In John 14:15, Jesus Christ gave us a simple litmus test to see if we really love Him. Does loving God require action on our part?
What does John 14:15 say?
“If you love Me, keep My commandments.”
Most of the Christian world would be quick to answer this question with a resounding yes! But it may not be as simple as they think.
We should love God—He absolutely wants us to love Him! But what does it actually mean to love Him?
Many people profess that they love God—and express it verbally. But do they love Him enough to show love to Him as He commanded? Do they even understand what it means to love God?
It may sound surprising, but most professing Christians don’t love God according to His definition of love.
God tells us exactly what it means to love Him.
The Bible gives us clear instructions on how God wants us to manifest our love for Him. Unfortunately, much of the world today ignores His words.
So, what does it really mean to love God? Let’s explore what His Word says.
If you love Him, keep His commandments
In John 14:15, Jesus Christ made it quite clear how His disciples were to show their love for Him: “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”
That’s it. No qualifiers. No “ifs.” No excuses. If someone truly loves Jesus Christ, then he or she will keep His commandments.
Jesus Christ made this same point on five different occasions throughout this discourse, saying:
- “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15).
- “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is He who loves Me” (verse 21).
- “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word” (verse 23).
- “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love” (John 15:10).
- “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (verse 14).
If people truly love God, they will demonstrate it in the way that they live their lives. If Jesus Christ, the Son of God, repeated the same point five times on the evening before His death, He wants us to take note of it.
His words can be boiled down to a simple “if, then” statement:
If you love God, then you will keep His commandments.
The inverse is also true:
If you don’t keep God’s commandments, then you don’t really love Him.
Saying you love God is good. Singing praises to Him is good. But what God really wants from us is obedience (1 Samuel 15:22).
The problem is, most people don’t want to be obedient to God (Romans 8:7).
Why do so many claim to follow Christ, but so few actually practice the same things He did? All too often, professing Christians loudly proclaim their love, but they stop there. They don’t continue to do what Christ expects them to do as a result of that love.
Imagine a newly married couple. Saying “I love you” would mean little if one of them went out and cheated on the other. The words “I love you” would ring hollow because of his or her conduct.
The same applies to those who say they love God but continue to ignore His commandments. They don’t really love Him—not in any way that has value.
This kind of love is hollow—it is meaningless. You can loudly proclaim your love—you can sing it from the rooftops—but, at the end of the day, words are just words and songs are just songs. God expects—He deserves—more than that.
Passive love isn’t enough
Most people aren’t deliberately disobeying God. Many professing Christians genuinely believe that they are truly showing Him love with the way that they live their lives. The problem, ultimately, is that our world has twisted the very meaning of love.
Many in mainstream Christianity have gutted love of responsibility and reduced it to a mere feeling. They claim that feeling love for God is enough and that nothing else is required.
Some take scriptures like 1 John 5:1 out of context. It says, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him.”
Doesn’t that tell us that all we need to do is love God and believe in Him? Let’s keep reading:
“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments” (verse 2, emphasis added throughout).
John continues in verse 3: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”
As John pointed out, there is far more to real love than the passive form so often promoted today. God expects action on our part. After all, “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17).
Jesus reprimanded those who would call Him “Lord,” yet disobey His commandments, comparing such people to a man who built his house on the sand (Luke 6:46-49).
If people truly love God, they will demonstrate it in the way that they live their lives. Thankfully, God gave us an entire book dedicated to teaching us how to live our love for Him.
That leaves us with one remaining question: Which of God’s commandments do we keep?
Which commandments do we keep?
Jesus didn’t say, “If you love Me, keep the commandments that work best for you,” or, “If you love Me, keep the commandments that fit best with your lifestyle.”
Jesus said, “Keep My commandments,” implying all of His commandments—every single one. Whether it is convenient or not. No, Jesus said, “Keep My commandments,” implying all of His commandments—every single one. Whether it is convenient or not.
If our love for God only leads us to keep the commandments that are convenient for us, then our love is shallow indeed.
So, which of God’s commandments should we keep?
All of them.
Every single one. The ones that are easy for us—and the ones that aren’t. The ones that are convenient for us—and the ones that take more effort. It isn’t up to us to decide which commandments to follow.
(For more information on the relevance of the 10 Commandments today, read our article “Did Jesus’ Commandments Replace the 10 Commandments?”)
Love Him and keep His commandments
Those who love God—who truly love God—are those who listen to what He says. It isn’t up to us to choose how we worship Him. God tells us precisely how He wants us to love Him: by doing what He tells us to do.
It sounds simple. That’s because it is simple (though not always easy). Our choice is as simple as hearing what He says and doing it.
No amount of words can ever take the place of real obedience. No music—no matter how heartfelt—can replace a submissive attitude. Even acts of goodness and charity can take us only so far in God’s eyes if we aren’t willing to follow Him and obey Him.
Do you love God? Prove it with obedience.