Bible Reading: 1 John 5:1-5

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. All his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:2-3)

Previously, John emphasised that to abide in God, that is, to have a close relationship in devotion and love with God, means to obey His commandment to love one another. 1 John 3:23-24 says, “And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.”

Now, John makes himself clearer by showing that loving others means loving God and obeying His commandments. He goes on to say that loving God is keeping His commandments. John emphasises that obeying God is not meant to be a burdensome task because those born of God have overcome the world and have found the truth in faith. What does this all mean?

One thing we have to address is our deluded understanding of obedience. This word naturally comes with negative connotations. Obedience or submission always sounds restrictive. It binds our freedom. It limits what we can do, and ultimately, it limits us from being happy because in our minds doing what we want to do is what will make us happy. Both these thoughts are misconceptions. 

Firstly, happiness does not come from doing whatever we want. In fact, this will only serve to ruin us. Secondly, obedience in a relationship with God is in no way restrictive or freedom-limiting. Paradoxically, living in obedience to God is the greatest joy and freedom we will ever experience. 

The world thinks that obedience to some higher power is ultimately nonsense and a waste of time. Why have your life ruled by a tyrant when you can rule it yourself? This is the lie in such a statement; you can never rule your own life ‘freely’ as you wish because you are a slave to sin. Sin rules over your life, and you can do nothing but the things that displease God. 

On the contrary, when we believe in Jesus as the Son of God, everything changes. We are freed from the bondage of sin and made children of God. In love, God redirects our life to understand that obedience to Him is what is good because God is not a tyrant and what He asks of us is for our own good. Obedience is synonymous with love because it shows that we trust God. We trust that our Creator knows what is best for us, acknowledging that we were totally in the wrong when we thought we knew better by pursuing sin. 

Obedience is our joy because the God who asks for it is a good God. He promises good from obedience. By obedience, we show that we love God, who has first loved us. What has been your perspective on obedience, and how much do you obey Him?

Lord, please forgive us when we think that obedience is a negative burden. Please melt our hearts to see Your love and Your goodness. Shape in our hearts a love for You so that we can learn to obey You joyfully. Reveal to us personally that You are a God that is worth trusting in all things. In Jesus’ name, we pray, amen.