Put Off Performance. Abide in His Love.

In His last message before torture and death, Jesus comforted, instructed, and prayed for His disciples (John 13-17). One of the desires He expressed for them was,

“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.” (John 15:9)

Jesus wanted His disciples to receive and experience His love, not just in the horrible events of the following days, but to remain in it for the rest of their lives.

This He told to His disciples. By extension, if you are a follower, a disciple of Christ, then Jesus’ desire is the same for you. For example, Paul prayed for the Christians in Ephesus that “Christ may dwell in [their] hearts through faith; and that [they], being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge…” (Eph. 3:17-18).

Consider the implications of Christ’s infinity in relation to His love. He being omnipotent, His love is all-powerful toward any person upon whom He bestows it. It does the impossible in saving souls (Lu. 18:26-27). He being omniscient, His love is all-wise. It always knows just what shape love needs to take for each person for comforting and refining. He being holy, His love is like no other. It comes only from God. He being pure, His love is absolutely pure. No lie that can corrupt it. He being all-good, His love demands justice. Without justice, goodness fails. He being merciful, His love redeems. He even went through death to pay that redemption price. He being omnipresent, He loves His own in every situation. He being infinite, there is no place in Creation where His love does not reach, no time when it runs out, no darkness that dims it, no sin that overpowers it, no guilt that outweighs it. The Ephesian believers could rest securely in the love of Christ no matter their failures. Before them, the disciples could rest securely in the love of Christ in the doubts and trials and failures that would soon assail them. So can all followers of Christ.

If you have trusted in Christ for your salvation from yourself and your sin, then you are irrevocably positioned in the sphere of this love of Christ. You do not have to earn merit with Him. Meritorious work for salvation isn’t possible anyway. In fact, the one who tries to be good enough for God to accept him is behaving like an unbeliever. Man’s merit is moot; relationship is right. You need to repent from trusting in self and trust in Christ alone by His grace alone. Rest in His work. Abide in His love.

Jesus went on to tell how His love in the disciples would be evident. If they would remain, abide, live in His love, then they would demonstrate love for Him by keeping His commands.

“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:10).

While we rest in Christ’s work for salvation, true love obeys. The one who does not obey does not love Him. But the obedience that delights God is that which flows out of love for Him, not that which is done to try to earn merit or appease Him. We run restingly.

Christian, do you tend to be performance-oriented?
Do you have standards of spirituality by which you determine how spiritual you are?
Do you often criticize others for not living up to your standards?
Are you constantly weighed down with “shoulds” and guilt feelings for not living up to your standards?

“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.” (John 15:9)

You have a God who desires, actually wants, you to enjoy His love. Take some time today to rejoice in the unearned love you receive from the Lord. Here are three ways you might implement putting off performance orientation and putting on love for Christ:

  • Rather than do a project that can be tallied on your spirituality check-list, spend some time simply adoring Christ by means of what He has made. Admire His handiwork in creation on earth or in the heavens. Tell Him of your delight in Him for His craftsmanship.
  • You could use a psalm to read and ponder and pray back to the Lord in thanksgiving and praise. Psalms 103, 145, and 148 are full of adoration.
  • When you consider the next activity to be done, ask yourself, “Am I doing this because I should, or because I love the Lord and want to serve Him with obedience?” Certainly, excel in good works, but do so for love, not for merit.

Man’s merit is moot. Relationship is right.

Put off performance. Abide in His love.

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About Linda

Wifing, Singing, Studying, Counseling. I counsel at Gateway Biblical Counseling and Training Center. M.A. in Biblical Counseling. Certified by Association of Certified Biblical Counselors
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2 Responses to Put Off Performance. Abide in His Love.

  1. Hi Linda,

    Was wondering if you have done much research on the topic of pediatric medicine and the psychological approach with patient-caregiver interactions.

    Years ago, we took a child to a “pediatric dentist” and it was quite the experience. The place was like a big indoor playground, no exam rooms, but with dental exam chairs all around, toys, Disney videos playing throughout the room, etc. Our child was told to play, we thought just to pass time while we waited for the dentist. Eventually he was asked if he felt like sitting in the chair. But, he was told, it was cool if he didn’t want to sit in the chair at the moment.

    We soon just told staff person, “Just tell us what you want him to do, and we will make him do it.”

