Nothing good can follow the statment “if you love me…” in a normal relationship. I say “nothing” but to be more accurate, “usually” it indicates a lack of love.
If someone has to say “if you love me, you will…” then they are not feeling loved. Or even worse, they might be using these words to manipulate someone they are supposed to love.
In reality, “if you love me” statments should be more about results than about forcing someone to do something. In other words, if my wife loves me (cause), then she will tell me (effect). But if she doesn’t actually love me, it makes no difference if she tells me that she does.
Sometimes we can get this relationship between cause and effect jumbled. Effects can be a good indicator, but they are not the engine, they are the caboose.
It is the same way with God.
If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
There it is, “if you love me, you will….” So does this mean that we should focus on “dos and don’ts” in a kind of checklist? NO! this is what Christianity becomes at its worst. This statment is about loving God (cause) which leads to keeping Jesus’ commandments (effect).
By the way, love is the commandment (cf. Matt 22).
I know this is true because later John records it like this:
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
The result of your life “fruit” comes from us remaining in Jesus and him remaining in us.
Does a Believer have to do certain things to be a believer? No!
Will a Believer necessaraly do certain things? Yes!
Our actions, our obedience, doing “good works” are all very important, but they are important as a thermometor, not as a thermostate.
Too often, we try to “do better” or perhaps love God more by “doing more” and when we do, we’ve got it exactly backwards. While it’s true that if we love Him more, we will obey more, but you must put the engine before the caboose. Love is first, remaining in Him is first, the result is obedience, righteousness, godly living etc.
Make sure that “doing good” remains a gague of where you are at, not a means to an end. Don’t just “try harder” to be a better Christian, fall into God and let Him lead you.
Trying harder is exhausting, give up, give in, give over… be free.