We are living between two Advents: Christ’s birth and His return. How should that affect the way we live? A.W. Tozer answered: “In the midst of our lives, and between the two great mountain peaks of God’s acts in the world, we look back and remember, and we look forward and hope!”
In other words, we must abide in Christ (v. 9). “Abide” is not a word we use much today, so translations often replace it with other words such as “remain,” “continue,” or even “reside.” Abide means to make a firm decision to “stay in place.” The key idea is that we “stick close” to Christ, understanding that our life and fruitfulness depend upon Him.
But we’re not just to abide near Christ, we’re to abide or remain in His love (vv. 9–11). How? By keeping His commands, just as He perfectly kept His Father’s commands. Abiding in His love by keeping His commands is the only pathway to godly joy. These verses close the loop on the past few days: To follow Christ means to love Him and one another; to love means to obey His commands, and to obey means we will abide or remain in Him.
The most important command is to love one another (vv. 12–17; 1 John 4:12). We are to love others as Christ loved us, selflessly and sacrificially. To follow Him in this way gives us the privilege of being His friends. After all, He loved us and chose us (in Jesus’ day, disciples usually chose their rabbi, not vice versa), shared “everything that I learned from my Father,” and called us to “go and bear fruit” (vv. 15–16). As we walk through this season of Advent, choose to abide in His love, by obeying His commands and demonstrating His love to others.
>> This truth makes the devotional application clear: How can we show the love of Christ to another person today? Make a list of possible ideas, and then choose one to act on today!
Lord, thank you for choosing us to abide in you. Tune our hearts and minds to yours so that we can love others with your love. Guide us today to someone whom we can serve in your name.