Motivated by Love

[Note: this is a continuing part of a series reproducing a sermon. An explanation can be found here.]

Even if we know that obedience is important, and know where to find the commands and how to understand them, really, what might we be looking for? What does the obedient Christian look like?

It may be that we need to adjust our answer to that a bit. We color that answer with reference to external matters when in reality the essence of obedience is really internal.

III. Obedience is motivated by love aiming to Christ-likeness.

Jesus does not simply say ‘do what I say’. He says that, of course. But that is not all he says. He begins and ends obedience with himself. It is not obedience that defines the Christian life. It is, rather, Jesus.

If we are not careful we will miss his emphases. Notice how he himself is prominent in this statement:

If you love ME, you will keep MY commandments. (15)

The Christian life begins and ends with Jesus, meaning first that

A. Obedience is motivated by love.

In the same way we’ve made the case that love is not mere sentiment, so we must make the case that obedience is not mere mechanics. It is possible to obey without love. And that is not the Christian life. Surely it is inadequate to say one loves and then not obey. But it is as well inadequate to obey without love.

To generalize, we are to be neither poets nor engineers.

The poet loves deeply with his affections and is free-spirited in his actions; the engineer is precise in his actions, and challenged in his affections.

The Christian is to be both a lover who obeys and a follower who loves deeply the one he follows. It is possible to be a great doer, and a poor lover and a great lover and a poor doer.

It is love for Jesus that motivates obedience, and it is the love from Jesus that stimulates love for him. It all starts and ends with HIM.

If obedience is a struggle, the first remedy is not to try harder at doing. Oh, we may need to try harder, of course. But that is not where we start. If obedience is a struggle, the root problem is the heart. We first need to address our love. I may lack the strength to obey because my heart has not been moved to worship and love.

The first step toward obedience, whether my own, or my children, or my church, is to have my and their hearts turned back toward Jesus. To hear again the gospel of his love for me is what stirs the dim affections of my heart. And then, loving him, I will have greater strength to keep HIS commandments.

If you love ME, you will keep MY commandments. (15)

Obedience is motivated by love – it begins and ends with Jesus.