God's Love for Us and Our Love for God

Proverbs 3:1-12
February 11, 2018
Abraham Hong

 

The following sermon is the second in a two-part series on Proverbs 3:1-12.

Thanks be to God, who saved us through the person and the work of our Lord Jesus Christ! Because of Jesus, we have peace with God. We have life everlasting. Because of Jesus, we are no longer condemned as sinners in the sight of God. Our paths have been made straight. Because of Jesus, we have resurrection life for our flesh and bones. We can look forward to a time and a place without suffering or death.

Last Sunday, we looked at the meaning of today’s Scripture text - how it is connected to Christ and how it is relevant to us. As the true and ultimate king of the true and ultimate Israel, our Lord Jesus fulfilled the odd-numbered verses - all the things that the king was supposed to do - and earned the even-numbered verses - all the things that the king was supposed to get, if he did what he was supposed to do. Then, he took all that he earned and gave it to us. Now, we do the odd-numbered verses with thankfulness and joy - not because we are still trying to get what is promised in the even-numbered verses, but because we already have what is promised in them.

This morning, I am happy to focus on the odd-numbered verses with you. And I am just going to highlight three verses - three verses about our Christian life today, three verses that have to do with love.

First, as we wait wisely for the return of our king, let us obey God. In verse 1, it is written: “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments….”

Christian life is about obedience. It’s about learning the revealed will of God in Scripture. It’s about being pure and blameless, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ. It involves the hard work of taking off the old and not doing things that dishonor God. It involves the hard work of putting on the new and doing things that honor God. Christian life is about obedience.

Obedience is the true content and substance of a believer’s life in Christ. If you have fun fellowship with church members but do not have an obedient life before the Lord, then you lack something important. If you seek experience or emotion in church worship but do not seek holiness and righteousness in your thoughts, words and actions before the Lord, then you seek wrongly. If you serve and give and participate in church but do not do the words and follow the commands of the Lord, then you miss the point.

There is a famous story in 1 Samuel 15 about King Saul and Samuel, the prophet of the Lord. When the Lord commanded King Saul to completely destroy the Amalekites, Saul disobeyed him. And instead, Saul spared the best of the sheep and oxen and animals. He supposedly spared them to offer them as a sacrifice to the Lord. And so Saul came to Samuel and said, “Blessed be you to the LORD. I have performed the commandment of the LORD.”

But Samuel said these famous words to Saul: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king.” Obedience is the true way that we show our love to God. Obedience is the true content and substance of a believer’s life in Christ.

Obedience is the true way that we show our love to God. Love for God is not primarily expressed through the popular five love languages of gifts, time, words, service or touch. Love for God is primarily expressed through obedience to his commandments. This is clearly stated in 1 John 5:2-3: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”

Let us keep it simple: Christian life is about obedience. I therefore invite you to make obedience to God the greatest goal in your life. I invite you to love God through obedience to his commandments.

Second, as we wait wisely for the return of our king, let us remember God’s steadfast love and faithfulness towards us. In verse 3, it is written: “Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you….”

Christian life is about remembering. It is about being reminded of who Jesus is and what he did for us. It is about being assured of God’s love and grace through the truths and promises of his written word and through the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. It involves working out your salvation with fear and trembling. It involves encouraging one another as we see the Day drawing near.

Forgetfulness is a huge problem. In Deuteronomy 6, God spoke through Moses to the nation of Israel before she entered into the promised land of Canaan. And Moses told them to take care lest they forget the Lord, lest they forget how he brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. Unfortunately, they did forget. And we who are in Christ often forget his person and his work.

Let us keep it simple: Christian life is about remembering. I therefore invite you to remember God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. I invite you to bless the Lord and not forget all his benefits. Do not forget the one who who forgives all your iniquity and redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with steadfast love and mercy. For the Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us (Psalm 103).

Third, as we wait wisely for the return of our king, let us not despise God’s discipline. In verse 11, it is written: “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof….”

Christian life includes God’s discipline at times. It includes correction and rebuke against sin. It includes times of testing and training. It is about endurance and submission and character and protection. And it is often painful rather than pleasant.

But the amazing thing is that God disciplines those he loves. God loves you. And he disciplines you. The writer of Hebrews talks about this very thing in 12:1-11, and he quotes the final two verses of today’s text in Proverbs. He writes:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Let us keep it simple: Christian life includes God’s discipline at times. I therefore invite you to accept and endure the Lord’s discipline if it comes to you.

So there you have it. Obey God’s commands. Remember God’s love and faithfulness. And do not despise God’s discipline.

Brothers and sisters, this is love. When Jesus after the forty days in the wilderness said no to the temptations of the devil and said yes to the written word and the law and commandments of Scripture, it was his love for us. And when we live in obedience to Christ our King, it is our love for him.

Brothers and sisters, this is love. When Christ feeds us and assures us with his bread and cup, it is his love for us. And when we do such things in remembrance of him, it is our love for him.

Brothers and sisters, this is love. When God our Father disciplines us, it is his love for us. And when we receive it as his covenant children, it is our love for him.

Thanks be to God, who saved us through the person and the work of our Lord Jesus Christ! Because of Jesus, we have peace with God. We have life everlasting. Because of Jesus, we are no longer condemned as sinners in the sight of God. Our paths have been made straight. Because of Jesus, we have resurrection life for our flesh and bones. We can look forward to a time and a place without suffering or death.

Let us therefore love our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

End


Summary of Sermon

As the true and ultimate king of the true and ultimate Israel, our Lord Jesus fulfilled the odd-numbered verses and earned the even-numbered verses. Then he took all that he earned and gave it to us. Now we do the odd-numbered verses with thankfulness and joy.

Let us obey God. Obedience is the true content and substance of a believer's life in Christ, and it is the true way that we show our love to God. Christian life is much about obedience.

Let us remember God's steadfast love and faithfulness towards us. Christian life is much about remembering who Jesus is and what he did for us.

Let us not despise the Lord's discipline at times in our lives. God disciplines those whom he loves. Christian life includes God's discipline at times.

This is love. This is about God's love for us and our love for God. Let us be wise because of the great salvation that we have in Jesus.

Questions for Discussion & Sharing

What are some ways in which you can grow in obedience and love to God?

How has God been loving and faithful to you in your life?

In what ways can we endure and not despise God's discipline should it happen to us?