As Christ followers, it is necessary for us to contemplate our devotion to Christ. Self-examination is necessary. Accordingly, we should continually evaluate our relationship with Him in conjunction with analyzing Scripture. Questions that I often ask myself are as follows: What does it mean to truly love Jesus? What makes the phrase “I love Jesus” more than a mere superficial expression?
Keeping His Commandments
Loving our precious Savior goes well beyond feelings. Furthermore, it even transcends basic gratitude. Like His love for us in going to the cross, our love for Him is expressed in tangible actions (Luke 6:46-49). In short, to love Him is to obey Him. Jesus paints this vivid picture of followers’ devotion in each of the Gospel accounts.
One of Jesus’ explicit statements that I most often think about comes from John 14:15. He conveys, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” This message encompasses all of His ethical commandments and all revelations from God (John 3:31-36).
After Christ articulated the connection between love and obedience, He then told His disciples that believers would have access to a Helper (John 14:15-22). While we mourn because of our current sinful condition, He does not leave us by ourselves as we pursue our love for Him. The Holy Spirit enables us to run the race.
Although it is not possible for the Christ follower to obey perfectly in this world, we are able to rely on the Spirit for assistance. We are prompted to repent daily as we reach for God’s holiness. Our sanctification is driven by God.
Desiring Him Instead of Desiring the World
Obeying Jesus means loving Him more than anything or anyone else in the world. As indicated by His words, it requires denial of ourselves to follow Him (Matthew 16:24-26). This translates to putting our personal dreams to death and living in God’s will. To the world, this kind of love is blind devotion.
However, those in Christ understand that death to self leads to true freedom (Matthew 11:30). Following Jesus does not come from dogmatic religious practices and legalism, but it is generated by our love for Him. We desire to please Him because He is more than worthy. He has enabled us to overcome the world, and He has given us peace.
The gift that God has given us through Christ is indescribable from a human perspective. The salvation He presents to us despite our unworthiness is remarkable. We owe Him everything. This realization should give us moments of pause. May we truly love Him by obeying His commands.
“For My yoke is comfortable, and My burden is light.”
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what good will it do a person if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul? Or what will a person give in exchange for his soul?”
“Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men." He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.“
“AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.”
"Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent af burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.”
"He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. What He has seen and heard, of that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony. He who has received His testimony has set his seal to this, that God is true. For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand. He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him."
“But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. "I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.”
1 John 5:2-4
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith.