1 John 5:3
“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome”
(1 John 5:3 NKJV)
when we love God, we keep His commandments
Our passage reveals that one who loves the God who begot us also loves those who are begotten by Him (verse 1). If we love God, we will love the family of God — other Christians.
We can know that we truly love God’s children (verse 2). We know this when we love God and keep His commandments.
In this context, verse 3 is repeating (emphasizing) the second part of verse 2: it tells us what true love of God does.
- “For” builds on this theme of God’s love. This expression (love of God) can refer to His love for us or to our love for Him. Actually both are included in this passage. “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Paul prayed for his readers to be rooted and grounded in love, that they “may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height — to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge…” (Ephesians 3:17-19). Apart from our God, where could we ever learn such love?
- But loving response cannot be satisfied with mere admiration or thanksgiving. The love He requires keeps His commandments (1 John 5:2-3). Anything short of this is a counterfeit love. “Let love be without hypocrisy” (Romans 12:9). “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15).
- John states the requirement to “keep” His commandments in the present tense, making this an ongoing mindset – a way of life that “keeps on keeping on.”
- Finally, John reminds us that “His commandments are not burdensome.” The mother who has lost many hours of sleep does not consider it a burden to remain awake in order to care for a beloved child. The soldier who voluntarily throws his body onto a grenade does not act merely on a reflex, but out of genuine love for his brothers in arms. It is well said that love lightens all loads. Jesus expresses a similar thought in Matthew 11:28-30.
The supreme test of being born of God is whether we love Him so much that we gladly yield our will to His in loving obedience. Anything less than this falls short of what our Savior expects and deserves.
– Rick Duggin