I was just flipping through some old notes and I came across something in 1 John I want to float by you. 1 John 5:3 says “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”
Now, Greek, like English, has several different meanings for the genitive case- it can be possessive, as in “that bucket of yours;” it can denote content, as in “that bucket of metal,” i.e. filled with metal; it can mean material, as in “that bucket of metal,” i.e. made of metal; and it can mean about a hundred other things. It’s a broad case.
And so in 1 John. From a purely grammatical point of view, the phrase “love of God” in verse 3 could be referring to our love for God or to God’s love for us- it’s the same expression, grammatically. It does seem clear, given the context in verses 1-2, that John is speaking about our love for God, but the question does spark an interesting thought: Does part of God’s love for us include our obedience to his commandments? In other words, could it be that one facet of God’s love entails the gift of our ability to obey him?
Scripturally, I think the answer is yes. In Psalm 19 David speaks of God’s law as a beautiful, vivifying thing, not as a burden (in agreement with John). In Psalm 119, David always speaks of God’s law as a gift. This doesn’t mean, if course, that obedience to the law is a gift, but it ought to make us think positively about God’s law.
And enter Revelation 19. After the destruction of Babylon John gets let in on this cosmic worship service, and among the other songs, the multitude sings this: “Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure-” and then the narrator comments, “for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints” (Revelation 19:7-8).
See that? It was given, granted to the Bride to clothe herself with linen, which is the righteous deeds of the saints- our good works, which we perform, are a gift! God truly is a God who takes his people from beginning to end. He has saved us; we are his.