IF YOU LOVE GOD. . . (The dangers of an ultimatum)

“If I speak in tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”  – 1 Corinthians 13:1-2

“Love is not premeditated – it is spontaneous.” – Oswald Chambers

We often find ourselves preaching about discipline, or denial, or tasks. We often find ourselves using the phrase “we should be doing these things out of our love for God,” yet often find ourselves condemning those unwilling to complete those tasks.

My question is what if those tasks aren’t completed because the person tasked with them knows they aren’t doing them out of love? What if the one tasked is simply  listening to what we’re saying? Do we give them an ultimatum to “do better or else?” Or do we tell them to seek God first?

I fear the answer is too often an ultimatum. I fear too often we give a “do it or lose us’ response. I fear we often respond with the guilt trip, rather than giving them a reason to love God to the point of obedience. I fear we aren’t really  listening to our own advice.

In our inconsistency and the inconsistency of others, especially in those we disciple, we should be avoiding the ultamatum at all costs, and should begin recognizing the problem at it’s heart. We must recognize the lack of love.

In our failed goals and failed attempts at showing our godliness and love for God out of task completion, we must examine ourselves and our peers, and ask ourselves: are we completing these tasks out of a longing to love God, and know Him better because of that love? Or are we completing these tasks because we’ve been told that if we don’t, we don’t love God?

“If you love me, keep my commands.” – John 14:15

This verse can sound very legalistic to us. It brings with it a tone of salvation to be earned. Yet to truly understand, we must change the language. What if the “if” in this verse was a “because?”

This verse is not about legalism, but rather the end result. It is about the fruit that pours out when we love our God, not the things we do to prove that we love Him. It is about what happens when we embrace Him and deny us – which is true love! And through that true love, we long to serve the one we love. It is not “if” we love Him, but “because” we love Him that we will do His will and obey His commands. It is not task completion that earns His love, but rather His love that leads to our obedience.

As Romans 6:11 says, we shall consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to Him, and in Him there is no legalism – only love.

Obedience is rooted in love. Love is not rooted in obedience.

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2 thoughts on “IF YOU LOVE GOD. . . (The dangers of an ultimatum)

  1. I would agree, it is because we love God we keep His commands.

    I like the ESV of the verse. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” There is to me an association that those who love Jesus also keep His commandments. And it’s not by a persons work but the working of the Holy Spirit in and through the person.

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