GOD NEEDS PROOF OF YOUR LOVE FOR HIM
So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me. (John 21:15-19).
Usually, people only need to be asked once whether they love someone else, or at least once a day, and never thrice in close succession the way Jesus asked Peter. In fact, Peter was sorely grieved when his Master asked him a third time whether he loved Him. “Lord, you are the only begotten omniscient Son of God who knows everything. There is not a single thing hidden from you. In fact, you have known everything every single person would ever do and think before the foundation of the world. And yet you ask me whether I love you? Do I need to tell you that I love you when you already know all things?”
Certainly, Jesus Christ knows all things but do we who call ourselves Christians and his followers actually know what it means to love Him? You see, to love God is not merely a say-love; it is a do-love and most often a do-not-love. Peter was so sure that he loved Jesus, and indeed there is no doubt that he did, but he had to learn the do-love by feeding God’s lambs and sheep, and also that this kind of feeding more often than not ends up in your final demise here on earth. Let us remind ourselves at this stage how Jesus defines love for Him.
If ye love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15).
That seems to be concise enough for everyone to understand what He meant, no so? For the sake of clarity, we need to ask ourselves to which commandments Jesus referred when He said this. Was He referring to the Ten Commandments? He could not have referred to the Ten Commandments because in his Sermon on the Mount He repeatedly said, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, . . . but I say unto you . . .” His Sermon on the Mount commandments are more stringent than the Ten Commandments because they reveal the heart of man and not just his powerless and measly little efforts to keep the Ten Commandments.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jer 17:9)
DO YOU LOVE ME? — THE DO-NOT-LOVE
DO NOT MURMUR
Shall we now journey through the Bible to learn what it means to love God? We have briefly looked at the do-love in Peter’s life. We shall now look at the do-not-love. Israel’s journey through the wilderness after God had rescued her from her bondage to slavery in Egypt will help us to understand the do-not-love. Let us turn to the book of Deuteronomy.
And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments (and love Him), or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live. (Deuteronomy 8:2-3).
God’s concern for the condition of your heart is more important to Him than your daily food sustenance. In Egypt, the Israelite suffered as slaves but they had enough to eat. In that sense, they could at least be content with their suffering as slaves in Egypt. However, in the wilderness where they were finally and completely liberated from their suffering as slaves, God allowed them to suffer the pangs of hunger and thirst to teach them what it really meant to be free when God sets you free. They had to learn how not to live by bread alone but by every single word that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD. Instead, they began to grumble and bemoan their circumstances in the wilderness, to the extent that they threatened to rid themselves of Moses and Aaron. Their lack of the do-not-love which God required of them began to eat away their souls.
Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt; they remembered not the multitude of thy mercies; but provoked him at the sea, even at the Red sea. Nevertheless he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known. He rebuked the Red sea also, and it was dried up: so he led them through the depths, as through the wilderness. And he saved them from the hand of him that hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy. And the waters covered their enemies: there was not one of them left. Then believed they his words; they sang his praise. They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel: But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul. (Psalm 106:7-15)
Christian, beware of murmuring, complaining, grumbling and ill-feelings toward God whenever you suffer in sickness, monetary loss, loneliness, rejection, hunger, or whatever it may be. God may be proving you to see whether you love Him with all your heart, mind and strength. The do-not-love opens your eyes to the meaning of Romans 8:28.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Be of good cheer because your love for Him and his love for you cushions all the things that cause your suffering. It teaches you to live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD. And by the way, you should never seek your joy in the betterment or improvement of your circumstances. That’s a see-saw kind of joy. Today you are in the clouds and tomorrow you are in the doldrums. No! Your and my joy is a Person and His Name is Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. (Philippians 3:1)
DO NOT LISTEN TO FALSE PROPHETS AND THEIR TEACHING
The other side of the coin of the do-not-love concerns false prophets and their hideous false teachings.
If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deut. 13:1-3).
God’s desire to prove his children’s love for Him seems to have intensified exponentially in these last of the last days. There has been a relentless increase in the number of false prophets and teachers that provide genuine Christians ample opportunities to prove their love for God. The only thing they need to do is “not to hearken unto the words of these false prophets.” Those who do, have already proved that they do not love God.
We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. (1 John 4:6-8).
Loving one another is more than hugging and telling others how much you love them. Loving one another is to feed the lambs and the sheep with God’s unadulterated Word so that they may learn that they cannot live by bread alone but by every single word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD, and NOT from the mouths of false prophets and teachers.
I know a man and his wife who’ve been missionaries for Christ many years, despite their physical shortcomings. The man is lame in both his legs and recently his wife started to suffer from Parkinson’s disease. They are both bedridden at the moment. Yet, they always end their missionary letter with “His happy slaves.” They know by experience what it means to have been liberated from their slavery in their own Egypt to being slaves of Jesus Christ. I salute you, valiant soldiers of the cross. Your lives are solid proof that his strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Remember! Your rewards are in heaven; not on this earth. Your example of being hopelessly in love with our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, is contagious.