13 September 2010 (Shanee/Matzah)|
Day #181, 5934 AM
Teshuvah #36 Fruits VI
Loving is the Secret of Obeying
Continued from Part 5
We have now discovered, based on Yah'shua's discourse in John 15, that the secret of living is bearing fruit, the secret of bearing fruit is abiding, and the secret of abiding is obeying. What is the secret of obeying? This is something that many believers fall over but the answer is simple: the secret of obeying is loving.
A. LEVELS OF OBEDIENCE
B. THE SECRET TO OBEYING IS LOVING
- 1. The Level of Fear. Perhaps the most common motivation for obedience is knowing what will happen if we don't obey: "For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Messiah and Elohim (God). Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of Elohim comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them" (Eph.5:5-7, NKJV). There is certainly a place for this kind of motivational fear. It can initially motivate us to turn to Yahweh: "There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared Elohim with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to Elohim always...Then Peter opened his mouth and said: 'In truth I perceive that Elohim shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him" (Acts 10:1-2,34-35 NKJV). The same fear can also continue to motivate us in serving Elohim: "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil.2:12, NKJV). This kind of fear is good if it motivates us to repent when we have disobeyed Yahweh: "For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of Elohim underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Ruach (Spirit) of grace (undeserved loving kindness)? For we know Him who said, 'Vengeance is Mine; I will repay,' says Yahweh. And again, 'Yahweh will judge His people.' It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living Elohim" (Heb.10:26-31, NKJV).
However, Yahweh does not seek a people whose only motivation for obedience is fear. Yah'shua clearly indicated that He wanted a relationship between us and Him to be much more intimate and loving: "No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you" (John 15:15, NKJV). What He is saying is that whilst it is legitimate to begin in a 'slave-master' relationship if it will rescue from sin (most people if not everyone starts this way), that is not where He wants it to end: the goal is much higher - He wants this to develop into a genuine friendship based on mutual trust. If we only build upon fear, it will rob us of the real simcha or joy that comes from obeying. Motivation built solely on fear results in the erection of walls instead of bridges: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love" (1 John 4:18, NKJV). So whilst fear as a motivation for obedience is good (if it will save you from hell), it is not the highest form of motivation - it is but a step in the right direction.
- 2. The Level of Selfishness. If we are truthful, we mostly obey because of what we know we will get in return. This attitude was once manifested by Peter: "See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?" (Matt.19:27, NKJV). In other words, 'What's in it for me if I follow You?' Peter was being selfish. What, then, is the relationship betwewen fear and selfishness? It's simple...and every child knows it:
Are we, as aduls, any different? Sadly, no. Most Christians probably never rise above these to motivational impulses:
- a. Some children obey their parents to avoid discipline (fear); and
- b. Some children obey their parents to curry favour (selfishness).
Juding by the message of far too many evangelists, this is mostly how people are converted! It's either carrot, threat or a mixture of the two. But what we really need to hear about and understand is the truth that there is a much higher level of obedience which is the real goal for those who have matured in their faith.
- a. Some obey Yahweh only because they fear the Judgment; and
- b. Some obey Yahweh only because the the promise of eternal reward.
- 3. The Level of Love. This is the highest, most productive and most fruitful level of obedience. This is where we obey Yahweh because we love Him and we will continue to obey Him no matter what happens. It is the level of obedience upon which Yah'shua (Jesus) wants us to do His will: "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15, NKJV), not 'If you don't want to be punished. obey My commandments' or 'If you want good things, obey my commandments', but rather: "I anyone loves Me, he will keep My word" (John 14:23, NKJV).
Obeying out of fear or expectation of reward is only a short-term remedy for disobedience. Those who rely exclusively on one, the other or both of these to obey the mitzvot (commandments) will one day stop doing so. Not only is 'obeying out of love' the highest level of obedience, but it is also the secret of obeying.
- 1. Yahweh Has Always Desired His People to Obey Him Out of Ahavah (Love). It was never the primary impulse of His heart to threatren or bribe people into obedience but often that has been the only way to stop people from destroying themselves. This has been the impulse of 'last resort' when nothing else has worked. The Shema has always made this clear from the very beginning: "Hear, O Israel: Yahweh our Elohim, Yahweh is echad (one)! You shall love Yahweh your Elohim with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength" (Deut.6:4-5, NKJV). "Therefore know that Yahweh your Elohim, He is Elohim, the faithful Elohim who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments (mitzvot)" (Deut.7:9, NKJV). "And now, Israel, what does Yahweh your Elohim require of you, but to fear Yahweh your Elohim, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve Yahweh your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments (mitzvot) of Yahweh and His statutes (chuqqim) which I command you today for your good?" (Deut.10:12-14, NKJV). "Therefore you shall love Yahweh your Elohim, and keep His charge (mishmeret), His statutes (chuqqim), His judgments (mistpatim), and His commandments (mitzvot) always" (Deut.11:1, NKJV). And so it is that Yah'shua wants His talmidim (disciples) to obey Him: "If you love Me, keep My commandments (mitzvot)" (John 14:15, NKJV).
It does not take a lot of intelligence to understand the value of obeying out of love. While we may initially obey out of fear or out of selfishness, the key to continued and successful obedience requires that it be done out of ahavah or love. Two simple illustrations will demonstrate the emet or truth of this:
This is very common when believers find themselves in the midst of prosperity and happiness. They often forget who the Giver of their bounty is and therefore quickly forget Yahweh if they were only driven to Him in the first place by fear or selfishness. Only those who genuinely love Yahweh stay with Him when the going is really good (let alone tough - that's something else altogether). Thus only when we are motivated by love will we remain faithful (as opposed to just having 'faith' - remember biblical 'faith' and 'faithfulness' are one and the same - faith without faithfulness is not biblical trusting) in the good times as well as the bad!
- a. Let's imagine that things are going so well for us that we totally lose sight of Yahweh's impending Judgment at Yom Kippur. Someone for whom things are going really well is not likely to be motivated by fear to obey; and
- b. Let's imagine that things are going so well for us that we do not sense any need for things from Yahweh any more. Someone for whom things are going really well is not likely to be motivated by selfishness to obey either.
If we really want to enjoy the abundant life that Yah'shua offers those who trust in Him, then it is vital that we learn to obey Him out of ahavah (love) because:
Now honestly, can you truthfully say that you are loving Yah'shua enough to obey Him? "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15, NKJV). If your answer is 'no' then I have one last secret to share with you in the next and last of this series...
- a. The more we love Him, the more we will obey Him;
- b. The more we obey Him, the more we will abide in Him;
- c. The more we abide in Him, the more we will bear fruit; and
- d. The more we bear fruit, the more we wille experience the truly abundant life!
Continued in Part 7