Saturday, 30 May 2020
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:3
John just tied loving the children of God in with loving God and keeping His commandments. He now takes that and further defines it, saying, “For this is the love of God.” In order to know we love the children of God, we will understand what it means to love God. John then explains that with the words, “that we keep His commandments.”
As has been consistently noted, this is not speaking of the precepts of the Law of Moses. That has already been defined in Scripture as a “yoke,” and as “bondage.” Speaking of the law, Peter says –
“Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” Acts 15:10
Paul uses the same terminology in Galatians 5 –
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1
These, and other such examples, show that the Law of Moses was a burdensome yoke, and it was a point of being brought into bondage. But it also served a good purpose by revealing these things, and also showing the world its need for Christ. Without the law, that would not have been rightly understood. Keeping Gods commandments involves keeping the words which point us to life in Christ, beginning with what Jesus says in John 6 –
“This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” John 6:29
From there, and being obedient to what God has commanded in Christ (and in proper context), and we will be demonstrating a love of God. John then reveals the nature of this by saying, “And His commandments are not burdensome.” The Greek word, translated as “burdensome,” is barus. This is the last of its six uses. It can be used in a positive sense or a negative one, but it generally signifies grievous, heavy, burdensome, and so on. It is quite appropriate for how both Peter and Paul described the Law of Moses. The commandments of God in Christ, however, are not so.
Life application: John uses a definite article in front of the word “love.” In other words, “the love.” He’s speaking about the same unconditional and eternal love that he has been referring to throughout this epistle. It is grounded in our love for the Father, based on the work of Jesus.
The commandments of God in Christ are not burdensome. Rather, they stand in contrast to the commandments of man. His are a light and easy choice as we can see by His words in the gospel of Matthew –
“The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. 4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” Matthew 23:1-4
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus’ yoke is light because He has already done the hard and heavy work for us. Now we can live in the joy of the Lord and demonstrate our love for God in the keeping of His commandments – as are revealed in the New Covenant.
We know, Lord, that Your commandments are not burdensome, but we also know that we often fail You. Be with us and help us to learn, live, and love the commandments which You have given us through Your New Covenant. May our lives be demonstrations of Your great love for us as we pass it on to others, and also return it to You as well. This we pray, so that our fellowship may be complete. Amen.