His commandments are not burdensome.
1 John 5 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
5 Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 6 This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. 10 The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. 11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.
13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.
16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. 17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.
18 We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. 19 We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. 21 Little children, guard yourselves from idols.
Many people believe that the Christian life is a life of restriction, a difficult life based on all the things that “thou shall not.” In today’s text, John says: By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. We may not be able to convince the world, unbelievers that God’s commandments are not burdensome, but it is good for us to know and fully understand that truth so that we cannot be led astray. If we feel burdened by our faith, we are probably following commandments of man not of God. We probably have become more focused on the regulations and traditions of religion than with our relationship with God and Jesus.
The text says that observing His commandments is evidence of loving God. Jesus also says: "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments…"If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” (John 14:15,23) So it is relationship, not religion that is the motive for keeping God’s commandments. It is love that motivates us to follow God’s word. When we think about the people we deeply love, we don’t think of it as a burden to do things for them, to do things which please them and bring them joy. Because of our love for them, bringing them joy also brings us joy. It is because of love that we keep God’s commandments. In yesterday’s text, in 1 John 4:19 it says: We love, because He first loved us. Our love for God is in response to His love for us. The love of God and the love of Christ was demonstrated on the cross. Philippians 2:5-8 says: Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of love, Jesus did not consider it too great of a burden to bear our sins on the cross. How then, in response to so great a love, could we consider it a burden to be obedient to Him?
It is much more though than that we owe our obedience to God and Christ because of what they did for us. That too would become burdensome because it is a debt we cannot repay. While we do keep the commandments out of love, not out of obligation, the truth is keeping the commandments is what is best for us. God’s commandments are not restrictive, denying us life. They are life giving. God’s commandments are to keep us from sin. Romans 6:23 says: For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. God’s commandments then are to keep us from death and so to lead us to life. Jesus says: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) Following Jesus, keeping His commandments is not a life of burden. Rather, it is an abundant life. It is a life filled with the blessings and promises of God. Romans 6:16 says: Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? Obedience to God and Christ results in righteousness and abundance. Obedience to or believing the lies of the devil and the world results in becoming a slave to the world and to sin.
Jesus says: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) To be yoked to Christ is far better than to be shackled to sin. The yoke does not keep us from walking like a shackle does. Instead, being yoked to Christ assures us that we are moving in the direction that He wants, which is the direction that is best for us. God says: “For I know the plans that I have for you, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) The commandments of God are not burdensome. They are based in love and our keeping them is based in our response to that love. They are not restrictive, denying us life, but rather they are for our good, to give us abundant life. To follow God’s commands, to be yoked to Christ assures us that in whatever we do, in whatever we encounter, Jesus will do the hard part. God and Jesus have commanded and promised: "Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you." (Deuteronomy 31:6) “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”(Matthew 28:20)
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit for the great love You have for me, revealed in the cross of Christ. Thank You for Your commandments which are not burdensome, but rather which lead to the abundant, victorious life You have promised and provided. I choose to keep Your commandments, not out of obligation but because of love. I gladly accept the yoke of Christ, I yield to the Holy Spirit, that I might know and experience the abundant life, all the good You have planned for me. Amen