The other day I was reading one of my favorite sections of the Bible: John 14-17. During Jesus Christ’s last few hours spent with His closest disciples prior to His death, He provides them (and us) with some extremely encouraging messages describing how each of us can enjoy a deep relationship with Him and His Father.
As I was reading John 15:10 John 15:10If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
American King James Version×, I saw the scripture in a new light. The verse reads, “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.” Most of us don’t use the word “abide” too often. In English, as in the original Greek, it has the meaning of remaining or staying with something.
In the past, I’ve read that verse as if Christ is telling His disciples (and us since we were also on His mind that night—John 17:20 John 17:20Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
American King James Version×) something almost punitive. I had seen the statement as something like, “If you don’t do what I say, I won’t love you anymore.” As if God will withhold His love from us if we decide to thumb our noses at His instructions.
But that is not who God and His Son show themselves to be like throughout the Bible. Even when disciplining figures in biblical history (as He may do when correcting us after our mistakes), God never stops loving. He is not stingy with His love for us. Love is what He is at His core and saturates everything about Him (1 John 4:7-8 1 John 4:7-8 7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God.
8 He that loves not knows not God; for God is love.
American King James Version×). If God is omnipotent and omniscient (Daniel 4:35 Daniel 4:35And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he does according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say to him, What do you?
American King James Version×; Isaiah 40:28 Isaiah 40:28Have you not known? have you not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, faints not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
American King James Version×; Isaiah 43:13 Isaiah 43:13Yes, before the day was I am he; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who shall let it?
American King James Version×; Jeremiah 32:27 Jeremiah 32:27Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?
American King James Version×; Psalms 147:5 Psalms 147:5Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.
American King James Version×), then so is His love.
It struck me that Christ is once again emphasizing that His and God’s commandments point us to His love. Abiding, remaining, being saturated in God’s love is what He intends for each of us. As we follow Him and do what He tells us, since He is our Creator and knows what is best for us, we act and think and behave in a way where we fully experience God’s love as He intends each of us to experience. And in being obedient to Him, we reflect His love toward others and back to Him. We are able to understand God’s love in its fullest extent. His instructions are His expression of love toward us because they help us grow in all of our relationships and live our best lives.
If you are feeling out of sync with God or with others, study God’s commandments. A few years ago, I read through the Bible with the intent of copying down every Scripture where there is an imperative, a command, in the wording. I called it my playbook because I felt like it helped me focus in on some of the more direct lessons God intends to convey to us. If you sit down and study and meditate on God’s commandments, you come to see that He gives us the boundaries that protect us and those around us. To obey God is to feel His love for us to the fullest extent. May you abide in God’s love.