That Our Joy May Be Full
We have discussed in previous devotions that obedience, understood as keeping our Lord’s commandments, is the measure of our love for him. Moreover, it is by keeping these commandments that we abide in his love. This is no works-righteousness path to earning God’s love; after all, we love Him only because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). But it is by bearing much fruit that we prove that we are his disciples, and the only way we can do that is by abiding in him, abiding in his love, which we can only do by keeping his commandments. Some would have us believe that we may abide in his love even if we continue living in sin. Yet, “No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him” (1 John 3:6). Of course, we shall never reach sinless perfection, but we must always strive for that. Abiding in his love is the way.
Today, rather than saying “commandments,” Jesus says, “If my words abide in you.” Perhaps this is a more palatable word for some, but it really shouldn’t be. At any rate, Jesus declares, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Note that whatever we wish is predicated on his word abiding in us. That is, if his word abides in us, we shall ask only for that which will cause us to bear much fruit, and thereby glorify his Father – which was always Jesus’ primary concern. There is no other way to parse this. Jesus plainly says: “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love.” And then he adds,
“Just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” As I said yesterday, Jesus asks nothing of us that he has not done already. Indeed, there are many things he did that he does not ask of us simply because we could never do them.
And if we abide in his love, his joy will be in us and our joy shall be full. And this is the reward for abiding in his love, for keeping his word, his commandments – fullness of joy, and not just any joy, his joy. Joy is the second of the fruits of the Spirit, and the first fruit of love, which we prove by obedience. The joy of the Christian is not based upon a vital prayer life, spiritual experiences, uplifting worship services, or what have you; the joy of the Christian is based upon keeping his word, keeping his commandments, whereby we abide in his love, whereby we abide in him. There is no joy for the Christian outside of obedience to his Lord and Savior, and anyone who thinks he has such joy while walking in darkness deceives himself (James 1:22). Joy comes in the morning, but it lasts all day long through obedience.