He First Loved Us

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23 ESV)

February is a month where many think of the changes in the weather, candy, and love. The commercially packaged romance so shortly after Christmas reflects the generally understood concept of the need to express love. Love is not simply an emotion or state of being. Love, at its foundation, is self-sacrificial action born out of the desire to benefit someone else. With that in mind, let us consider the greatest commandment. Matthew 22:37 says, “You shall love the LORD your GOD with all of your heart, and wit all your soul, and with all your mind.” Given the statement previously made about love, how can we as mortal men and women fulfill this commandment? Jesus taught that those who love him keep his word.

Keeping God’s word is self-sacrificial work. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it (Luke 9:23-24 ESV). Denying self is a common theme in Scripture. Romans 6:11 commands us to consider ourselves dead to sin. Colossians 3:2-3 tells us to set our minds on things that are above. Why? Because we have died and our life is hidden in Christ. We could go on and on with such commands from Scripture but I think the point is clear. We renounce our old way of life, even those things we like, if they do not comply with God’s word (Titus 2:12).

Keeping God’s word benefits God. Clearly, God is sovereign and he really does not need us. He is absolute in his existence, we cannot add anything to him. All things are his and as Paul said, “”For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”  “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” (Romans 11:34-35 ESV).” Nevertheless, it is this same God who taught in Matthew 25:31-46 that those who were sheep, merciful and loving toward God, inherited the kingdom. When the sheep asked when they had done such the Lord replied when you were merciful and loving to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.

The greatest blessing of all is the promise that those who love God will experience intimacy with him. Jesus saying “we will come to him” shows his willingness to close that gap between himself and mankind. When he promises that he and the Father will make their abode with the one who loves him, he comforts us with the promise of being part of the family of God. This verse is one of the most intimate portraits of the Christian life. Intimacy with God can only come from a true love for God. That kind of love is expressed through obedience to his word. Obedience is an expression of the love we have for him because he first loved us. Let us go on keeping his word together!