Posted by: glorifyhim1 | August 20, 2013

The Measure of Love

The Measure of Love

Just about every year as school time rolls around, I’m reminded of a funny, yet poignant, story from my childhood. Every year before school started Mama would make sure that my sister and I had two or three new outfits, new socks and underwear, and a brand new pair of shoes for the new school year. On this particular year as I got ready for my first day of school, my new socks were just a little too long. Mama carefully rolled the toes of my socks under my feet and helped me gingerly slide my feet into my new loafers. Once she had the sock positioned so that it felt just right, she cautioned me to not slide my shoes off and on at school so that my socks would stay neatly folded and comfortable.  “Keep your shoes on!” she cautioned me again as I headed out the door.

But something happened on my walk to school that morning. Little by little, with each step I took, the heels of my socks began to slide down into my shoes. It wasn’t too bad at first. Just a tiny jerk would pull them back up. But as the day wore on, it became harder and harder to keep the heels of my socks where they belonged. Finally, I just gave up. By the time the school day was over, the tops of my socks had disappeared completely into my new loafers. As I met my sister and started home, she looked at my feet and exclaimed: “Pull up your socks!”

“I can’t!” I argued. “Mama told me not to take off my shoes.”

No amount of logical explanation my sister offered could convince me to take off my shoes and reposition my socks. As I walked along, with my loafer now rubbing my bare heel, I clenched my teeth and continued to declare: “Mama told me not to take off my shoes!”

By the time we finally made it home, Mama took one look at her poor “sockless” daughter and exclaimed. “Why didn’t you pull up your socks?”

The tears tumbled forth as I cried. “You told me to not take off my shoes!”

Mama just smiled, told me I could take off my shoes, and then helped me remove the messed up, crumpled sock (but still perfectly folded under my toes, I might add!).

Over the years we have laughed much over this story and a little girl’s determination to do what her Mama said even when things didn’t seem to be working out just right. In spite of the anguish I felt at the time, it is one of my favorite childhood stories.  While I may have had a lot to learn about true obedience, I truly wanted to do what my Mama told me to do. I wanted to obey.

There were times as I grew older when I didn’t really want to obey. I knew what my parents taught me and expected of me, but sometimes I wanted to do things my way. I wanted to do what I wanted to do. More times than not, when I yielded to the temptation to do what I wanted to do, I found myself suffering consequences that often could have been avoided if I had only listened to my parents and obeyed. They loved me, wanted what was best for me, and knew a lot more about this world than I did, why in the world would I choose not to obey?

God expects obedience from His children, too. Consider the following verses found in Deuteronomy 11:26-28.

26 “Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today; 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known.

These words were spoken as Israel was preparing to enter the Promised Land. The commandments that God put forth told the nation how He expected them to live. He did not want them to follow the immoral practices of surrounding nations, but to become a nation set apart and showing allegiance to the one true God. God promised blessing if they obeyed, but there would be consequences if the people turned aside and chased after other gods.

Jesus also told His disciples before He was betrayed and crucified: “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21). Jesus didn’t cancel or do away with the Old Testament commandments. On the contrary, He actually took obedience a step further as He taught believers that true righteousness is more than merely complying with a set of rules. True righteousness involves the attitude and intent of the heart as well. (See Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7).

Obedience to God’s commands isn’t always easy. Sometimes it’s hard to love our enemies and to do good to those who hate us. It’s not always easy to pray for those who use us and persecute us. At still other times it’s easier to just go along with the crowd rather than stand up for what the Bible teaches on certain issues. Yet the Scriptures are clear. If we love Jesus, we will keep His commandments.

I’m not sure if at six-years-old I realized that obeying my parents was a way of showing them I loved them. If so, I’m sure Mama was overjoyed by the love I showed when I trudged home with my socks swallowed up in my shoes. I wonder how much love I’m showing to my Heavenly Father. Am I keeping His commandments? Am I obeying not just with my actions, but also with my attitude and heart? Am I remaining obedient even when things don’t seem to be working out right – or the way I want them to? I often tell God I love Him, but I want to show Him my love even more – so much so that He might smile like my Mama did, and then wrap me in His tenderness and love when obedience is hard!

“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome.”

(1 John 5:3)

 

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