“Put your socks on.” Such a simple command, yet it can be met with so much resistance. Or at least in my house it can, and usually some time shortly after 7 AM. It’s in this narrow window of time that we are rushing our two oldest kids out the door for school. We leave at that time every day, five days a week. Yet more often than one might expect, our kids seem surprised that we do not live in the tropics and that socks are required for leaving the house. In spite of these differences of opinion, we love our children and they love us. They show us their love by making things at school and church, bringing their creations home, and giving them to us to hang prominently on the refrigerator or bulletin board in our kitchen. The things they make mean a lot to us. But as precious as those handmade drawings and notes are, there is an even greater way our children show they love us. They put their socks on. More to the point, they obey.
We demonstrate our love for God in the same way. We do what He tells us to do. 1 John 5:3 says, “In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome”. Just a few verses earlier, we see 1 John 4:19-21 tells us, “We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” So loving God means keeping His commands, and keeping His commands means loving our brothers and sisters. That sounds simple enough…until someone gives us a reason not to love them.
It’s unlikely that any of us have a better reason not to love someone than Corrie did. She describes the encounter in her book The Hiding Place. She had spoken at a church about forgiveness. After the service, a familiar face came up to her. He was in normal clothes, but she remembered him in uniform. He had been a guard at Ravensbruck, the concentration camp where Corrie ten Boom had been imprisoned and where her sister had died. The man did not remember Corrie. He told her that he had been a guard and had done cruel things, but had since become a Christian. He knew God had forgiven him, but wanted to hear it from a former prisoner. He extended his hand and asked if she forgave him. All Corrie knew of God’s love and forgiveness was put to the test in that moment. She prayed for Jesus to help her, extended her hand to shake his, and experienced the powerful love of God as she forgave him. What a picture of Christian love!
We love because God first loved us, and we express our love in obediently loving one another, even when it is tough. That is what the love of Jesus looks like lived out. May we love God by obeying Him. And for the love of all that is decent, may we put our socks on when our parents tell us to. Ok, that last one may have just been for my kids…