15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
What a privilege it is to love Christ! We love Him only because He first loved us (cf. 1 John 4:19). We did not love Him first. We were His enemies, and lived in defiance and utter disobedience to His Word. Paul has aptly said in Colossians 1:21-22, “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight”.
Having drawn us to love Him, our Lord Jesus tells us that we should be obedient to His commandments. Just as our disobedience once gave evidence of our hostility towards Him, now our obedience to His commandments should prove our love for Him.
However, it is also very important that our obedience and service emerge out of our love for Christ. Otherwise, we will be engaging in religious duties as a formality, which is nothing but sham religiosity. This is what Paul cautions us against in 2 Timothy 3:5, when he decries the religious pretence of “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof”. Many churchgoers show acts of piety without any inward reality of genuine piety. How tragic! How can we ever ensure that our lives are not marked by mere external formalism? Only by loving Him wholeheartedly!
What is basic to authentic Christianity is one’s love for the Lord. The spiritual underpinning that keeps a man’s Christian life steady and secure is his heart’s affection for Christ. Thus, the first and great commandment, according to the Lord Jesus, is to love the LORD God. He said in Matthew 22:37-39, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
All our Christian activities and duties must flow out of our love for the Lord. All our efforts without pure love for Christ are worthless. They shall be damned as acts of self-pleasure and self-glory.
If our hearts are filled with love for the Lord, everything that we utter and perform will be wrapped in His glory. If we truly love Him, we shall do nothing that grieves His heart. It is our personal love for Christ that yields obedience in all areas of our lives. Love operates via obedience.