Jesus makes it clear that obedience to God will bear the fruit of joy. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Jn. 15:10-12 So will obedience to God bring me joy? Absolutely. Here’s my understanding: If I seek to obey His explicit command to love those around me, it will re-energize me in God’s love. The result will be ongoing joy. Jesus sets the benchmark. His love was unto death, the single seed sown into the grave, to produce many seeds.
The Great Lover longs to produce great lovers.
Resisting Other Options
If obedience to God was super easy we’d all be doing it pretty much unhindered. But there are other options… the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Eph. 2:2-3 Disobedience will always present itself as an option. It’s an old maxim – you can’t stand still (tread water) on the Christian journey. You’re either moving forward or drifting back. What are some indicators that I’m on a forward trajectory and loving well?
If it’s a sacrifice, that’s a good indicator. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Jn. 15:13 Thankfully, the process of loving others is not ALWAYS hard. There are “people obstacles” ranging from trivial irritations to a downright dislike, bordering on contempt. Some of us are more of a challenge to love, right? Jesus gives the greater love benchmark because He was about to demonstrate it, all the way to forgiving those who were killing Him. He also proceeded to tell them that beyond the comfort of the fellowship meal they were currently sharing, their love for Him would wane.
A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. Jn. 16:32 People will not always come through for you, nor will you always come through for them. Fact of life. Thus it is vital that we remain in fellowship with the Father like Jesus did. We are never alone. One fruit of this: we will have the faith and courage to engage again in the precarious environs of getting close to people and allowing them to get close to us.
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. Jn. 15:15 Obedience to God in this primary command to love one another, does require vulnerability, which can be risky. But we must always include wisdom in the equation. In other words, we are not going to carelessly share EVERYTHING with EVERYBODY. The other unhealthy extreme, keeping the contents of our soul under lock and key and disclosing zero, builds walls and hinders love.
Prerequisite question: Do I myself know the deep contents of my soul? Guiding the saints into self discovery is one of the Holy Spirit’s assignments. Coupled with that, is our ongoing discovery of the character and attributes of God. I love this insight from John Calvin: Without knowledge of self, there is no knowledge of God. Our wisdom, insofar as it ought to be deemed true and solid wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But as these are connected by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two precedes and gives birth to the other. Wow! Only two moving parts here, but very complicated at times.
Doesn’t that have a dissonant ring to it? Of course we all need some alone time, but a lifestyle of seclusion and non-disclosure will not facilitate our obeying His command to love one another. Remember, Jesus desires that we abide in His love and enjoy the fullness of His joy. The “one another” component of love is our mandate to be a part of the corporate expression. For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy. 1 Thes. 2:19-20
Investing in others calls for sacrifice. Allowing them to invest in us calls for disclosure.
This is obedience to God, loving like Jesus did, and it will be your path to abiding joy.
For further study: The Joy of Abiding in God’s Love (video) Mike Bickle