“Little Nutbrown Hare, who was going to bed, held on tight to Big Nutbrown Hare’s very long ears. He wanted to be sure Big Nutbrown Hare was listening.
‘Guess how much I love you,’ he said.
‘Oh, I don’t think I could guess that.’ said Big Nutbrown Hare.
‘This much,’ said Little Nutbrown Hare, stretching out his arms as wide as they could go.”
Taken from Guess How Much I Love You, by Sam McBratney
The story of Little Nutbrown Hare and his father, Big Nutbrown Hare, and the quest to show each other just how much they love one another, is a sweet favorite around our house. Even when doing a book purge, which is hard enough for this book lover to do at all, Guess How Much I Love You always makes the cut.
I received the small children’s book when our daughter was a baby, and I read it to her so often that the famous line from the book has made its way into her daily vocabulary: “Guess how much I love you!”
Her answers come in a wide range of subjects, from “More than ALL the stars on my bedroom ceiling,” and “More than a hundred clouds love the rain,” to “More than sweets,” and “More than I love parties with my friends.”
Now that’s a lot of love!
But my favorite just has to be the one I heard one afternoon while our daughter was floating in the bath tub along with a small pink pony, a football whistle, and a tea pot, her blonde hair splayed out like a silky fan.
“Mama, guess how much I love you!”
“How much do you love me, Peanut-Girl?”
“So much that I promise to obey you.”
My breath caught in my chest and tears stung my eyes. I stopped cleaning the hair out of a brush and turned to face her. “I don’t think you could show me any better than that.”
My daughter’s statement was not made from a heart of fear, anger, or ignorance, but rather from a heart of understanding, wisdom, and love. You see, much of her training has revolved around this principle: “To obey is better than sacrifice. If you love me, you’ll obey my commands! Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching” (1 Samuel 15: 22 and John 14:15 & 23). And she’s getting it!
To love Jesus is to obey Him. What an incredible truth! We don’t have to wonder how to put a smile on His face. We don’t have to speculate on what will make His heart swell with pride and joy. We don’t have to guess what He wants from us. His commands are for His glory and our good. He simply wants obedience – He wants our love.
The Bible, God’s very own Word to us, is crystal clear: Salvation is by grace through faith alone, NOT by works (Eph 2:8). But it’s just as clear that a lifestyle of obedience is fundamental to those who truly love God (1 John 5:3). It is the quintessential proof of His lordship in our lives (1 John 2:3).
Most of us don’t care for either obedience or sacrifice, which is why a life of obedience by necessity flows from a heart surrendered to and in love with Jesus. In the Bible, we see five reasons Jesus views obedience as bold, true, undeniable love.
Obedience Glorifies God
First and foremost, Jesus is concerned with the glory of God (John 5:44; 7:18; 12:27-28; 14:13 17:1). When we obey God, it brings Him glory (Matt 5:16; 1 Pet 2:12; 1 Pet 4:11).
Obedience Shows Trust
“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus!” the old song exhorts, and Matthew 6:25-34 is the gold standard of obedience.
It begins with trust: “…Be not anxious for your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor for your body, what you shall put on…
Consider the birds of the air – your Father feeds them! And the lilies of the field – they don’t toil, yet even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed as one of these! Are you not more valuable than they? Your Father knows you have need of these things.”
Obedience then follows: “But seek first His Kingdom, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.”
Trust + Obey = Love.
Obedience Reveals Regeneration
Regeneration comes through the Holy Spirit by faith alone, but if a life of obedience as regeneration’s proof is absent, true faith is not present.
Theologian A.W. Tozer once rightly said, “Any professed faith in Christ as personal Savior that does not bring the life under plenary obedience to Christ as Lord is inadequate and must betray its victim at the last. The [wo]man that believes will obey; failure to obey is convincing proof that there is not true faith present…Where real repentance is, there is obedience.”
1 John 2:3 reads, “We know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commands.” Later in the same chapter, John reiterates this point: “…everyone who does what is right has been born of Him (vs 29)”.
Knowing Him is obeying Him, and obeying Him is loving Him.
Obedience Places God’s Will Over Our Will
Obedience may not always be easy, but the difficulty of our obedience has yet to match the difficulty of Jesus’, for in our struggle against disobedience we have not yet resisted to the point of shedding our blood (Heb 12:4), but He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross (Phil 2:8)!
In obedience, Jesus is our leader and mentor, for He came not to do His own will, but the will of God, who sent Him (John 6:38). This is unquestionably evidenced in Luke 22:42, when Jesus humbly bowed before His Father and vowed His allegiance to obedience – and to God’s will over His own, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
Obedience unto death. He did it. That’s how He knows obedience is love.
Obedience Reflects Jesus
They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. Jesus says it’s the highest form of love (Luke 10:27; John 15:9-11; 1 John 2:6). We’ve already seen how Jesus obeyed the Father, and He tells us that He and the Father are one (John 10:30). Therefore, we, too, obey Jesus. And we are to teach others to do the same (Matt 16:20)!
How much do you love Him, Sisters? Let’s tell Him right now!
“Jesus, guess how much I love you!”
In His name and for His glory, Jodi Greene