Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 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. 11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. 12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17 This I command you, that you love one another.
Occasionally there are events in life that may compel us to take stock of our choices.
They’re transitional and they can be transformational.
Graduating high school…then settling on a career path.
Having children or not.
Buying a home.
Facing a health crisis.
Losing loved ones.
These and other passage points come and go.
But they don’t just happen.
They can be life-shaping events.
They influence our perspective of life.
How we view of ourselves and others.
My parent’s divorce when I was very young made a huge impact on how I saw myself and others.
Some people go through life clutching their negative disposition despite having more than most…
- While others look for the good in everything
One person is fatalistic.
- These are it-is-what-it-is people
While the next person is master of their own destiny.
In today’s passage we have the perspective of life Jesus expects disciples to embrace regardless of its events…large and small…
What I call, the abiding life.
The abiding life centers in Jesus and His word.
It encounters times of transition and transformation as from the sovereign God who permits us to make choices.
- His reign and our responsibility
The abiding life is propelled by faith…whose Author and Finisher gladly provides believers the faith as they seek it.
The virtue of these verses is found through their simple presentation.
It offers us three practices of the abiding life…
- Abiding Love
- Abiding Loyalty
- Abiding Labor
As we think on these, I encourage you to pursue the abiding life.
Abiding Love (9-11)
Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 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. 11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.
We were introduced to the word abide in last Sunday’s message (15:1-8).
As I said, it means to stay…to remain.
It’s a word that’s not used much anymore.
Abiding is also practiced less these days than before.
Because abiding is hard.
It is difficult because it’s tempting to stray when circumstances get hard.
Half of all couples don’t abide by their marriage vows.
The same percentage of members don’t abide in their church.
Politicians rarely seem to abide by their word.
Jesus said, “Abide in My love.”
Now we know from His promise to never leave or forsake us (Heb. 13:5) that the onus of abiding in Jesus’ love is on us.
And the requirement to abide is keeping His commandments.
Here’s the blessing about this.
It’s with simple clarity that Jesus teaches what it takes to abide in His love.
Keep…practice…His commandments…that’s it.
I’m not saying it’s easy to do…but it’s clear what we need to do.
Have you ever been in a relationship with someone whose expectations are constantly changing?
It’s hard when their expectations are a moving target.
This is what I call, “Trying to love your teenager.”
Well, Jesus removes the guess work of abiding in His love.
- Keep His commandments
He even identifies the extent we’re to do this when He says, “Just as I have kept My Father’s.”
Now…Jesus knows that none of His disciples…then and now…would be able to keep His commandments perfectly…
- As He kept His Father’s
But He’s also wise enough to know that lowering the bar would guarantee His followers won’t even strive to keep any of them.
Once moral norms are compromised…the only way is down.
Take verse 12 for instance.
What if Jesus said, “Love one another except when it’s a bother.”
I can just hear somebody…
“I’ll love my brothers and sisters in Christ except…on Tuesdays.”
- Tuesdays are always tough at work
Our Lord’s standard is abiding in His love by keeping His commandments.
His measure of keeping is perfection…the means of keeping them is grace.
Christ imposes His perfect grace on our imperfect pursuit of commandment keeping.
Which is why we can confidently read Romans 8:1…
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Abiding in Christ’s love gives you the right perspective of love on life.
You see the world through the lens of His love.
It’s how the Father sees the world.
- For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
Christians who view the world through the lens of bigotry, judgment, envy, and jealousy don’t abide in His Love.
Not abiding in Christ’s love limits your view of life just to yourself.
It sees others and asks, “How can this person serve me?”
Abiding in His love asks, “How can I serve them?”
Not abiding in Jesus’ love leads to a small perspective of life…
- And blames God for all their problems
The abiding life looks outward…it’s not a navel-gazing life.
This is what Jesus means when He says, “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (11)
The abiding life is a joy-filled life because it centers in loving others…
Not the dead end of self-love.
Christ’s love flows from an abiding life.
Abiding Loyalty (12-14)
This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.
Listening to a Tim Keller sermon this week, he said this about friends…
Friends always let you in and they never let you down.
In a word…loyalty.
A true friend lets you into their life and is always ready to lift up yours.
That’s the kind of friend Jesus was to His disciples.
They saw Him cry…laugh…get mad…and be disappointed.
He let them in.
Though He was superior to them in every way…
Jesus didn’t look down on them.
