"If you love me, you will keep my commandments." (John 14:15)
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. And his commandments are not burdensome. (1 John 5:2-3)
I have often taught the children that the best way to say "I love you" to mom and dad is to trust the instructions and rules given to them from mom and dad... to trust that these are given to them for their good, not bad. Giving mom a pretty picture that says "I love you, Mom" is great, but if you then go ahead and trample on mom's instructions or lie about hitting a sibling, did that gift testify to the truth?
This reminds me of a time in ancient Israel when they were consumed by complacency and they would go through the motions of obedience but their hearts were far from God, trampling all over the very heart of His laws which in essence are to serve Him and love Him with joy (not obligation) and to love others with as much joy. God would say "your heads are turned towards me but your bodies are turned away." Essentially, any form of worship not proceeding from a heart that rejoices in the truth of His word becomes an abomination and He would declare "in vain do you worship me."
So too, acts of gifts and giving or words become empty when actions of the heart testify differently.
My children know that we seek the intentions of our hearts in our actions and the moments that these reveal a genuine love and trust, a spiritual rejoicing takes over... love becomes truly experienced.
I have to remind my children of this now and again, particularly with bedtime routines. But once I ask them "how do you show Mom that you love her?" and they respond "through our obedience", a wonderful thing happens. As I climb up to tuck them into bed and every aspect of their bedtime routine has been accomplished of their own choosing, their beaming smiles on their faces testifying to their excitement is enough to warm any mother's heart. In those moments, it is my delight to thank them for gifting me with an "i love you" that reaches my very soul.
True obedience is a gift of love, never given out of fear but out of freedom. Otherwise one would have to call it something quite different. Today, I find our culture is so afraid of the word "obedience" and ties it to a scary, authoritative brutal dictatorship where all freedom is smooshed and obedience is demanded and strangled out of someone rather than given.
Obedience is always a choice. And true obedience is a gift, a freewill offering... or rather, an offering made of our freewill. And when you know the gift delights the one whom you love, it becomes your delight and joy to give it.
Today, Avalyn was playing on an iPod first thing in the morning... something that is contrary to the rules in this house. Melina (19 yrs old) and her boyfriend, Jared (19 yrs old) are in town and were in the living room when they saw Avalyn (2 yrs old) playing with it.
"Um, Avalyn? Are you allowed to play on the iPod right now?"
Avalyn sheepishly looked up at her big sister and shook her head no.
"Then what do you need to do with that iPod?"
Avalyn reluctantly turned off the iPod and slowly walked towards the wall unit where these are kept. She picked up a second one and stared at both of them in her hands, looking from one to the other. The temptation was nearly palpable! As she continued looking from one to the other, something seemed to resolve in her mind, and she said:
"I choose Yaweh." With that, she put both iPods away where they belonged, turned around and went about playing happily. Rather than feel deprived, she took delight in her obedience and even revealed a confidence of being freed conscience-wise. Had I forced her to put it away or used fear to make her obey, I would have robbed her of fine-tuning her own self-discipline and mastery over temptation. Each of these tiny victories in self-control is like working out a spiritual muscle.
"My power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9)
And with this I encourage each of you to trust that the laws of God, His instructions, are given for our good, not bad. That no amount of professing with our lips that we love Him will compare to our delight in doing what is pleasing to Him... love His law, which is spiritual (Romans 7:14). He will never take away your freedom to choose for yourself if you will gift Him with your obedience, but He knows that by nature of its design, it will lead you to a freed-conscience and a joy beyond measure. God gifted us with His spiritual law that leads to life because its purpose has always been to keep us aiming on the bullseye, which is Yeshua... the very embodiment of it.
I envision Him as a Father coming to "tuck us in" and our eagerness and excitement in sheer anticipation of knowing our obedience to His "bedtime routine" is going to put that big smile on His face... I want to see a softening in His eyes as He says "thank you for saying 'I love you' in a way that reaches the very depths of my soul." Our Redeemer, Yeshua, has proclaimed that if we love Him, we will joyously keep His commandments, for they are not burdensome but rather a delight to give!
For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me. (John 12:49-50)
Jesus did not come to abolish the law (Matt 5:17), but to testify and confirm to the truth of the life found within it... that our obedience may be founded on our freedom to gift it... our freewill offering. May you be blessed by the very embodiment of God's eternal and unchanging law, the perfecter of our faith, our King of Kings, Lord or Lords... our Everlasting Father. I ask this in Yeshua's name... Amen.