Fear the Law or Love the Lawgiver

Have you ever considered why you obey the law? Probably not but think about this- do you obey the law out of fear of getting caught? Do you obey the law out of a desire to do what’s right? Both of these are noble motivations to follow our nation’s laws, but my guess is that you don’t follow the laws of the United States because you love the legislators that created the law.  (Unless there is something seriously wrong with you.)

Have you ever considered why you follow the laws of God? Why do you do what the Bible asks of you? I’m concerned that some people only follow God’s commands because they are afraid of getting caught. (Their worried about the consequences of getting caught.)   I’m concerned that some people follow God’s commands because they think these good deeds will get them into heaven. (In other words, God owes them because they tried not to break his law.)

The Reason for living right

Again, all of these motivations for following the commands of God are less than ideal. The ideal reason to follow God’s commands is out of love for Jesus, the lawgiver. Jesus makes this motivation for following the law pretty clear in John 14:15 – “If you love me you will keep my commandments”. He says the same thing in the next chapter, John 15:10;  “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”

Jesus is as concerned about your attitude for keeping his law, as he is your actions with regard to the law. Jesus’ statement is the essence of what St. Augustine had in mind when he said, “Love God and do what you will.” Do you keep the law out of love for Jesus or fear of getting caught?

I think this is something Jesus had in mind during the Great Commission. He tells his followers to teach others all that he commanded in Matthew 28:18-20. By this statement Jesus is asking you to teach others to love with your actions and your attitudes. Jesus isn’t asking us to go over an exhaustive list of everything he ever taught them in the Great Commission. Rather, he’s asking us to show others what life looks like for someone who loves Jesus and wants to honor him.

Further reading