Rabbi Schneider - Are You Trying?
Sometimes when we're reading scripture, we get confused because we seem sometimes to be reading truth that contradicts itself. We know that God has no contradiction within himself, but understanding the ways of God can be compared to a multi-faceted diamond. For example, some people want to talk all about the love of God, and they think they're talking about the fear of God is a contradiction to the love of God. There's no contradiction. They're both different facets of the same diamond. To walk with Hashem we need both the love of God, but we also need the fear of the Lord.
And I'm not talking about just respecting God, I'm talking about fearing God, because God judges sin, and he judges those that don't obey him. It's just like a little child: a little child should have some fear of his parents. That doesn't compromise the fact that he knows his parents love him, but it means that he knows that if he sins, if he does what he's not supposed to do, he's going to get spanked or punished or disciplined or something. And that keeps them doing the right thing. There's balance.
First John chapter 2 verse 3 says this, "By this we know that we have come to know him: if we keep his commandments". That might seem like a contradiction to some, because we know that God loves us unconditionally, that Christ died for us while we were yet sinners. And yet, here we find out that if we say we have come to know him, we can only be sure that we know him, and be sure of other people whether they know him or not, if we're keeping or other people or keeping the commandments.
Let me read it again, "By this we know we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments". And so, what the Lord is saying here is: If my love is really in your heart, you're going to keep my commandments. This is what Jesus said in John 14, "If you love me, you'll obey me". I'm not talking about being perfect, I'm talking about trying.