Daily Proverbial, from 1 John, 8 May 2013

In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome   1 John 5, verse 3.

When we read this verse, let’s keep in mind what we talked about yesterday:   that we get to love Jesus by loving others.   Love can indeed be a tough thing to do, and tough love is sometimes both the hardest but the best.  It’s especially tough when it involves resisting temptation.

But not really.

See, love really is a choice and it doesn’t have to be a difficult one.   Indeed, it’s we who make it difficult; we and our choices or the situation around us.   We don’t have to love…but we get to.  We don’t have to choose to love…but we can.   We don’t have to accept Jesus’ unconditional love…but we’re invited to.  We choose to love, and when we choose to love we find that it can be an easy burden to bear.   Sure, if your vice is alcohol, it’s always a strong temptation; just one more drink.   If it’s sex, that’s like sweet poison.   Ditto drugs, tobacco, pride, spending, food, power, co-dependency, control, pain, or exercise.   Whatever your pet sins are, they are a strong temptation, and that temptation never goes away.

We don’t need to succumb to it.

To keep God’s commands means, first and foremost, clothing ourselves in the armor of God.   My friend, Patrick, recently preached this from Ephesians but from an unexpected angle.   His point was that the putting on the full armor of God really means “be clothed in Jesus” and Jesus alone.   Jesus is enough armor to stand against the temptations again and again.   And by having just Jesus as the way we live in life, not only can we fight against our temptations:  we learn how to keep His commands.

Now, I’m not Pollyanna.   I don’t seriously believe that wearing just Jesus’ armor instantly makes all the world’s troubles go away.   Evil still fights against us, but even evil KNOWS it is powerless against the love of Christ.   Every form of trouble, sin or vice is powerless against the life-changing love of King Jesus.  Arming ourselves with the love of Christ is the single best way to keep God’s commands to love each other while standing up to the sins that challenge us.   Sins tear us down to defeat us but Christ breaks us down while building us up   Sins cost; the love of Christ is paid-for.  Sins hurt; Jesus’ love heals.   Sin clouds our hearts; the love of Jesus crowds out sin from our hearts.

We don’t need to let ourselves be defeated by anything when we rely first and always on the love that is Jesus of Nazareth.  It’s something we are invited and free to do.   Once we do it, it becomes easy to see why He helps us overcome all temptation.

Lord Jesus of love, be my full armor and my only defense.  Let all I do be guided by Your love.

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