Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Love and Obedience

Sometimes what we need isn't another devotional or sermon to increase our knowledge of God, but rather we need simply to take the time to obey what we already know He's commanded us to do. Jesus is very clear that loving God requires action. He said, "If you love me, you will keep my commands" (John 14:15). Elsewhere Jesus described it like this: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength" (Mark 12:30). The kind of love God expects from us involves our whole body. It isn't just mental assent. It also involves physical action.

The Bible leaves no room for Christians to claim to love God but be unaffected by that love. There is not a single example of a believer in Scripture who had faith and remained unchanged by it. Even the thief on the cross (which is the closest thing we have in Scripture to a "deathbed conversion") was changed by his faith. Matthew 27:44 and Mark 15:32 tell us that both robbers who were crucified next to Jesus hurled insults at Him, but Luke 23:39-42 says that one robber insulted Jesus while the other defended Him. How do we reconcile this? Is it not obvious that both robbers heaped insults upon the Savior, but then one was convicted of his sins? As he watched Jesus suffer and die he came to see the truth of who Christ really was. He began to look on Him in faith, and his faith changed him. Only then did he begin to defend Jesus. It is out of brotherly love that Luke records only this Christian's latter state and not his first. He isn't correcting Mark or Matthew's depiction of the crucifixion, he is highlighting a detail they left out.

I pray that obedience and acting out our faith will not be a detail we leave out of our Christian lives. The Bible says that "if anyone knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin" (James 4:17). Which of God's commands are you not obeying? Maybe you aren't telling others about Jesus. Maybe you aren't praying. Are you caring for the poor, for widows and for orphans? What about your money? Are you giving back a generous amount to God's church and His kingdom? Whatever God is laying on your heart, do it now. Don't plan to do it later. Take some action right now, no matter how small a first step it may be, to begin living out your love for God by obeying Him.

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