“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’”
Now, these words Jesus spoke to Simon Peter after Peter had denied Jesus three times, but also after Peter had repented of his sins. So, Jesus asked him three times if he loved him. Thus, three denials were followed by three affirmations of his love for Jesus.
But Jesus wasn’t just asking him if he loved him, but if he loved him “more than these.” And “these” is not specified. But “these” can be anything that we put before Jesus, or that take his place in our hearts, or to which we give our most attention, passion, and devotion.
So, according to the Scriptures (the whole counsel of God), it is not unreasonable to say that Jesus is asking us the same question. Do we love “these” (specific to our individual lives) more than we love him? And what is love of God? It is to obey him. So, what do we obey or give loyalty to?
Also notice with me what Jesus said to Peter after he verbally acknowledged his love for Jesus. He said, “Feed my sheep.” So, what was he saying? He was/is saying that if we say we love him that we need to show it by what we do in obedience to him. For, love is not what we feel. It’s what we do.
And how about us? Are we to feed the Lord’s sheep (his followers)? Yes! Not necessarily in the position of shepherd of the sheep, but in being part of the body of Christ, encouraging one another and building one another up in our faith to maturity in Christ (Eph 4:1-16; Eph 5:15-21; Rom 12; 1 Co 12).
1 John 2:15-17
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
This is not saying that we should not love the people of the world. We should. This is talking about not preferring, and not taking pleasure in, and not esteeming the lusts of the flesh and the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life. The desires and the lusts of the flesh should have no sway in our lives. And they definitely should not be what we give our hearts, passion, loyalties, and devotion to. They should have no part in our lives.
So, if we prefer, take pleasure in, esteem and give our loyalties and devotion to the lusts of the flesh and of the eyes, and to the pride of life, then the love of God the Father is not in us. Do you get what this is saying? We can’t live to our flesh and have the love of God in our lives, too.
For, all these sinful thoughts and pleasures and desires don’t come from God but from the world and from the evil desires of the hearts of people not surrendered to Jesus Christ. So, this is saying that if we love God, we will hate all that is evil and is of our sinful flesh, so we won’t feed it.
So, who has eternal life with God? It is whoever DOES the will of God. It is whoever obeys the Lord and his commandments (New Covenant). It is not those who merely profess faith in Jesus Christ, but it is those who have died and are dying with him to sin and who are living to his righteousness.
1 John 3:7, 10
“Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.”
“By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”
This is not speaking here of our own righteousness, but the righteousness of God which we have as believers in Jesus Christ, but which we must put into practice. It is what is deemed right by the Lord, what is approved in his eyes. It is honesty, uprightness, holiness, morality, and purity of heart.
These are the things we must put into practice in our lives. We must be obedient children of the Lord, and we must walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. And we must die with Christ to sin and live to Christ and to his righteousness.
We must no longer live in sin, making sin our practice, lying, cheating, stealing, committing adultery, giving false witness, abusing, persecuting, tricking, manipulating and deceiving others. For, love does no deliberate harm to its neighbor.
So, the righteous are not those who profess Jesus with their lips, but they are those who put God’s righteousness into practice in their daily lives.
2 John 1:6
“And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.”
Love for God is keeping his commandments (in practice). It is living according to his commandments (New Covenant). It is doing what his word (in context) teaches us who are Jesus’ followers. It is not just words that we say, but it is doing what the Lord requires of us.
But this isn’t us, in the flesh, following a set of rules or going through a bunch of routines. This is us, in the Spirit, empowered by the Spirit, doing the works God prepared in advance that we should walk in them. It is us walking (in conduct) according to the Spirit, and not according to the flesh.
It is us, the Lord’s sheep, loving our Lord with our whole hearts and wanting nothing more than to please him in all that we do and say. It is us surrendered to his will, submissive to his Lordship, repentant of sin, and walking in fellowship with him, in purity of devotion to him, because we love him.
A Believer’s Prayer
An Original Work / July 31, 2012
With my whole heart, Lord, I pray
To be Yours, and Yours always.
Lead me in Your truth today.
May I love You, and obey.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
When I sin, may I confess;
Bow before You when I pray;
Live for You and You always.
Love You, Jesus, You’re my friend.
Life with You will never end.
You are with me through each day,
Giving love and peace always.
You will ne’er abandon me.
From my sin You set me free.
You died on that cruel tree,
So I’d live eternally.
Soon You’re coming back for me;
From this world to set me free;
Live with You eternally.
Oh, what joy that brings to me.
I will walk with You in white;
A pure bride, I’ve been made right
By the blood of Jesus Christ;
Pardoned by His sacrifice.