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 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, where 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 a 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, “That 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 He wants them to love Him. What I mean is, He isn’t the all-consuming passion of their lives. He isn’t the singular, driving force that serves as their engine. 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 details of the story, but the fundamental question Jesus asks Peter three times is 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 drugs or alcohol. The question is the same: “Do you love Me?” Another is having an affair. Jesus’ question to that professing Christian is not, “Do you love your spouse?” It is, “Do you love Me?” You see, if the answer to Jesus’ question is an honest “Yes,” the sinful conduct must stop. If it doesn’t, that proves that the person’s love of the addiction, sin, etc. is more than their love for Jesus.
A father asked his wayward daughter, “Do you love Jesus?” The daughter answered, “Yes, I do.” The father said, “Well, 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,” asked the father, “can I believe that you love Jesus when I see you do things every day that He forbids?” Then the father 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 be a lover of Jesus or an adulterer, but you can’t be both. You can be a lover of Jesus or a thief, but you can’t be both. You can be a lover of Jesus or a liar, but you can’t be both. You can be a lover of Jesus or a coveter, but you can’t be both. Let us never forget that Jesus isn’t impressed with lip-service. When He looks for your love, He looks for conduct. To Him, they are pretty much one and the same.