No one wants to fail this test. Any test, really. We all want to pass with flying colors and don’t ever want to hear that we have failed. It is important to us to “make the grade” and graduate with the rest of our class. However, some tests are more critical than others. This is one of the important ones!
We don’t have to look around very far to see the evidence that our society puts a lot of emphasis on this “thing” called…LOVE. What is love? How do we know if what we have is real?
The dictionary describes love as being: “a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person” and “the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship.” Hmm…is this really love? If love is only a feeling, is it any wonder that people fall in and out of love? After all, our feelings are erratic. This so called “love” doesn’t seem very stable to me. Who wants to make themselves vulnerable to a love like this? Sounds scary to me!
Sadly, this same “feeling-based” love is now also being reflected in how we view our relationship with God. Have you ever noticed how many of the songs sung in our churches are based on emotions? Some of them sound like secular love songs except for the occasional reference to God or Jesus. We seem to have removed the reverent and holy part of worship and have replaced it with an emotional encounter. In light of God’s great love for us, does He not deserve much more than this?
Jesus defined love to His disciples in this way, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) In other words…If you truly love Me, then you will not only say you love Me, you will do what I tell you to do. When Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, Jesus emphasized the importance of doing what Jesus asked Peter to do. It had NOTHING to do with Peter’s feelings of affection, but it had ALL to do with Peter’s actions.
Let me assume that you are a Christian. You have asked Jesus to come into your heart and are actively involved within your church. Good for you! You are taking steps to follow Jesus. Now let’s look a bit deeper to see how well you score with Jesus’ love test. Do you possess genuine, unselfish love? As we recognized earlier, Jesus determines our level of love for Him by how willing we are to obey Him. Let’s take a look at just five of Jesus’ commands…
1.) Matthew 19:6 commands us to honor marriage. “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” How well have you done with this one? Have you encouraged someone else to get a divorce
because they weren’t happy with their marriage? Do you honor YOUR marriage by respecting and submitting to your husband, or by loving your wife like God clearly defined? Are you honoring your marriage relationship by making it a high priority or does it come after your relationships with your children or friends?
2.) Jesus clearly taught that we should always forgive our offenders. (Matthew 18:21-22) Have you ever been offended by your spouse, or someone within your family or church? Have you been holding them at arms length? Do you secretly delight when they experience difficulties or when they get a bit of “what they deserve”? How have you done in this area of forgiveness?
3.) In Matthew 18:10, Jesus gives us the command to not despise a little one. We are appalled as we see the many abortions that happen in our world today because of individuals choosing to “despise” God’s little children. However, many of us also “despise” children by simply thinking we don’t have the time or money for them. One definition of despise is: “To regard as unworthy of one’s interest or concern.” How do you think the church is doing in this concept regarding children? How are you obeying this command?
4.) Matthew 5:12 says, “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad…” I won’t even mention how many times God commands us to rejoice! And, remember, this is not a recommendation, it’s a command! How many times do you fail in this area? Is your love for Jesus great enough to obey this command?
5.) In Matthew 22:37-38, Jesus again commands, “Thou shalt LOVE the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.” Did you know that your previous scores will clearly determine how you score on this one most important command? Jesus said that “all the law and the prophets” hang on this command and on the one to “love our neighbor as ourselves.” In other words, if we obey these two commands, all the other commands of Jesus will be obeyed. Sounds rather simple, doesn’t it? We all know, though, that it’s not! Does Jesus see the evidence of you fully and completely loving Him?
Today, I had an experience with one of our little girls that portrayed the exact response that we often give to God. My little sweetheart was sitting quietly and looking at some books. I smiled at her and said, “I love you, girl!” She looked up and sweetly responded, “I love you too, Mommy!” Her response and smile melted my heart! Not long after that, I asked her to pick up her toys. Sadly, this time she responded, “Mom, I don’t want to always do that! Why do I HAVE to?” I was very disappointed with this response, especially right after her sweet declaration of love only minutes earlier. I began explaining to her that she can TELL me that she loves me but I will KNOW she loves me by the way she OBEYS me.
Don’t we often respond in this same way to our Heavenly Father? We diligently read His word and reverently bow our heads before Him in prayer. In apparent adoration, we raise our hands as we worship and praise Him, yet, at the same time, our lives don’t always indicate that we are willingly obeying Him. How can this be?
We can define our love simply like this…If we truly LOVE God, we will OBEY Him! True love won’t look for loopholes in order to do what appeals to our flesh. Love doesn’t expect God’s grace and forgiveness to compensate for our rebellious and defiant ways. The extent to which we obey God and His word determines the extent of our love for Him. What grade would God give you right now? You may succeed in many other areas of life and pass every other test, but if you fail this one, the others will count for NOTHING!
“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.” (Rev. 2:4-5)
~Cindy (For The Mullett Family)