Love the Lord your God, walk in all His ways, obey His commands, hold firmly to Him, and serve Him with all your heart and all your soul.
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The last words to Joshua, to the tribes who would be moving to the east side of the Jordan, summarized and simplified the life of a believer down to these few actions:
- Love God
- Obey Him
- Cling to Him
- Serve Him
A clear order presents itself in this command: You must first love God, and that will cause you to obey Him, and then you will abide in Him, and the natural response will be service to Him.
The New Testament elaborates on these points in John 14 and 15, although not in this succinct way. You have to work backward to see the exact same order.
“You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain …” (John 15:16). So we are here to bear fruit for God. But how do you bear fruit? The answer to that question is answered in John 15:5.
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.“ So the secret to bearing fruit is abiding in Christ. You can’t just decide to go out and bear fruit; that’s an exercise in futility. The power to do so comes as we abide in Christ. But how do we abide? We learn that secret in John 15:10:
“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love …” So if we obey God, we will abide, and if we abide, we will bear lasting fruit. That sounds like a nice, easy, natural progression, except … obedience is hard. Everything in life works against obedience: our weak flesh, the world—which offers a steady supply of distractions and temptations—and the enemy. So how do we get to a place where obedience is more natural than disobedience? John 14:15 answers that:
”If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” So if I love God, I will obey Him. And if I obey Him, I will abide in Him. And if I abide in Him, I will bear fruit for Him.
That’s exactly what we read in Joshua 15. And when God tells us something twice, and in both the Old and the New Testament, you can be sure He wants to plant that truth in our hearts and work it out in our lives.
The problem comes when we try to reverse that order. “I will go out and bear fruit.” How will you keep that up unless you have first been obeying, abiding and loving God?
Of course, that begs one more question: how do you love God? And the answer to that is simple: you get to know Him. You study His Word; you study His character; you talk to Him, and you listen. If you do those things, you won’t be able to help falling in love with God. No one on this earth will ever come close to loving you the way He does. Once that starts to sink in, your responsive love will begin to blossom.
And the rest will follow.