“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word.”
The Christian life is not lived in a vacuum. It is not lived to oneself alone, nor is the Christian life the life of self-love. It is a life lived of sacrificial love. As our Lord loved us in Christ, so also do we love others (John 13:34; 1 John 4:7-11). Yet, the love that we have toward others as God’s children does not begin with our love toward others. We do not in anyway generate this kind of state of being towards our neighbor, nor can we. Such love for others, freely given and unconditional, can only come from Him who Himself gives freely and unconditionally, “without any merit or worthiness in us.”
God loves you unconditionally, and gives freely to you all that you need in this life. But even more than your physical needs, God provides you a Savior from sin, death, and the devil. This Savior, none other than Jesus Christ, by His death has swallowed up your death, done away with your sin, and frees you from slavery to the devil.
Even though you had not first loved Him, God loved you, demonstrating that love in the death of His Son (Romans 5:8). Now, because of His love, you love and seek to love others. As He loves you unconditionally, so you also love others unconditionally. As God loves you because you are His, so you also love others because God also loves them.
This love which we now have for others, coming as it does from God, first shows itself, however, immediately and continually in the love which we have towards God’s Word and the hearing of that Word. Jesus Himself says, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My Word” (John 14:23). Thus will the Christian be in the Word, not only hearing it preached and gathering around Word and Sacrament. The Christian will also be about studying that Word, for it is not man’s, but God’s, and “is spirit and life” (John 6:63). Christians will also “test” what they hear, read, and see to ensure that it is according to truth of our Lord. In this way, God will keep them (and us) a holy people for Himself, for it is through the Word that our Lord sanctifies and keeps us in the true faith.
(Referring to Galatians 1:15, “When God was pleased…”) “This is as though Paul were saying: ‘It is only the unspeakable kindness of God that He has not only spared me—a good-for-nothing, a criminal, a blasphemer, and a sacrilegious man—but that He has also given me the knowledge of salvation, His Spirit, Christ His Son, the apostolic office, and life eternal.’ Seeing us in similar sins, God has not only pardoned our wickedness and blasphemies out of His sheer mercy for the sake of Christ; but He has also showered us with His great blessings and spiritual gifts. But many among us not only, as 2 Peter 1:9 says, ‘have forgotten that they were cleansed from their old sins’; but, opening a window to the devil again, they begin to loathe His Word, and many also pervert it and thus become the founders of new sects. The last sate of such men is worse than the first.” (Luther’s Lectures on Galatians, LW 26, p71)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, do not leave us to ourselves and to our own selfish desires. Uphold us by Your Holy Word, that we resist the devil and ever more love Your Word and love Your people. Amen.
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