘commandment.'” But here John indicates that there is no such distinction: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” In other words, if we are really people who are filled with God’s love, we will not ignore or forsake His commandments; rather we will KEEP them!

John tells us that God’s commandments are not “burdensome” — in other words they are not drudgery or legalistic — rather, they are the expression of His love. He gave His specific commands in order to show us HOW, in very specific ways, we might fulfill His “Great Commandments” of love for Him and for His people. How do you love God? Don’t have any other gods before Him. Don’t worship Him through idolatry. Worship Him on His day, etc. The commandments show us HOW to love Him.

And it is the same with His commandments regarding other people. How do we love people? Don’t kill them, steal from them, or covet what is theirs. Don’t be angry with them, lie to them, or rip them off. All the commandments regarding our horizontal relationships with other people are meant to demonstrate to us, in practical and specific ways, how we are to LOVE them.

So there is no false “dilemma” between choosing either the LOVE of God, or the COMMANDS of God. Both of these originate the same God. How do you demonstrate the love of God towards people? Keep His commandments towards them. If you aren’t keeping God’s commandments towards people, then no matter what you “say” you are doing, you aren’t really LOVING them. He tells us here that when you really show His love, you keep His commandments.

About Shawn Thomas

My blog, shawnethomas.com, provides brief devotions from own personal daily Bible reading, as well as some of my sermons, book reviews, and family life experiences.
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