By Mike Willis
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous (1 John 5:3).
Sometimes weak Christians began thinking that the Lord’s commandments are an opprobrious burden that imposes itself on them. When they dwell on this, they sometimes begin resenting the impositions that God makes on their life and speak belligerently about God. God’s requirements deprive them of their fun, they think.
But, John says just the opposite: God’s commandments are not grievous. John speaks, not only as an inspired apostle, but also as an aged man with a wide experience of life and its difficulties. He had been arrested with Peter after the healing of the man at the Beautiful Gate (Acts 3-4). The two were threatened and told to quit preaching Christ. His brother James was beheaded by Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:1-2). He was exiled to the isle of Patmos for the testimony of Christ (Rev. 1:9). John had enough of the adversities of life that come as a response to his faith and preaching to have reason to know the sorrows that sometimes attend faithfulness.
His Commandments Are Not Grievous
To Those Who Love Him
W. Jones wrote in The Pulpit Commentary, “`His commandments are not grievous’ to them that love him. Love is not only life, but inspiration, courage, and strength; therefore, as love to God in-creases, obedience to his commands becomes easier and more delightful. ‘I confess,’ says Watson, ‘to him that hath no love to God, religion must needs be a burden; and I wonder not to hear him say, “What a weariness is it to serve the Lord!” It is like rowing against the tide. But love oils the wheels; it makes duty a pleasure. Why are the angels so swift and winged in God’s service, but because they love him? Jacob thought seven years but little for the love he did bear to Rachel. Love is never weary; he who loves money is not weary of toiling for it; and he who loves God is not weary of serving him.’ Says Miss Austin, ‘Where love is there is no labour; and if there be labour, that labour is loved.’ Will our love to God bear this test of cheerful obedience to his commands? Then do we love him truly; and so loving him, we shall love all his children” (159).
True Love Imposes Restrictions
A mature Christian will understand the true nature of love. A loving parent will not give his children everything they wish for. Instead he will lay down some rules and commandments on his children. These will be for the benefit of the children, even though the child may resent them at the time. He may be required to make his bed, clean his room, mow the yard, and such like things. Sometimes during his days of immaturity he will resent the imposition these rules make on his life. However, after he matures, he will likely impose very similar rules on his own children because he later discovers the reason for imposing these rules.
Are we old enough and wise enough as God’s children to see the wisdom in his rules for us? If God had not loved us, he may have left us without rules and commandments for life. He may have treated us like some negligent, unloving parent treats his teenage son allowing him to come and go when he pleases, do as he pleases, act as he pleases, etc. Such a teenager may as well not have a father. A father who truly loves his son will impose rules and commandments on his life to protect his son from the dangers of life. Far from restraining us, God’s commandments are truly liberating and beneficial. They point us toward the happiest life available to mankind.
An Easy Yoke
When Jesus extended his great invitation, he said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).
What a paradox Jesus speaks when he says that the way to find rest is through taking his yoke upon you. Most of us want rest by releasing ourselves from yokes. Then he added that his “burden is light.” How differently the ungodly describe the life of a Christian. The ungodly think that living for Christ is one of the heaviest yokes that could be imposed on a person. Not so, says Jesus. True rest is found by bearing his burden and submitting to his yoke.
The galling yoke is that which sin and Satan impose on us. It cuts into us and rubs us raw until it finally and completely destroys us. Look at some of the ones carrying Satan’s heavy yoke: the AIDS victim, the man injured by an auto accident caused by drunk driving, the alcoholic and drug addict. These yokes are the heavy yokes, not the one Christ calls on men to assume.
Guardian of Truth XXXIX: 9 p. 2
May 4, 1995