If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love (John 15:10, ESV). In any great endeavor, there comes that point—after all the planning, all the build-up, all the cheerleading and dream-casting—when it’s just time to get to work. Time to do it. And in reading Scripture, we see that Jesus isn’t shy about inserting this expectation into the Christian life. If we’re warm to the whole idea of finding joy in Him, walking closely with Him, living in the full blessing and privilege of relationship with Him, that’s great. But . . . let’s not forget the part about keeping His commandments. Obeying Him.
The air sort of leaks out of the balloon at that point for some people. But that’s what Jesus says it takes to “abide in [His] love.” We’ve missed the boat on what it truly means to be obedient to Christ. We’ve turned it into a to-do list. We’ve turned it into a juggling act, and when one ball drops, our whole rhythm is shot. Soon we drop another. Then another. We can’t do this. And yet that’s actually a good place to be—“can’t do this”—frustrated at what you can’t do, discouraged at how far short you fall in trying to live like Christ—because living like Him is not only difficult, it’s impossible. Jesus didn’t rise from the dead so He could watch you try to be more like Him. He rose from the dead so He could live His life through you. The grace that saves you is the same grace that sanctifies you. So this may be the best news you’ll receive all day: the secret to abiding is obeying, but abiding is what leads to obeying. Obedience doesn’t come from willing yourself to practice more Christlike behavior—promising how strong you’re going to be next time, declaring what you’re never going to let happen again. When Jesus commands your obedience, He is actually commanding you to “abide” in Him—to remain at rest, give Him all your burdens, and draw new strength from Him. That’s where all your energy to obey is found. “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8)—a statement that’s as true for the redeemed as it is for the unconverted. But “as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him” (Colossians 2:6). Then you’ll be abiding—and obeying. No juggling skills required. JOURNAL How would you personalize the juggling act of obedience? What’s that like for you? In what ways do you now see where the struggle to obey is fueled by a failure to abide?
PRAY Lord, thank You for wanting me close to You and for providing a way through grace so I can experience true nearness to You. Help me keep coming back to You, desiring to be even closer, always recognizing the cost of disobedience will interfere with the intimacy in our relationship. I ask for the strength that I need for obeying You, serving You, and loving others because of how You’ve first loved me. In Jesus’ name, amen.