Harry Winston, the famous New York diamond dealer, once heard about a wealthy Dutch merchant who was looking for a certain kind of diamond to add to his collection. Winston called the merchant, told him that he thought he had just the stone, and invited the man to come to New York to examine it.
The collector flew to New York and Winston assigned a salesman to show him the diamond. As the salesman presented the diamond he pointed out all of its exquisite features. The merchant listened attentively but finally turned away and said, “It’s wonderful stone but not exactly what I wanted.”
Winston, who had been watching the presentation from a distance, stopped the merchant and asked, “Do you mind if I show you the diamond again?” The merchant agreed and Winston presented the same stone. However, instead of talking about the stone’s fine technical features, Winston spoke of his genuine admiration of the diamond and what a rare thing of beauty it was. When he was finished, the merchant changed his mind and bought the stone.
While he was waiting for the diamond to be packaged and brought to him, the merchant asked Winston, “Why did I buy it from you when I had no difficulty turning down your salesman?” Winston answered, “The salesman is one of the best in the business. He knows more about diamonds than I do, and I pay him a good salary for what he knows. But I would gladly pay him twice as much if I could put something into him, something I have and he lacks. You see, he knows diamonds, but I love them.”
Our churches are home to all kinds of people who know Jesus. They know about His deity, His virgin birth, His sinless life, His miracles, His teachings, His death on the cross, His resurrection, and His ascension. But so many of these people don’t really love Jesus, at least not in the way that Jesus wants them to love Him. He isn’t the all-consuming passion of their lives. He isn’t their single, driving force. They don’t seek His will above their own in every decision and circumstance.
The story of how Jesus restored Peter after Peter had denied Him three times is recorded in John 21:15-19. I won’t go into the story’s details, but the foundational question Jesus asked Peter was a simple one: “Do you love me?” Isn’t it amazing how the answer to that question can change everything about a situation?
A professing Christian is addicted to pornography. Jesus comes and asks, “Do you love me?” Another is addicted to alcohol. The question is the same: “Do you love me?” Another is considering having an affair. The question is not, “Do you love your spouse?” It is, “Do you love Me?”
You see, if the answer to the question is an honest “Yes” the sinful conduct must stop. If it doesn’t, the person’s love obviously isn’t really for Christ; it is for the sin. The heart of Christ’s question is, “If you truly love Me, you’ll stop doing this. Your love for me will override your love for this sin.”
A father asked his wayward daughter, “Do you love Jesus?” The daughter answered, “Yes, I do.” The man responded, “I guess you think you do.” She replied, “No, I really do love Him.” The father said, “Well then, let me ask you something else. Suppose you come to me and say, ‘Dad, I love you,’ but then you go out and directly disobey me. Could I honestly believe that you love me?” The daughter, already sensing where the father was headed with his logic, sheepishly answered, “No.” “How then,” said the father, “can I believe that you love Jesus when I see you each day do things He forbids?” Then the man put an exclamation point on his line of reasoning by quoting Christ’s words from John 14:15: “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”
I dare say that no text in all the Bible needs to be preached to today’s professing Christians any more than those simple words: “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” You can be a lover of Jesus or a murderer, but you can’t be both. You can love Jesus or you can commit adultery, but you can’t do both. If you covet some thing or someone that belongs to another, you forfeit your right to say, “I love Jesus.” Let us never forget that Jesus isn’t impressed with lip-service. When He looks for love, He looks at conduct. To Him, they are one and the same.