“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.”
1 John 5:3
Obedience to God’s commands is an incredible delight and an immense joy. Anything to the contrary is prideful, self-exalting and ultimately ripe for rebuke and correction from God. What’s more, it would be missing out on the greatest blessing and highest calling on our lives… to serve God through a life of worship and obedience by way of our spiritual gifts, devoting every breath to our Savior. What could possibly be better than devoting our lives, our minds, our bodies to our Wonderful Counselor, our Mighty God, our Prince of Peace, our Master, our Redeemer, our King of Kings, our Lord of Lords?
The Greatest Commandment
So what is the basis of this law? What is it made of, and why is that thing not burdensome?
A Pharisee approaches Christ in Matthew 22 and asks Him what the greatest commandment is. He responds by boiling the entire Mosaic covenant, all ten commandments and all other teachings down to one thing: to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). Next, Jesus expounds slightly further and likens the second commandment to the first: “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt. 22:39). Love!
The Law of Love
Love is the basis of what the entirety of God’s Law comes down to. This love fully consists of that found in 1 Corinthians 13, which means that it is patient… that it does not think more highly of itself than another and therefore put the importance of time and resources on itself but rather the world at large or the companion across the table… or the spouse in the movie theater bathroom or power tool section of the hardware store.
This love is also kind and courteous which directly correlates with patience. The thankfulness found in the eyes of another who receive an unexpected act of kindness serve as the earthly reward, all the while making deposits in the eternal IRA – our treasures stored in Heaven.
This Love Law is not jealous and therefore does not waste precious time arguing, sulking, or snooping around trying to catch another in a lie or manipulate words to elicit a incendiary response. This hurtful soul carcinogen that we call jealousy is much more of a burden to bear and one that Christ will readily exchange for His easy yoke of love.
This Love Law similarly does not boast or feel the need to… it is full of self-confidence, heavenly reassurance, and eternally-based efficacy for the world and its inhabitants. Boasting necessarily means that there be something to boast about which is the driving force behind pride; the proverbial primer that ignites the powder of ego, unhealthy determination, and competitiveness that sends weighty, sinful, bullets of soul lead straight into the heart of the hearer of boasting as well as the boaster himself. Why not bear the ‘burden’ of love and forego the whole noisy, dirty, hurtful affair altogether?
Again, it does not act unbecomingly so as to feel the need to apologize or bear the weight of regret in one’s bed alone at night recounting all of the heart-heavy events of the past day, year, or lifetime. A clean conscience and an unburdened memory weigh much less than the results of propriety and keeping control of one’s faculties.
Being provoked denotes a person who is constantly on guard for provocation which is an exhausting and fruitless task. Patience and kindness lead directly into provocation-resistant people who are increasingly rare; pearls every one of them. The defensive posture of a person easily provoked speaks nothing of the confidence and self-worth of Spirit-driven love, and when weighed on scales of burden, love is never found lacking, insecure, or wearisome.
On the flip side of not acting unbecomingly, a record of wrongs – if properly kept – takes enough volumes to fill a large backpack. The posture required to haul this record is that of a harassed and hunched over hermit with neither nary a friend, nor the requisite writing space to record such an acquaintance if there were to be one. There is also a healthy denotation of pride in keeping others’ wrongs and failing to mention any of one’s own. As an extension of the mercy and grace that God has so wonderfully blessed us with, the record of wrongs is systematically erased page for page until completely empty, much as the crimson stains of our sin washed white as pure wool by the blood of Christ. Better a freshly knit wool scarf than a pack full of vengeful, rift-inducing writings which have usually gone completely unnoticed by the offender or the potential witness pool.
Truth does not require imagination or carefully crafted responses to garner undeserved trust and confidence. On the other hand, lying and unrighteousness take a great deal of creativity, fact dodging, worry, and fear in the recipe to make a successful batch. Not only that, but if that recipe is not written down, it likely will need to be called to memory at the most inopportune of times. This memory must be even better than its truth-based counterpart. The price of the policy of honesty far outweighs the consequences, gray hairs, and character assassination that either a career or happenstance dabbling in lying and skullduggery charges.
So this love may carry with it a burden for those unfortunate, and it may take a great amount of resources (time, money, effort, consideration, etc.) to benefit others that could very easily have been spent on number one himself. The guilt, strife, grief, stress, dirt, and baggage (psychological, emotional, and spiritual) of not bearing the light, joy-filled, Spirit-driven yoke of love is far too difficult and quite frankly defies good common sense.