“You are my friends if you do what I command you.” John 15:14
There are friends, and then, there are FRIENDS. Sometimes I find myself explaining who someone else is and I start to say that they are a “friend.” And then I wonder how I can say that when I haven’t contacted them in forever. And then I start to wonder about the depths of my friendships.
And I think that is what You want to talk to me about today. “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” And this is not meant to be a stand alone statement. It must be taken in context with verse 13 where You demonstrated the depth of Your love and friendship for me. There is no greater love, no greater friendship, than someone who would lay down his life for the life of his friend. Do I have a friend like that somewhere? Duh! You’re right here reminding me.
You are saying, “Look, this is what true love, true friendship is. It’s giving Yourself for the benefit of another. Now, I’m God. I’m going to lay down My life on the cross to spare yours. That’s because I love you that much. No one loves you more than me. I consider you such a dear friend I would die for You. Oh, I did die for You. And, don’t forget, I rose again for you!”
Now You make me apply that to my life. How should Your love effect mine? Well, if that’s what a friend acts like, and I’m Your friend, then I ought to act like that too. If I am Your friend, I ought to give just as much for You. I ought to want to do everything for Your benefit, for Your good. And what’s more for Your benefit than all the things You’ve taught us to follow and obey?
Do, do, do. That’s not what this is about. Legalism. That’s not what this is about. It’s not just about authority. That’s not what this is about. This is all about love, the real deal. Jesus, You were so passionate in Your love for me, that You gave up everything, You suffered unimagined loss and pain, all for the joy of having me spend forever with You. If I am Your friend, I would give up everything, I would suffer unimagined loss and pain, all for the joy of having You spend forever with me.
It’s one thing for someone to say they love you. But it’s another when they show you how much they love you. You want to reciprocate that kind of love. It encourages. It strengthens. It grows. It overflows.
Jesus, You are the image of all Your commands. Strong’s defines “command” with the Greek word “entellomai” as meaning to enjoin. So you are asking us here to set to ourselves or lay to or on ourselves Your ways, Your commandments, Your injunctions, actually, Your heart. You want us to make Your ways and Your desires and Your heart our own. You are urgently directing me to adopt Your ways as my ways. You are urgently ordering me to do so for my own benefit and for Yours.
You are admonishing me, instructing me with Your authority to join with You. Friends join with one another. They enjoy the same things. They join in them together. They walk together, talk together, share together. It’s imperative to my welfare that I join with You, that I agree with what You agree with, that I do those things that You say are right, and flee from those things You say are wrong.
It’s all about knowing You and what delights You, what makes You happy, and me doing it, me living in it. “If you are going to say you love Me, act like it, show Me you love Me. Words are cheap. Actions speak louder.” When I obey Your commands, it takes me to the end-objective. Obeying Your commands, learning to understand the heart of them, is learning to understand and know Your heart. Only as I “prove” my friendship by clinging to You and obeying You do I reach the purpose of the command. What is the consummation or end result of obeying Your commands? You are the Purpose. You are the Consummation. You are the End Result.
I am Your friend if I let go of everything else and follow You. I adore Your commands because I adore You. They came from Your heart. You didn’t have to abolish any of them. I just have to understand them from Your heart, where they came from, and then I can love them like I love You.
Your commands are not burdensome. They are beautiful like You. They are an extension of You. This is why You said, “Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke and put in on you, and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest. For the yoke I will give you is easy, and the load I will put on you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) I don’t have to do it alone. You teach me and You carry the load with me. And that easy yoke, isn’t just easy. It is “useful in manner or morals.” See, we’re friends. We’re in this together. You’re walking with me. I’m obeying with You. And as I obey with You, it becomes easier and easier to obey no matter the difficulty of the situation.
But if I’m not willing to share the yoke, I can’t join in the work with You. I can’t do it on my own. I must be bound to You, bound by the yoke of true friendship, true love. This is not the world’s “true friend” or “true love.” We are bound by the yoke of the cross. This is the yoke of true love. Everything else pales in comparison.
Lord, I want to do whatever You command me because I want to be your friend. I’ve always wanted that, since I was a little girl. But I didn’t know how to really have that relationship until later. I want to love the Father like You loved the Father. I want to love Your commands, Your every Word. I want to love everything about You. I want to be as passionate for You as You are for me. You were passionate for me and You still continue to be passionate for me. Your passion never ends. But neither does Your obedience. And I want to be like that. I want to be like You. So I accept Your yoke, Lord, no matter how heavy it seems like it will be. Because it means I’m walking right beside You. It means I’m learning from You. It means we’re partners, we’re friends, we’re in this together through the thick and thin. And Lord, as You teach me to be Your true friend, teach me to be a true friend to others. May my love be as great as Yours because You are in me.