If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
– John 15:7-11
Who doesn’t remember a time when they were young when they were tempted to disobey a parent or teacher for impulsive or foolish reasons? I have memories as a boy determining that my parents’ boundaries were not to be respected, and then suffering the negative effects as a result. It’s the natural state of the immature mind to rebel against authority, failing to appreciate its inherent good. One can call to mind many movies and TV shows today where someone rebelled against authority and turns out to be the hero of the story because the authority was evil. However, how many stories are there where the opposite is the case, that is, someone rebels against authority and it turns out that it was a foolish move? I would argue, not nearly as many.
Much is said about the need to abide in Jesus’ love, and as John 15 makes clear, the way to abide in His love is to obey His commandments. If you are faithfully keeping Jesus’ commandments, then you are abiding in His love, but if you are neglecting His commandments then you are not abiding in His love. It’s tempting to fool ourselves with phrases like, “it’s about the relationship and not about the rules,” but this is not true. Surely, it’s the case that one is only forgiven and made a child of God through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, apart from works. However, to walk with God, and to abide with Jesus and His love, obedience to Him is needed, even though one’s obedience doesn’t merit God’s love or merit one’s forgiveness.
It takes effort to keep God’s commandments and also to learn and understand them. There are over 1,000 commands in the New Testament alone, and the faithful Christian diligently studies the ways of God to better love and obey Him in all respects. Although this could feel burdensome, this is why the Holy Spirit was sent, that is, to give us more strength to obey His commandments - strength that was not available to Old Testament saints. Therefore, we have more power, more ability to be faithful to God than they were, although only if we are walking in the power of the Holy Spirit.
In verse 11 Jesus states why He’s telling His hearers this information - that they may experience joy, and not just in a mild way, but in the fullest way possible. Indeed, walking in faithful obedience to Jesus brings joy and blessing as King David communicates in Psalm 51:12 after he repents of his sins, asking God to “restore the joy of my salvation.” Do you find yourself sometimes lacking joy? Have you ever considered that an ungodly attitude has creeped in or that being disobedient is characterizing your life? Harboring unforgiveness, failing to be generous, being self-indulgent, failing to bridle one’s tongue and many others attitudes and actions often rob Christians of their joy, and they aren’t even aware it’s happening.
May the Lord shower you with His love and supernatural joy as you repent of sins daily, walk in obedience to Him, and experience His joy!
Dear Lord, open my eyes to see where I am failing to obey You, and give me the strength to repent of all sins that I may be pleasing to You in every way. Amen
Founder and CEO, Christian Union
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