God’s Commands Are Not Burdensome. Really!

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well, and that this devotion finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy!

Readings for May 9, 2021; Sixth Sunday of Easter (Mother’s Day)

Acts 10:34-48; Psalm 98; 1 John 5:1-8; John 15:9-17

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the World. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 1 John 5:1-5

At first glance, it may seem that to love God is very law based: “carry out his commands”, “keep his commands”. At first when I see this, I think of the Ten Commandments and how Jesus says to even think a hateful thought is just as bad as murder. If carrying out his commands is based only on this realization, I am defeated before I can even start. But then, he goes on to say that his commands are not burdensome. What?! This thought just burdens me more, because these commands can be difficult. Many times my thoughts, words and deeds lay me before his throne full of guilt. I am stuck in my sin and cannot escape. It would seem I am incapable of following his commands and thus showing my love to my Heavenly Father. O woe is me!

Yet, for many Christians, they base their love for God on this way of thinking. On the other hand, this way of thinking can also lead to a sense of judgement towards others: “They’re not acting right” or “They’re not godly enough” or “My love for God is greater than yours because I hold the commandments better.” It almost becomes a bullying behaviour. In fact, in some historical events, it was bullying. So, is this really how we are called to show our love to God?  The answer is a loud, resounding NO!

As we read, in Jesus, we show our love for God and his children when we keep his commands, and these commands are not burdensome. So what are these commands?

Well, let’s look at what Jesus himself says:

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. . . . My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:9-10, 12

In this light, to show our love for God and his children, is simply to love them. Does that mean we can ignore all the other commandments? No, but by living in God’s love and asking the Holy Spirit to fill us with his fruit- love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control– all the other commandments fall into place. As it is written, “against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

Although these commands seem much more bearable, they have their challenges for us sinners too, especially when we are called to love our enemy or those that are different from us. However, it’s in those times of denying our own fear and hard heartedness that the love of Jesus shines even more brightly through us. For isn’t that exactly how Christ demonstrated his love for us when he faced the pain and journey to the cross. Yes, while we were still sinners and his enemies, he died for us.

Therefore, with the eyes of Jesus may we see all the people that God puts in our path today, and always, as his precious children, and love them. Let us ask the Lord for the ability to be patient, gentle, self-controlled, … and faithful.  And in those times that we fall short, and our sinful nature gets the better of us, may we lay our guilt before him and be assured of his forgiveness. Then may the Lord use such opportunities for others to see his love in action through our repentance and humility towards those we have sinned against. Yes, with God’s help keeping these commands to love does not need to be burdensome. Oh they may not always be easy, but they need not be burdensome.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for loving me so much and being an example of how I am to love others. Help me to love all people, especially your children, but even those I may not know or can’t love on my own. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

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