Browse Weekly Wisdoms

Weekly Wisdoms for the week of January 29, 2018

Love God and do as you please.

St. Augustine, an influential Christian author of the fourth century A.D., wrote this: "Love God and do as you please." On the surface, that may seem like a license for sin—"As long as I love God, I can do anything I want, and God's okay with whatever I do."

But Augustine seemed to realize that if you genuinely love God, then you will want to do what honors him most. Just as a married woman who loves her husband will want to make him look good, lift him up, and honor him, so also a person who loves God will want to glorify, magnify, and honor him. If you truly love God, then his Holy Spirit will transform you such that what pleases God will become what pleases you.

Jesus, who is God, made this observation: "If you love me, you will obey what I command" (John 14:15). Similarly, the Apostle John wrote, "This is love for God: to obey his commands" (1 John 5:3). And finally, the Psalmist wrote, "I obey your statutes, for I love them greatly" (Psalm 119:167).

When we love God, then we want to obey him; obeying him becomes a sign that we love him. Jesus linked love for God with obeying the commandments (i.e., with obeying God's law) in this way: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments" (Matthew 22:37-40).

If you love God, then his Holy Spirit, who dwells in you, will conform you—all of you, including your desires—into the image of his Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). In this way, what pleases you and what pleases God become one and the same such that if you love God, you can do whatever pleases you and God will be pleased.

We can be joyful at all times not because we are spared affliction but because we are completely satisfied in Christ.

Jesus promises that we will suffer. In Matthew 10:17-18, Jesus warns his followers, "Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles." Although that quote may seem distant or irrelevant to Christians today, the point remains that, in the words of Christ, "if the head of the house [Jesus himself] has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!"

Not only does Jesus promise that believers must suffer, the Apostle Paul assures us that the path to being an heir of God demands sharing in the sufferings of Christ (Romans 8:17). Similarly, Paul writes this to those in the church at Philippi: it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him (Philippians 1:29).

Clearly, we, as Christians, will not be spared affliction. (In addition to the Scriptures above, see Acts 9:15-16, Philippians 3:10-11, and 1 Timothy 1:8-9.)

Despite being assured affliction and suffering, Christ-followers can be joyful nonetheless.

We can be joyful not by creating a bubbly-faced facade of happiness to hide reality but rather by confidently knowing that, in the face of immense sin and suffering, we are secure in Christ. Why fear and be saddened by those who can only kill the body when you're protected by Him who can keep you from hell (Luke 12:4-7)? Or, to put it positively, rejoice that you have received the Holy Spirit, who guarantees your eternal salvation—and thus, your eternal joy (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

The faith that justifies is the very same faith that satisfies. Saving faith satisfies us by weaning us from the short-lived satisfaction of sin to ultimate satisfaction in Christ.

Thus, despite the fact that suffering will come even—or, perhaps, especially—to us who profess faith in Christ, we can have great joy not because we are spared affliction but because we are completely satisfied in Christ.

Recent Weekly Wisdoms
February 19
February 12
February 5
January 29
  • Love God and do as you please.
  • We can be joyful at all times ...
January 22
Archive