Friday, July 31, 2009

How Do We Know If We Really Love Him or Not?

How do we know if we really love the L-rd?

The "litmus test", if you will, is as Jesus instructed His disciples in John 14:15:

"If ye love Me, keep My commandments."

The L-rd reiterated this important injunction again in verse 21:

"He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me:
and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father,
and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him."

That's pretty straight-forward, isn't it? Of course, the L-rd knows our hearts, whether we love Him or not. But He also knows that there will be evidence of our love! And too, how do we know that someone loves the L-rd, unless we see the evidence for it?

How is our love for our spouse, for our children evidenced? We desire to please them, don't we? We do things for them, care for their needs, spend time with them. We nurture those very precious relationships!

What if your spouse or children seldom considered you or your feelings in regard to how they lived or the decisions they made? What if they gave little notice or recognition for the things you did for them? Would you feel loved? Could they even convince you that they loved you?

When we see children neglected, we determine that they are not loved.

Contrast that with how we show our love for our L-rd!

How can we say we love the L-rd if we neglect Him, and neglect to obey Him?

Sadly, I believe most of us fall very
short in this area. We put more thought and effort into the pursuit of our own happiness than we do the L-rd's. Our prayer life consists of a request list pages long, while giving little thought to what we can do for His good pleasure!

We are such selfish creatures. But you know, the word L-O-V-E does not have an "I" in it!

The proof of our love for the L-rd is in our obedience to Him, denying ourselves!

Notice the very precious promise if we keep G-d's commandments, thereby loving Him:

We will be loved by the Father and the L-rd Jesus will manifest Himself to us.

Wow---did you get that? The more love we show the L-rd by our obedience to Him, the more He reveals of Himself to us.

But doesn't that make sense? The more love someone shows us, the more we want to be with them, and the more we are willing to be "vulnerable" and share ourselves with them---right?

Except, it seems, when it comes to the L-rd. He showers His blessings upon us---over and above giving us our salvation; He proves His love to us every day! But we go merrily on our way, oblivious to the things of the L-rd, so caught up in our jobs, duties, pleasures, that we have little time for the L-rd!

Are you getting as convicted as I am about now??

Later on in verses 23, 24, the L-rd continues to explain about this cause and effect regarding loving and obeying:

"....If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and my Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

He that loveth Me not keepeth not my sayings...."

Boy, the L-rd doesn't mince words---pretty clear, huh?!!

The L-rd Jesus is very clear in spelling out the fact that if we do not obey Him, we do not love Him.

But, hey----we can't obey God's Word if we don't know what He says in it!
Daily Bible reading---really taking time to hear from the L-rd---is essential in being obedient to Him!

In Matthew 7:16 Jesus advised His disciples regarding others who claim to be of G-d,
"Ye shall know them by their fruits."

Verses 17-21 expand on this statement:

"Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit;
but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit,
neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down,
and cast into the fire.

Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Not everyone that saith unto Me, L-rd, L-rd,
shall enter into the kingdom of heaven;
but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."

There is no middle ground, no gray area here. We know if we love the L-rd, and we know if others love the L-rd, if our/their fruit----the way we/they talk, the things we/they do, the beliefs and attitudes we/they have----line up with G-d's Word!

If someone loves the L-rd, they will be living and obeying G-d's Words.

It's as simple as that!

Do We Love Him?

"Do you l-o-o-v-e me?"

"Do I what?"

"Do you l-o-o-v-e me?"

"Do I love you?
With our daughters getting married
And this trouble in the town
You're upset, you're worn out
Go inside, Go lie down!
Maybe its indigestion."

"Goldie, I'm asking you a question....
Do you love me?"

"You're a fool."

"I know....
But do you love me?"

"Do I love you?
For twenty-five years I've washed your clothes
Cooked your meals, cleaned your house
Given you children, milked the cow
After twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?".................


"I know...
But do you love me?"

"Do I love him?
For twenty-five years I've lived with him
Fought with him, starved with him
Twenty-five years my bed is his
If that's not love, what is?"

"Then you love me?"

"I suppose I do."

"And I suppose I love you, too."

So goes the conversation between Tevye and his wife, Goldie, in The Fiddler on the Roof.

This reminds me a little of the conversation between the L-rd and Peter in John 15:21-17.

Our L-rd had just dined with his disciples.....a close-knit group, especially after three years of following the L-rd together and going through the events of the crucifixion and resurrection. I'm sure it would be an understatement to say that the bonds that were forged went very deep and lasted a lifetime!

The L-rd Jesus put Peter on the spot:
"Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me more than these?"

Peter answered the L-rd, "Yea, L-rd; Thou knowest that I love Thee."

Jesus' reply to Peter: "Feed my lambs."

But, Jesus pursued this questioning further---
"He saith unto him a second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me?"

Peter's answer the second time:
"Yea L-rd; Thou knowest that I love Thee."

Jesus answers, "Feed my sheep."

The L-rd was not finished with His questioning of Peter's love for Him. Remember that Peter had earlier denied the L-rd three times. It was three times that the L-rd questioned Peter if he loved Him!

"He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?"

"Peter was grieved because He said unto him the third time, Lovest thou Me?
And he said unto Him, L-rd Thou knowest all things;
Thou knowest that I love thee."

Should it not, would it not it grieve us, too, if the L-rd had to ask us three times if we loved Him??

Jesus did not come up with a third option for Peter.
"Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep."

During the '70s, the big word in our society (other than "peace") was LOVE, sometimes written, LUV.

"What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It's the only thing that there's just too little of....", as the old song goes....

Churches picked up on that mantra, and soon the age of "easy-believism" burgeoned forth! Fewer pastors preached on sin, leaving behind the Ten Commandments (no wonder they were driven out of the schools!), giving way to sermons on social change and "loving" your neighbor. Holding hands, swaying to "Kumbaya", lots of hugs and shallow relationships.....this was the stuff of the 70's.

If anyone made doctrine an issue, they didn't have "love". Doctrine wasn't important....truth was cast aside in the name of "love". "Everybody get together. Try and love one another right now." That was the ultimate goal of the church in those days.

The focus was man-centered. Loving your fellow man, of course, would lead to pleasing your fellow man and all that implies. Somehow, though, the L-rd was relegated to second place in all that euphoric celebrating of "love".

What Jesus specifically told His disciples was explicitly ignored!

If you will recall, He reiterated to them the teaching of the First Commandment:

"The first of all the commandments is,
Hear O Israel; the L-rd our G-d is one L-rd:

And thou shalt love the L-rd thy G-d with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

There is none other commandment greater than these."..............Matthew 12:29-31

How are we to really love others if we do not love the L-rd FIRST?! Sadly, I think our priorities get reversed. We love ourselves first, our families, our friends, and the L-rd is worked in there somewhere.

Do we l-o-o-v-e Him?

To be continued.......