For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:3).
There are so many things I do that I find to be burdensome. Such as housecleaning. Oh, how I hate cleaning house. But I put myself to the task, sometimes violently: “Marty! Get this place cleaned up! Now!” The really odd thing is, once I get started I find I like it a lot. I can see progress in my work. Having the place sparkle is a delight to me. I’m inspired.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit this to you, but I don’t like taking showers. However, I know it is required of me, so with gritted teeth I get underneath the water, shudderingly getting myself wet, and then I realize how wonderful it is to be in a shower. I think to myself, “If only I could stand here all day with this lovely heat on my back.”
I have a friend who hates grocery shopping, yet in her nearby store she always meets friends, and they have long talks, leaning on their grocery carts. No doubt you can think of things you don’t like doing, yet they bring wonderful rewards. That’s how it is with following God’s commandments: loving Him first and secondly, loving His children.
Anytime I have served food in a homeless shelter, I’ve approached the job grudgingly. And then, every time at the end of the evening, I am so in love with these people, I don’t want to go home. Underneath the layers of rags they wear, the accumulated dirt, the shaggy hair, is a precious jewel, a child God created and loves with all His heart.
Where does our resistance come from? Certainly not from God! He is nudging us to the task so that we can participate in His love. The clean house, the warm shower, the meeting of friends, the helping hands, all are an expression of God’s love. We simply have an enemy who doesn’t want us to enjoy that love. Just say “NO!” to the devil. Say “YES!” to life.
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments(1 John 5:2).
My favorite way of loving God is waiting on Him until He rushes in on me with all His love. I cannot help but respond to Him with all my love. Let me use some of the lyrics of Josh Grogan’s song “You Raise Me Up.” “Then I am still and wait here in the silence, until You come and sit awhile with me.” That is literally what I do. I sit someplace comfortable and I wait. I don’t think about anything in particular; I simply await His arrival with great expectation. I did that last night and suddenly His Face filled the room I was in, and His enormous lips kissed mine.
When we realize how much He loves us, how can we not love Him in return? When we love someone like that, we want to do what He wants us to do. What are His commandments? To love one another. Even our most wicked enemies. Only love will reach them, you know. So they don’t love us. So what? We have the greatest Father/Brother/Teacher ever known who loves us, what do we care if we’re not loved?
Just sitting awhile with Him gives me great insight, great clarity. I couldn’t live without His love. Yes, I love the children of God, but only because His love for me overflows to His other children. I love them for Him. That kiss last night made me want to go out and kiss everybody— for Him.
Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him (1 John 5:1).
We just cannot get away from it. God is Father of Jesus, and He is Father of all those who have chosen Jesus, and He is Creator of those who have not yet chosen Jesus. All of those I just mentioned are recipients of God’s love. So our first goal is to love God the Father. Our second goal is to love Jesus His Begotten Son; our third goal is to love those who are submerged in Jesus; and our fourth goal is to love those hanging around the edges looking in. I think the Church has gotten those goals out of order.
One church I knew in California decided to build houses for people who couldn’t afford one. There were many wealthy people in the church, and the project was easily paid for. Their efforts made a big splash in the newspapers, and they were proud. But in their own church were some very poor people, people who didn’t have homes, didn’t have cars, lived from paycheck to paycheck, and sometimes at the end of the month, had to go down to the Salvation Army to be fed. They didn’t receive these free homes. No, it was the unsaved who received them. But then, they wouldn’t have made a splash in the papers if they’d only taken care of their own. But they would have made a big splash in heaven. It’s time to put the Church in order.
And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also (1 John 4:21).
All of us have little tricks that we use with ourselves. Mine is singing. I make up a little song to help me overcome whatever obstacle is in my path, and then I sing it over and over. Like if I’m having a problem with a certain person and I want that discord to go away, I sing, “I love everybody, and everybody loves me.” I can make up an infinite number of melodies to go along with those words. And it works. I don’t know why; all I know is that I don’t have to do anything beyond that in order to be at peace with that certain person. I do that with my writing, with my income, with book sales, with health issues, you name it—I sing it away.
It probably works because I take my words from the Bible, or at least ones that agree with the Bible. It’s the same thing as making what we Christians call confessions. We confess that we love our brother, and if we say it often enough, it happens. I simply prefer singing my confessions.
There will always be those who take issue with us and won’t be mollified by any effort on our parts, but our hearts can be clear because we love everybody! As one of our pundits said: “You can please 80% of the people most of the time, but you’ll never please 100% of the people at any time.” In other words, we can get 80% of the people to drop their grievances with us, but that 20% will hang back. Don’t worry about them. They’re God’s problem. You are your problem, so make sure your heart is right with God.