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Obedience, the Test of Love

(1 John 5:1-15)

Lesson 11 -- fourth quarter 2003
November 16, 2003

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2003, Christian Light Publications

Measuring love for God

Ruby (she's my wife!) was sewing a dress today . . . and used a tape measure to measure the fabric. A few weeks ago she made Christmas treats . . . and poked a candy thermometer in the gooey stuff to keep track of its temperature. Several days ago I wanted to know my weight . . . so I stood on the bathroom scales. We, like you, use other types of instruments to determine various kinds of measurements. But how shall we measure a commodity such as love?

"If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). Jesus communicates with us using such directness and simplicity, doesn't He! He leaves no ambiguity in His message: Measuring love is as simple as measuring obedience. The extent of my obedience determines the extent of my love. The process is no more complicated than that.

"He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me" (John 14:21). To seek out, treasure, and obey His commandments -- that reveals and proves love. This verse brings out an additional vital dimension to obedience and love. Those who love God do not rest in their present understanding and obedience. No! They have the disposition and drive of an explorer, of a learner. They strive to deepen and expand their knowledge of God's will because they wish to extend the scope of their obedience. In other words, they want to know more so they can obey more . . . because they want to love more. They read and listen, study and meditate, search and research -- not to acquire knowledge for its own sake, but to acquire knowledge for the sake of obedience.

"If a man love me, he will keep my words" (John 14:23). After giving the teaching He did, Jesus could guide His audience to that obvious conclusion. Those who love Him, obey Him. The length and depth of the one measures the length and depth of the other.

"And this is love, that we walk after his commandments" (2 John 6). OK. I think I've got the message now. That is, I do intellectually. My life and actual obedience will show whether I've truly gotten the message.

Another love-measuring tool

"He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" (1 John 4:20). The obvious answer to this rhetorical question is, "He can't!" We can measure our love for God by our love for our fellowman. To put it another way, I love God no more than I love the person I love the least. The next verse goes beyond a rhetorical question to an outright order: "And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also" (1 John 4:21). Now we have made a full circuit back to the first tool for measuring our love for God. Will we obey, or not?

As obedience measures our love for God, so selflessness determines and measures our love for one another? "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren" (1 John 3:16).

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