They were not His equal…too far from it to measure…
But he let them in by loving them…teaching them…correcting them…
He shared life with them.
He laid down His life for them…
By dying for them…and by living with them.
Jesus never let them down.
He raised them up…He lifted them up.
Some went from being fishermen to fishers of men.
Tax collector to gospel writer.
Peter became overseer of the church in Jerusalem.
Ultimately lifting them into His heavenly presence.
The abiding life is one of loyalty to Jesus…and His friends.
Our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Our first loyalty is to Jesus through loyalty to His church.
- As a father I can’t be disloyal to my wife and loyal to my kids
Loyalty is gauged by a person’s trustworthiness.
Can Jesus trust me?
Am I a trustworthy follower of Jesus?
Can He count on me to keep His commandment to love one another?
- To let them in and never let them down
- To be loyal
Am I a loyal friend to His Body…the church?
Loyalty adds value to abiding.
While abiding is staying…remaining…
Loyalty is remaining for the right reasons.
How do I lift up others?
Many people see their church as a place to be served.
- A religious restaurant
Walk in…sit down…get waited on until satisfied…then leave.
That’s not loyalty…it’s consumerism.
I’ve never been more disappointed by people than some that I’ve pastored.
There are times when our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ can really let us down.
Letting people in is always risky.
But we don’t let them in and lift them up because we like to take risks.
- We like getting hurt by others
We do it because our Lord commands it.
The abiding life is loyal to Jesus and His friends.
[Abiding Love, Loyalty]
Abiding Labor (16-17)
You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17 This I command you, that you love one another.
Here, Jesus connects His choosing of the disciples to their appointment…
The assignment He chose for them.
In other words, Jesus is saying, “You didn’t choose Me for an assignment but I chose you for one.”
Which is to go and bear fruit that remains.
Some people read the first part of verse 16 and conclude that Jesus is talking about the disciple’s salvation as opposed to others He didn’t save.
But saved or unsaved is not the topic of His vine and branches analogy.
It’s how the saved are to live fruitfully by abiding in Jesus.
And central to that life is the continuity of their fruitful labor.
Jesus adds to what He said before about being fruitful.
Before His point was…and you may recall this from last Sunday…His point centered in abiding in Him as the vine leads to fruitfulness.
Now that that’s established…the Lord adds the qualifiers “go” and “remain.”
…appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain….
Do you remember the setting where they are as He speaks these words?
Jesus and the disciples were in the Upper Room Thursday night before His arrest Passover week.
He tells them that they will have to go from their safe confines to be fruitful in their Kingdom labors.
And when they do this there will be eternal outcomes of their labor.
Go in the short-term…remain in the long-term.
Go now…remain always.
Isn’t this the Great Commission?
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matt 28:19-20)
Do you know that the only work we will ever do that has eternal implications is our Kingdom labor?
- Nothing else
Your home will be owned by someone else.
Or flattened for new construction.
Your clothes get passed on to others or tossed out with the day’s trash.
Some of what you do is blended with the work of others until individual contributions are virtually imperceptible.
Most families don’t know anything of their relatives beyond the past two or three generations.
And the margin of that knowledge is shrinking with the rising divorce rate.
But the results of our Kingdom labor remain…they abide.
Look at Revelation 14:12-13…
Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. 13 And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.”
Paul gives us the essence of abiding labor in Colossians 3:23-24.
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.
Every kind of work is potentially Kingdom labor.
Is it done as for the Lord…according to His commandments?
Or do I work only for my own bottom line…my own enrichment.
Let’s turn to the second half of verse 16…
- …so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.
Again, the best understanding of this part takes in the whole.
His promise of provision directly relates to being fruitful.
- Regarding our Kingdom labor
Go and bear abiding fruit while asking the Father to provide for this work in Jesus’ name.
Do we do this enough?
Ask the Father to provide for His work.
Don’t forget His promise of provision comes with the cost of obedience to the Lord’s commands.
I’m reminded of Malachi 3:8-10…
Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you! 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.”
The abiding life labors for the Kingdom of God.
Jesus ends this portion of teaching with verse 17; reinforcing 12.
This I command you, that you love one another.
Abiding love…loyalty and labor.
They come together like a cord of three strands that’s not quickly torn apart.
Your church has been through a season of loss.
- Members…ministries and monies.
But we can recover.
If we’re willing to practice the abiding life.
And the who do…the stronger our recovery.
Is it going to be easy?
Will it be quick?
It can be done by abiding love, loyalty and labor.