    We decided we would avoid pediatric dentists.

    Anyway, many christian families are going through very serious illness with their children, and dealing with pediatric health care that seems to be guided by a very child-centered approach. Like the philosophy of giving kids the world, even if they lose their souls. Like Make a Wish foundation. They mean well, of course, but all they have to offer is the world which is passing away.

    We recently saw this video which features a cancer charity. As you watch, you will hear the undertones of the philosophy. It was very unsettling. One parent says their child doesn’t want to go home because the place is so wonderful. A staff person explains how vital it is that the kids have self-esteem.

    http://www.kmov.com/community/KMOV-Cares-Friends-with-cancer–290202711.html

    Obviously this is such a huge trial for families to go through, and they need extrordinary support. But it is hard to see how this approach could work in symphony with biblical parenting.

    Further complicating things, though the church should be stepping up to help, the risk of spreading germs seems so great for chemo kids that fellowship has to be avoided. There are christian families with sick kids who avoid church meetings for risk of infection, but consider cancer centers like this place a refuge.

    Obviously this is a huge topic, but it seems to be touching a lot of lives of believers. We know God allows trials for our good, yet the world sees trials as the enemy, so their reaction will not be consistent with God’s Word. What a challenge.

    That is all for now. God bless you!

    In Christ, Debbie Klein

    >

    • Linda says:

      Debbie,
      I appreciate your concern that children be directed toward unselfishness. You raise a helpful discussion topic on maintaining a Christian perspective as we rub shoulders with the world in which we live. The issue is one of discerning expectations and responsibilities. Basically, whatever the organization or medical person offers, the spiritual training of the child is the responsibility of the parents.

      I agree that Christian parents should have well-behaved children who cheerfully cooperate with dentists without the need for entertainment. Practically speaking, though, dentists usually have to keep patients moving through the appointment schedule. They have to deal with all kinds of behaviors in children raised by all kinds of parents. The law prohibits unauthorized use of restraint. Even if it didn’t, encouraging willing cooperation reduces a child’s fear and increases receptivity to what the dentist has to do. It is safer for the child.

      As to agencies, God providentially orchestrates much good through non-Christians through what is called “common grace.” As God causes the sun to rise on both evil and good, so God also graciously restrains evil of all men by His establishment of civil laws, by family rules, and by the conviction of the conscience (Gen. 9:6; Matt. 5:44-45; Rom. 2:14-15). The wicked even know how to give good gifts to others (Matt. 11:11-13). So by common grace, people without Christ are able to do much human good in education, science, farming, economics, medicine, law enforcement, and general acts of kindness which benefit millions. As that video clip explains, those organizations provide many helps besides play time, like tutoring school work and helping financially. The goodness graciously given by God to unbelievers shows His great goodness and mercy superintending all men.

      As you point out, these overburdened and emotionally crushed parents need extraordinary support. Such help would give Christian parents encouragement to keep hoping in God as He so generously provides even through non-Christians, besides opportunities to share the gospel or encourage other Christians.

      “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones” (Prov. 17:22). Suffering children are vulnerable to being very broken in heart, depressed. But a child with hope, with laughter in his life, a child that feels safe will accept difficult treatments better, perhaps with godly courage as taught by parents. The activities I saw in the video gives them something to do rather than laying bored in the bed with nothing to think about except their pain, especially when parents are away at work to pay the bills. We also know that feeling relaxed can reduce pain, and reduced pain facilitates healing. That is why it is wise to take pain meds after surgery not just for pain relief but primarily to aid the healing.

      To summarize, if my child were suffering with cancer, as a Christian parent I hope I would be thanking God for His goodness in providing those helps to us even through unbelievers, just as through the unbelieving doctors and nurses and store clerks and policemen, etc. Meanwhile, I would not expect them to express a Christian worldview. I would consider it my own responsibility to privately, age-appropriately teach my child biblical principles on suffering, gratitude, and on loving God and others, even as we did in similar situations when our children were still in the home. So, for example, an “art therapy” project by this organization might, if the child so chooses, become a gift, along with a gospel tract, for another child suffering from cancer or the unbelieving nurse treating her.
      I encourage you to keep thinking through issues, Debbie.
      We all can thank God for His common grace and teach our children a biblical worldview as we receive those blessings.

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