“One of the neighborhood children came by yesterday when I was out in the front yard digging some weeds out of the flower bed,” Stan began one morning. “He said he was on his way to Billy’s and they were going to figure out something really important.”
“What was that?”
“It seems that the teacher had asked the children to think about the question of which came first, the chicken or the egg. He said that he and Billy were going to talk about the question and get it all figured out.”
“Did you venture your opinion?” I asked.
“No,” Stan replied, “he didn’t ask and I didn’t volunteer. I just told him to let me know what they decided!”
“After he went on his way,” Stan continued, “I was thinking about the similar question of which is to come first, my love for God or my obedience to Him. That, as well as the related question of what comes from obedience to God without loving Him first.”
“And what’s that?” I asked.
“Legalism,” he replied. “If my obedience to God doesn’t flow from my love for Him, but flows from self-centered efforts to please Him, I think I’m definitely on the wrong path heading in the wrong direction.”
“But isn’t God pleased with obedience?”
“He is, but I think that it’s the source of obedience that’s more important to Him.”
“A heart that’s right with Him, a heart that is so filled with love that obedience just flows. If I obey God without loving Him, the result will be pride in thinking how wonderful I am for obeying Him. I don’t think God is interested in how wonderful I think I am, but I do know that He’s interested in how wonderful I think He is — how much I love Him for who He is.”
“And,” I replied, “if you love Him you will obey Him. Is that your point?”
“Not mine,” Stan replied. “His.”
Bible verses to consider:
If you love me, you will keep My commandments. John 14:15.
He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him. John 14:21.
If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love. John 15:10.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for your love. Thank you that out of that love you gave Jesus so that all who believe can have the assurance of spending eternity with you when it’s time. Thank you for the opportunity to love Jesus and to keep His commandments while I remain in this life before I get on the train. Too often I do not express my love by my obedience. Please help me so that my obedience flows from genuine love, not from any self-centered efforts to please you apart from loving you. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: Do you obey God? If not, why? If you do, what is your motivation for obedience? Is it your love of God, your self-focused efforts, or something in between? What does God want to be your motivation? If you sense you may not love God as much as He wants, do you know the solution for that?