“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” ESV John 14:15
As I read through the Gospel of John this past week with my daughter Ashley, this verse captured my attention. I confess to being just as fascinated by what it does not say as I am by what it plainly declares; the latter being that if you love Jesus you will keep His commandments.
But think with me for a moment about what the verse does not say. The verse does not say that if you keep the commandments of Jesus that He will love you. It doesn’t say that Jesus has any duty or obligation whatsoever to bestow His love on you because you keep His commandments.
Now, lest I offend too many, let me say that I am certain that Jesus is pleased (happy if you will) when you keep His commandments because the Bible tells us plainly that God loves righteousness and hates evil. But being pleased by an action is altogether different from being obligated by an action.
Back in the late sixteenth century a document was commissioned in Germany that outlined the basic tenets of the Christian faith. That document, held in high regard in its day and still very useful today, is The Heidelberg Catechism. I mention it here because of its three basic divisions that are captured well by the title of book published by Banner of Truth; Guilt, Grace and Gratitude.
The catechism begins by highlighting mankind’s desperate condition of guilt and assured damnation because of sin. The second section explains the gracious gift of salvation and reconciliation to God made possible through the finished and complete work of Jesus Christ. The Heidelberg Catechism concludes by with an extensive section explaining what biblical gratitude looks like. Hint—it looks like John 14:15!
When you think about it, could anything be more natural? If you were convicted of an offense that carried a death sentence, yet pardoned because of the actions of another, wouldn’t it be natural to express your gratitude towards your benefactor forevermore? Sure it would. You’d love that person forever.
Is it, perhaps should it, be any different in the life of a Christian? Guilty of sin against a holy God, yet pardoned, reconciled to God through the actions of Jesus the Son, could anything be more natural than expressing appreciation and love towards your benefactor than in keeping His commandments? I think not.
Many strive to live good and righteous lives. Those who love Jesus do so as an expression of love for their Savior.