If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. John 15:10 (KJV)
We don’t hear the word “abide” much any more, and we seem to have only a vague sense of it’s meaning. But the dictionary tells us that abide, as it is used here, means:
1 : to remain stable or fixed in a state
2: to continue in a place : to sojourn
The verse here is a common pattern found in scripture. There is a condition and a promise. The condition is “if you keep my commandments” and the promise is “you shall remain stable in my love.” Does this mean that God will stop loving you if you fail in keeping the commandments?
Of course not. We have ample evidence in John 3:16,17.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (KJV)
The world was not keeping God’s commandments, but He loved the world anyway – and not just the world, but every single individual person in the world.
Again in Romans 5:8 we are told
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
So if God’s love for us does not change, what’s this abiding all about? God’s love is not static. We must receive it for it to be any benefit to us. If we are not striving to keep His commandments, it’s difficult for us to receive His love, much less respond to it and spread it to others.
When we are disobedient, we have a hard time hearing His voice. We are listening to other voices in the world which tempt us to do things that are not in God’s plan. The commandments become our yardstick. We compare what the voices are telling us with what God has revealed in His word. If they match, we can move forward safely. If they don’t match, we need to regroup and re-think and change our actions.
The secret is that when obedience to His commandments becomes our second nature, we know at first hearing which voices are telling the truth and which are trying to lead us astray.
Keeping His commandments is the exercise that keeps us spiritually fit and firmly established in God’s love. Then we can receive His love, respond to His love, and reflect His love to the world around us.
Help us to remain faithful in keeping Your commandments. Grant us a sense of Your boundless unfailing love. Give us the grace to reflect that love to all we meet.
In Jesus’ most precious name.