Yesterday, I wrote that the joy of pleasing God, and feeling His pleasure, can be hindered if we live by do's and don'ts. Rule keeping just puts you in bondage. What's needed is to be so in love with Jesus we wouldn’t think of displeasing Him. Isn’t this what Jesus said? “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:21) In other words, the more we love Him, the easier it is to obey Him.
If we are struggling to be obedient in some area of our lives, we don’t need to double-down our efforts. We need to reassess our intimacy with Jesus. Obedience is the ‘natural’ consequence of love. “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And [then] His commands are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3)
Peter’s relationship with Jesus illustrates this proper order: love followed by obedience. Peter, who was the staunchest warrior among the disciples, declared his loyalty—he would never abandon Jesus. And then, he did (John 18). And not simply running away as the others had, but stridently disavowing Jesus—3 times! So it should not miss our attention that when Jesus and Peter had their next private encounter, Jesus did not tell Peter to try harder. No, Jesus simply looked him in the eyes, and said, “Peter, do you love me?”