Love is one of the most powerful motivations in human life. It is something that every person needs and desires. It is a subject that has dominated literature and music for hundreds of years, and movies since the inception of this medium. Love can move men and women to do things that they might not otherwise do. As a result, people sometimes try to use love as leverage to get others to do what they want. Sadly, this influence has not always been used for good purposes.
It is this fact that illustrates how skewed society’s view of love is. Much of what the world calls love is little more than feelings or desires. Thus, people glibly speak of “falling into” or “falling out of” love according to how they feel at that moment. When viewed in this manner, love is fickle and fragile. It is merely a vehicle for the fulfillment of one’s personal wants.
When we open the pages of scripture we discover that love is nothing like this. The predominant word for love in the New Testament is agape, which is the highest and noblest concept of love. It is an act of the will in which one does what is best and right for others in every circumstance of life. This is the love that God showed for mankind when He sent His one and only Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Paul described it best in Rom. 5:8, where he said, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”
Mankind did nothing to cause God to take this action. He took it because we needed it, and because He chose to do so, despite our indifference to His will. This is what true love is, and this is the love to which each of us should aspire. If we made this kind of love our goal, we would never ask anything of another that was not in his or her best interests before God.
In addition to this, the kind of love to which God has called us requires something else of us. On the night of His betrayal, the Lord spoke to His apostles about many important subjects. During this discourse the Lord revealed another essential aspect of biblical love. In Jn. 14:15 He said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”
The scriptures do not reveal how the apostles reacted to this declaration. This omission suggests that they were not surprised by what the Lord said. Apparently, they recognized and acknowledged the connection between love and obedience. Whether they made the connection or not, however, the fact remains that the Lord required this of them, and consequently, requires it of us as well.
In simple terms, God expects us to show our love for Him by doing what He has commanded in His word. When we understand this important truth, it should change our attitude about the Christian walk. Many people want to emphasize love, while diminishing obedience. The words of our Lord show that one cannot be separated from the other. If we love God, we must obey Him. We cannot do otherwise, because to do so means we do not love Him.
If we love the Lord, we will only do that which is right and best for all in every situation, and we will not fail to obey all that the Lord has commanded in His word. If we love the Lord in this way, we will please Him, and we will be among the redeemed who are ushered into heaven at the end of time.