The Bible makes it plain that the chief expression of love is obedience to God’s commands. Let me say it again: love is obedience. What does love look like? It looks like obeying God. Jesus, who wrote the book on authentic love—both in written form and on the pages of his life, said “If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you.” (John 14:15, MSG)
Going Deep // Focus: Deuteronomy 11:22
Be careful to obey all these commands I am giving you. Show love to the Lord your God by walking in his ways and holding tightly to him.
Are you, like me, sick and tired of the world’s definition of love and hate? When I say “the world,” I am referring to anything and anyone that stands in opposition to God as he has revealed himself and his ways in his Word. That would include our godless culture in general along with specific people both great and small within our culture who, intentional or not, promote a godless philosophy of life. And, I hate to admit, “the world” at times even includes you and me because of the worldly passions within our own sinful flesh.
The world has corrupted the true and authentic definition of love, as well as hate, beyond recognition. Hate has become anything that rubs against the fur of what the world embraces. For instance, if you now call sin what it is, sin, you are marginalized and mocked as an intolerant, dangerous, bigoted hater. You are hate personified! But let’s set aside hate and simply talk about love. The world has really messed that one up, too!
The world’s definition of love is a sloppy, squishy, anything goes kind of feeling of affection. It is ever-changing, here today and gone tomorrow, this one minute, that the next, a sensation that rises and falls with one’s current emotional state. Love is whatever satisfies me and gives me pleasure. It is a patently selfish worldview that “loves” to the degree that love is requited. It is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately state of mind. And it is flat out wrong, counterproductive and even dangerous.
Ask a thousand different people for their concept of love and you will most likely get a thousand different depictions, but unless God’s Word informs those depictions of love, they will be wrong 100% of the time. The Bible makes it plain that the chief expression of love is obedience to God’s commands. Let me say it again: love is obedience. What does love look like? It looks like obeying God. Jesus, who wrote the book on authentic love—both in written form and on the pages of his life, said “If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you.” (John 14:15, MSG)
In an age where love is a very squishy concept, God still clearly demands that those who claim to follow him demonstrate their love not just in language, but in action. It is love that is not just a noun, it is a verb. A noun needs a verb as well as an object to tell the full story, and so does love. What love is cannot be told without showing what love does. And what love does is incomplete without the person to whom it is done. The Apostle Paul taught that in 1 Corinthians 13, the great love chapter, when he wrote, “love is…” Then he defines what “love is” by demonstrating what love does: It acts. It works. It affects. It produces an outcome.
Jesus clearly states that the outcome of love for God is obedience: The one who loves him will obey his commandments. If they accept his demands, they will prove it by obedience to those requirements, thus authenticating their love for him. They will do what he says. Jesus can’t be any clearer than that: love for God has conditions—it obeys.
Now to be sure, authentic, Biblically defined love doesn’t obey to be love; it obeys because it is love. That is very clear when you look to the source of love, the Being who defines what love is by demonstrating what love does. God is love. His love is an unconditional, sacrificial, proactive love that seeks out unworthy objects to love. It is a holy and righteous love; it is a tough love; it is an unchanging love. It is this love that is the essence of God’s being; it is energy of what God does. It is the outcome of where God has been and is. God is love—not just love the noun, but love the verb. Love does!
Your love for God, and mine, if it is to be true, is not just love the noun, but love the verb; and verb is spelled o-b-e-y! Your love for God does for God. It obeys. It does what he says. Not to earn more of his love, but to express love in response to what you can never earn. That is the condition of true love: it loves through unrelenting and unconditional obedience.
If anyone defines love other than in that way, reject it. It might be well intentioned, but it is totally misguided. Rather, embrace obedience to God—that is love!