The book of 1 John is amazing. I have been challenged, broken, beaten and convicted by the verses that small book contains. Recently, while on vacation, I was struck by a passage in 1 John 5, which has been a tough piece of meat to chew on.
1 John 5:3 says: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”
His commandments are not burdensome.
Not burdensome. This struck me, because I never thought THAT about God’s commands. In fact, when I look at some of them, I would say they put a “heavy load” upon me. They are actually meant to be without burden?
My immediate reaction was something like: “John, are you joking? OK, I understand that following the Commandments of God are required of me, I know that they are good and right and you can determine whether or not I know God by how well I follow them…but not a burden? What are you smoking?”
Probably not your “typical” Pastoral response but hey I would throw “typical” or “expected” out the window when authenticity can be so much better, not to mention more healing (as well as revealing).
This verse has been going through my mind a lot recently. Taking the book of 1 John as a whole, it is a refutation of false doctrine as well as a small handbook for Christians to do heart checks as to whether they truly are following Christ, or not. It is a great book to determine whether you’re a Christian or not. With that said, John while coming to the close of this book, reminds the believer the utter importance of God’s commands.
1 John 5:1-5 says:
” 1A)”>(A) Everyone who believes thatB)”>(B) Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, andC)”>(C) everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2D)”>(D) By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3ForE)”>(E) this is the love of God, that weF)”>(F) keep his commandments. AndG)”>(G) his commandments are not burdensome. 4ForH)”>(H) everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—I)”>(I) our faith. 5Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believesJ)”>(J) that Jesus is the Son of God?”
Loving God=Following His commands.
Some people will take these verses and do whack job things with it. Some will say that if you sin at all, even once after conversion, you’re not truly saved. This person obviously didn’t read 1 John 1:5-2:2. Others will say that these verses don’t say that this means what we think it means and will downplay the importance of the message.
Legalism kills as we see in Matthew 23, but so does apathy.
This is where 1 John 5:3 comes into play. We don’t beat our chest and try to do the commandments of God by ourselves. We don’t do do do…it is about surrender.
We must first come to the point that we realize that God is our creator. Next we must realize that God Loves us more deeply than we can imagine. After we sort of grasp that (I don’t think this side of heaven we will ever FULLY grasp this), we then must come to the conclusion that he (since he loves us) has our best interest in mind. This is how eventually his commandments no longer become burdensome, but blessings. It is a hard mind shift, I know I have been wrestling with it for a month and anticipate much longer!
God created us. He knows how we work best. When he says to do something or NOT to do something…it’s because doing those things or not doing those things is how we work best. He is a loving Father, with eons of life experience who knows the traps and folly that following Satan brings. He desires your best. He desires my best.
I am praying that I can experience the fullness of this verse. Where doing what God commands is not burdensome. I need to surrender my agenda, my attempts at living this “christian life” and allow His Spirit full control. Give over the keys to my life, my thinking and my actions, falling in FAITH into His loving, caring arms!