We Obey God Out of Love, Not Fear
By Rick Warren
“You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14 NLT, second edition).
Jesus said in John 15:14, “You are my friends if you do what I command” (NLT, second edition).
You can’t say you love Jesus and then go live like the devil. You can’t say you’re a Christian and then keep on living a self-centered life. You can’t say you’re a follower of Jesus and then pick and choose the verses that you want to listen to and ignore the ones you don’t. Jesus says you’re his friend if you obey him and his commandments.
Why do we obey God? Nonbelievers get this wrong all the time. They say, “I don’t want to be a Christian because I don’t want to obey God. You believers obey him out of guilt or fear or obligation, and I don’t want that for my life.”
Why do we really obey God? Because he loves us! He wants the best for us. He loves you like nobody else will ever love you. The Bible says the only reason there’s love in the world is because God is love. We don’t obey God out of fear or guilt or obligation. We obey God out of love because he loved us and saved us.
When I was a kid in high school, a guy came up to me and said, “You’re restricted.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Because you’re a Christian. You can’t do any of the fun stuff the rest of us do.”
I looked him in the eye and said, “I could take all the drugs I want to take. I could get stoned all I want to get stoned. I could drink all I want to drink. I could go to all the parties I want to go to. I could go to bed with as many women as I want.” But here’s the difference: Jesus changed my “want to.” I didn’t want to do those things then. I don’t want to do those things now. They are cheap, phony thrills that seem to give a temporary kick to life but then they kick back. They may look like freedom, but they don’t last, and they lead to despair, not dignity — depression, not delight.
John 15:9-11 says, “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me ... When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”
God doesn’t want you to obey him because you’re afraid of him. He doesn’t want you to obey him because you’re scared of punishment. God wants you to obey him because of love. It’s his love that leads to true joy.
Talk It Over
- To obey, you have to know what God tells you to do. How can you know what God wants you to do?
- How have you sometimes seen obedience to God as leading to restriction?
- How have you seen obedience to God as leading to freedom?
- How can parents teach their children to obey out of love and not fear? What would obeying out of love and not fear look like?
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This devotional © 2016 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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