Lenten Love and Obedience

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments." John 14:15

When it comes to motivating, we use guilt far too much. Think of the way you tell the kids that they should clean their rooms because "don't you love me and want to do what I say?" Even when we look at biblical obedience, it is far too easy to motivate with guilt rather than grace.

"It is true that the object of our love can always be detected in our behavior... If love for God isn't present in our heart, then Godward obedience will be absent in our life.

But how do we grow our love without it becoming guilt-driven duty? And what does Jesus mean by these words that love will drive us to keep commands?

"Jesus is lovingly stating a fact, but he's also making a precious promise: love will motivate behavior. He completely knows us, even the inmost thoughts of our hearts. He knows of our desire to obey and our shame and sadness because of our failures. But he also knows this: as our love for him grows, our obedience will grow, too."

"Let me explain how the truth that love motivates obedience usually plays out in my heart. I think, Okay, I've got the "love God" part down, so now I need to concentrate on being more and more obedient to prove it. It's right there that I fail to get the emphasis right. I gloss over the motivating role that love plays and focus in on what I need to do instead. I mistakenly assume that my love for him is what is should be. But this verse isn't primarily meant as a correction to lazy believers. It is meant to tell us what the key to obedience is."

"The key to a godly life is not more and more self-generated effort. Instead, Jesus is saying, "Love me and your obedience will flow naturally from that love." The secret to obedience isn't formulaic steps found in a self-help book. It is a relentless pursuit of love for him. How then do I cultivate the sincerity of love that motivates obedience? By focusing more intently on his love for me than on my love for him, more on his obedience than mine, more on his faithfulness than mine, more on his strengths than mine."

So it is less about us and our love and more about Jesus and his love!

"Resting in the awareness of our perfect acceptance before him and in his intense desire to have us for his own will cause us to want to please him. It will make us love him, and love for him will always eventuate in godliness."

Jesus doesn't guilt you. "He isn't trying to motivate you through guilt or pity. His love is fervent, eternal, uncompromising. Rest there, drink there, luxuriate in the warm sunshine of his smile; grow strong in his everlasting embrace. Confront your own sinfulness, yes, but only after you've remembered his love for you. Then love him and obey."

Lenten devotion from Comforts from the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick. Day 12.


  1. ‘love and obedience’ and no mention of the Lord giving us His Spirit for the battle?

    but still appreciate this …also appreciate those who patiently continue to teach the multiple motivations and practice instruction from the Lord’s word. I appreciate that too because
    1) it helps train us to trust and believe His every word, not discounting or dismissing any of His council
    2) it confirms what the Spirit teaches us, that, this side of glory, our remaining sin nature would always still chose to please ourselves no matter ‘how loved we feel’. ‘In the Spirit’, loving others is ‘natural‘; in the flesh’, loving oneself most is still most ‘naturally’ preferred.
    3) it reminds us it is His grace upon grace.. His empowerment to know His love, to have us yield, to have us repent; His faithfulness to cleanse; His placing His desires in us; His work to have us trust and rely on our only hope “Christ in us, the hope of glory”

    But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Gal 5 16,17,25 …so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. Rom 8 4-9

  2. Thanks Alison. I think the danger is that all other ways of motivation will fail you. The Spirit indeed empowers us not only to act but to have the love for Christ that engenders action.

    Keep pressing on!

  3. thanks. I’m sure we are saying the same thing – my comment was for, what I believe, is a needed reinforcing of the trust we can have in all of His instruction, not needing to truncate or fear any of its benefit since, after all, it is the Lord’s word and He has been so kind to grace us with all of it. Peace.

    But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 1 Tim 1:5


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