By Elder Enoch Ofori Jnr
(Sabbath, 17th March, 2012)
Does Loving God Burden You?
When we come to think of it, we can never thank God enough for His free gift of salvation. Eternal life is not earned, so is His grace—or "grace will not be grace" (Rom. 11:6).
But God must be loved, and there is something we must do to show that we love Him. That thing is the keeping of His commandments. Jesus Himself tells us in John 14:15: "If you love Me, keep My commandments". Apostle John re-echoes the same call in 1 John 5:3: "This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (ESV).
Love is a powerful feeling; it’s having a strong, intense affection for a person in which you seem to throw your whole being into pleasing and satisfying him or her. In that mood of intense affection, nothing is too difficult to do for love. Because of Jacob’s great love for Rachel, when he had to shepherd his uncle Laban’s flock for seven years to have her for wife, the years "seemed to him but a few days, for the love he had to her" (Gen. 29:20), not to mention the additional 7 years he served for her after the first seven years because Leah was given to him first (vv. 21-30). There’s no way the obligations of love can be a burden provided the love is true. The desire to please your beloved not only overrides all considerations, but also overcomes all hindrances and hesitations.
The same applies to the believer’s love for God. If we will love God, we must demonstrate that it’s not hard loving Him! We prove that by doing the things that please Him as zealously and wholeheartedly (Mark 12:30) as we will do for a person we genuinely love! Since the things that please God are the keeping of His commandments (Lev. 26:3-12; Isa. 56:4; John 8:29), disobedience to His commandments can in no way mean we love Him. Disobedience puts us in the opposite camp—among those who hate Him (Ex. 20:5; Deut. 7:10).
Now, does the keeping of God’s commandments weigh you down? Do you refuse to keep it or resent it in some way? Do you keep it grudgingly and not as a duty of love you owe to a loved One?
If your answer is ‘yes’ to any of the above, your love for God is suspect. You have failed the test of love for Him, which is enthusiastic, wholehearted obedience to His commandments: "O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!" (Deut. 5:29).
If you have the desire to love God but helplessly fall short, it’s time to ask Him to give you a circumcised heart to love Him through obedience to His law (Deut. 29:4, 30:6; Jer. 4:4; Rom. 2:25-29). This is a regenerated, Holy Spirit-filled heart which satisfies the righteous requirements of the Law as a matter of course, because its basic nature has changed from the carnal to the spiritual (Rom. 8:1-4; Ez. 11:19-20; cp Rom. 8:7). David prayed in Psalm 86:11,"unite my heart to fear Your name".
Bask in Divine Love Bonanza!
Once your love for God is demonstrated through the keeping of His commandments, there is no end to the gifts of His love and grace you stand to receive from Him as His way of loving you back. It’s a commitment the LORD does not toy with. He declared in Ex. 20:6 while proclaiming the Ten Commandments to the Israelites from the top of Mount Sinai out of the midst of fire: "I show lovingkindness to thousands of those who love Me and keep My commandments". In Deut 7:9 Moses re-echoed the LORD: "Know therefore that the LORD thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations".
The word translated "loving-kindness" in the NASB and "mercy" in the KJV is "chesed" (Strong’s #2617) and basically means: ‘favour, goodness, kindness, mercy, faithfulness’.
Nobody knows how to love better than God. To those who love Him by keeping His commandments, He shows them His "favour, goodness, kindness, mercy, and faithfulness", and it’s for aeons—"a thousand generations" (Ps. 105:8)! To such ones "all things work together for good" in accordance with God’s predetermined purpose for them (Rom. 8:28). Indeed, the richness of the LORD’S goodness towards those who love by keeping His commandments is beyond their whole gamut of expectation and imagination:
"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him" (2 Cor. 2:9).
Love for God expressed through the keeping of His Commandments releases the deepest affections of God. Those who love God shine as the sun in its strength (Judges 5:31); they are impossible to plunge into darkness; their righteousness shine as the light in the noon day (Ps 37:4-6); they are delivered from trouble and honoured and granted long life (Ps 91:14-16). Indeed, peace is their lot (Ps 119:165). While He destroys the wicked, the LORD protects those who love Him (Ps 145:20) and gives them crown of life and righteousness at the return of Christ (Jam. 1:12; 2 Tim. 4:8). What love relationship can be as rewarding as loving God?
Loving Him can never be a burden. It’s pure bliss. Bliss that never ends.