St. Augustine once said, “Love God and do whatever you please.”
What do you think about that? I once shared this quote in a sermon and received a few puzzled looks. But it’s true! Think about it. If we love God, would we ever wrong him? The quote goes on to say, “for the soul trained in love to God will do nothing to offend the One who is Beloved.” If we love God we will obey God. If we obey God we will love others. So love then, is the key.
It’s All About Love!
Jesus was once asked, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40 NIV)
Moses, in his sermons of Deuteronomy stressed love for God and obedience to God:
“Love the LORD your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always… love the LORD your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul… love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him and to hold fast to him… love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life” (Deuteronomy 11:1,13,22; 30:20 NIV)
Love and Obey.
Moses was not the only one to stress the relationship between love and obedience. Jesus makes it crystal clear that if we love him than we will keep his commands and if we don’t love him, then we won’t obey him.
“If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth… 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them… 23 “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching.” (John 14 NIV)
What is Jesus command? What is his teaching? These next few verses from John’s Gospel really spell out exactly what command Jesus wants us to follow:
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15 NIV)
So Loving Others = Loving God?
So to sum up what Jesus is saying: If you love me, then you will obey my commands, my command is to love others. So, if we love God then we will love others.
“This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:2-4 NIV)
The apostle John tells us that we can’t pretend for a moment to love God, if we don’t love others (see 1 John).
My friend shared this quote with me tonight, “We only can love God as well as the people that we love the least”. What do you think about that?
After my parents divorce, my brother was living with dad and I, with our mom just three blocks away. I remember as a teenager my brother calling me up one afternoon. He had experimented with LSD with some friends and had a really bad “trip” and was in terror of the demons. He asked me to come over and read the Bible to him. I ran over as quick as I could and I started reading to him from first John.
After a couple of chapters of 1 John I’m thinking to myself, “He is probably bored stiff with this. Is he falling asleep on me?” When I finally finished reading through the whole book he turned to me and said, “That was awesome!” And I knew he meant it. The terror had left him and God’s peace had come.
(Take some time to talk with God today about your love for God and for others. Ask him to show you ways you can show love to those around you today.)
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ps. Francis Chan is a teacher I greatly respect and admire. He wrote a book called Crazy Love which I’d recommend. Here is a video that I think you will find inspiring: Click here for a Francis Chan message (You can download the video and burn it to a DVD, or just burn the audio to a CD to listen to as you drive, but I encourage you to take the time to hear what Francis Chan has to say about our love for others.)
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” – Jesus (Matthew 7:12 NIV)