Why do you obey God? Why do I obey God? This is what I have been asking myself these days.
We know the greatest commandment that Jesus gave to His disciples — and to us. We are to love the Lord with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength. And we also know the second commandment Jesus gave, that follows right after the first. That we are to love our neighbors like we love ourselves.
Both of these seem easy to say but hard to do. And I think we know that from the moment we read and recite these words. But I rarely stop at the words of the scribe in Mark 12. He questioned Jesus, tested Jesus. This, we know, is what the scribes did often just to prove Jesus to be faulty of a thousand different things. What comes after the testing, though, is the this one scribe’s insight into these commandments.
“And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (Mark 12:33)
Obedience Motivated by Love
I find it is easy to fall into religion, if I can say it that way. To go to church every Sunday, to read our Bibles every morning. To pray for a certain thing every day, just so we can check something off the list. These acts, we think, are signs of our devotion — and they are. But it is so important to check our hearts behind it. Do we do these things as our religious duty? Or do we do them because we truly love God?
You see, every act of obedience is empty if we do not love God first. The heart behind the actions is really what matters. Obedience can cost so much, but it is worth nothing if it isn’t motivated by love.
Friend, I know I am not perfect in this. Pretty far from perfect, to be honest. I read my Bible in the morning because it is routine, and it can be just routine on some days. And this revelation? It is actually quite hurtful. But I’m glad that the Lord is showing this to me. I want all that I do, to be done out of love. So I need to notice these things and to pray for more love. We can obey God without loving Him. But when we love Him, obedience will follow.
Now, obedience is not easy. And it can definitely feel more than all the other sacrifices we have made. But I believe that to obey God, is to find freedom in Him.