This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 1 John 5:2
When I was young, whenever my doting Aunt Betty visited, it felt like Christmas. She’d bring Star Wars toys and slip me cash on her way out the door. Whenever I stayed with her, she filled the freezer with ice cream and never cooked vegetables. She had few rules and let me stay up late. My aunt was marvelous, reflecting God’s generosity. However, to grow up healthy, I needed more than only Aunt Betty’s way. I also needed my parents to place expectations on me and my behavior and hold me to them.
God asks more of me than Aunt Betty. While He floods us with relentless love, a love that never wavers even when we resist or run away, He does expect something of us. When God instructed Israel how to live, He provided Ten Commandments, not ten suggestions (Exodus 20:1–17). Aware of our self-deception, God offers clear expectations: we’re to “[love] God and [carry] out his commands” (1 John 5:2).
Thankfully, “[God’s] commands are not burdensome” (v. 3). By the Holy Spirit’s power, we can live them out as we experience God’s love and joy. His love for us is unceasing. But the Scriptures offer a question to help us know if we love God in return: Are we obeying His commands as the Spirit guides us?
We can say we love God, but what we do in His strength tells the real story.
When do you find it most difficult to obey God? How does this connection between obedience and love offer new insight for your life in Christ?
God, I say I love You, but it’s hard to love. It’s hard to obey. Help me see the truth and to love You with my actions.
In 1 John 5, John addresses two of his favorite topics and their relationship to each other: love and God’s commandments. Verse 2 could be considered a summary of John’s theology. Love and obedience are so intertwined that one is considered a demonstration, or proof, of the other.
Sounding much like Jesus when He identified not just the most important, but the two most important commands (see Matthew 22:34–40; Mark 12:28–33), John connects the love of God with love of others. He says that anyone who loves the Father “loves his child as well” (1 John 5:1). Obedience to His commandments isn’t just a demonstration of love for God but also shows love for the children of God (vv. 2–3).
In the gospel of John, Jesus tells His disciples that if they love Him, they’ll keep His commands (14:15, 21; 15:10)—one of which was to love one another.